Vladimir Martinovski

- North Macedonia -

Vladimir Martinovski (1974) is poet, prose writer, essay writer, literary critic and translator.

He works as an Associate professor, teaching the subject of Comparative Poetics at the Department of General and Comparative Literature, Faculty of Philology "Blazhe Koneski", Sts Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje. He completed his PhD at University Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle at 2007.

He is member of the Executive Board of the International Association for Semiotic Studies and Executive Board member of the European Network for Comparative Literary Studies. He is member of Macedonian Writers Association and Macedonian PEN Centre. 

Vladimir Martinovski (1974) is poet, short story writer, essayist and translator. He works as an Associ­ate professor, teaching the subject of Comparative Poetics at the Depart­ment of General and Comparative Lit­erature, Faculty of Philology "Blazhe Koneski", Sts Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje.


He is former president of the Association of Comparative Literature of Macedonia. He is the member of the Executive Board of the International Association for Semiotic Studies. Furthermore, he is a member of the International Comparative Literature Associ­ation and the European Network for Comparative Literary Studies.


He has been an editor of the following books: Ut pictura po­esis – Poetry in Dialogue with the Fine Arts, Thematic Selection of Macedonian Poetry (together with Nuhi Vinca), Struga Poetry evenings, Struga, 2006; Metamorphoses and Metatexts (together with Vesna Tomovska), Association of Comparative Literature of Macedonia and the Association of Classical Philology "Antika", Skopje, 2008; When the Butterfly Becomes a Poem (together with Lidija Kapushevska – Drakulevska), Point, "Ithaca", Apdo, Al­tea (Alicante), 2010 and Odysseys about the Odyssey (together with Vesna Tomovska), Association of Comparative Literature of Meacedonia and the Association of Classical Philology "Antika", Skopje, 2010.


He is the recipient of the following awards and prizes: First Prize at the Short Story Competition of "Nova Makedonija" (2009) and the Brother’s Miladinovci Award (awarded by the International Festival Struga Poetry Evenings, 2010).


His poetry has been translated in English, Albanian, Bulgarian, German, Greek, Japanese, Polish, Romanian, Slovenian, Serbian, French, Croatian and Czech languages.


Bibliography: From an Image to a Poem: Intersections Between Macedonian Contemporary Poetry and the Fine Arts (a study), Ma­gor Publishing, Skopje, 2003; Sea Moon (haiku and tanka), Magor Publishing, Skopje, 2003; Hidden Poems (haiku), Magor Publish­ing, Skopje, 2005; And Water and Earth and Fire and Air (haiku), Magor Publishing, Skopje, 2006, Comparative Triptychs (studies and essays), Magor Publishing, Skopje, 2007; Les Musées Imag­inaires, (a study), L’Harmmatan, Paris, 2009; The Echo of the Waves (haibuns), Ili-Ili, Skopje, 2009; Quar­tets (poetry), Kliker Books Publishing, Skopje, 2010; Hur­ry up and Wait! (prose poems), Kliker Books Publishing, Skopje, 2011; Before and after the Dance (poetry), 2012; Real Water (poetry) 2014, Selected poetry translated in other languages: A Portrait of a Poet with an Umbrella (2011) and Reverse Profile (2011).


He has published several books with theoretical studies and essays: Paintings for Reading – Aspects of Ekphrastic Poetry (a study), Magor Publishing, Skopje, 2009; Comparative Diptychs (studies and essays) Magor Publishing, Skopje, 2011.


The poetic power of Macedonian language has always been confirmed through the plethora of original and highly esthetic verses, many of which are examples of poetic luddism. Yet, it is my belief that never before have we encountered in Macedonian poetry such concentrated and explicit intent of the language to depart from itself, to immerse itself in the extra-linguistic, visual and musical, as we have in the poetry collection Quartets by Vladimir Martinovski. It is consumed throughout by the rhythm of child-like (in the best sense of the word) pleasure in the game of poetical combinatorics, which for many theorists constitutes the basic model of the esthetic essence.


The European experiences of carmina figurata, Apollinaire’s Calligrammes, Futurists’  parole in libertà, the Surrealists’ exquisite cadavers and the Dadaistic playfulness, as well as the Japanese forms of the renga, haiku and other products of the Eastern verbal-vocal-visual literature are all merged in the poetry of Martinovski in a symbiosis which is at the same time spiritual and lucid, rational and sensory, deeply emotional, intimate and communicative. There it has grown into a specific Macedonian answer to the universal poetic exploration of the unchartered possibilities of intermedial intersections. The apparent ease of the playfulness serves not to limit, but to the contrary, it enables these verses to reveal their philosophical wisdom and to raise with a laconic economy the essential dilemmas that trouble our existence.


The poetry collection Quartets provides a powerful argument that all its parts merge seamlessly and are there for a reason, as part of the symbolical structure founded on the multiple meanings of the number four (four sides of the world, four members of a family, four angles of the baklava, four elements of the world, four gospels of the Bible, etc.) Last, but not least are the four forms of communicating with poetry stated in the subheading of the book: reading, watching, singing and listening. The first few quartets one could say are musical in nature, representing inspired poetic echoing of specific musical performances which have grown into poetical soundscapes and a celebration of music as a thing that is not "heard only/ with ears alone/but with the whole skin". One of the most exciting quartets is the one where elements from the Macedonian folklore dominate (e.g. the variation of the Slavic antithesis in the poem A Star Descended or the play with the five vowels in the folklore-inspired Psalm). This is followed by images and the poet’s attempt to put them to paper "even if it is only with black letters". The poetizing of visual sensations through the phenomenon of photography, through the merging of museum exhibits with impressions of Dutch landscapes, through the registering of the "echoes of the paintings" through the centuries, finally culminates with several highly successful examples of visual poetry. One poem that stands out is the idiosyncratic and original Among Mirrors which comes back to the eternal motif of the mirror symmetry,  both narcissistic and monological, which unlike the most usual poetical form of horizontal verbal palindrome, is shaped in the hands of Martinovski into the form of vertical graphic reflection of the initially emphasized O. This enables him to use the whole interval of the poem to perform a very effective wordplay. Quite naturally, few of the quartets in this collection are inspired by games, taken to other creative planes, ranging from the essentially childish ("the balloon inflates" is related to the playing of the bagpipe, or the "flying of kites" with the Chinese tradition), to the collective creative games well known in the literary tradition (the surrealist’s game of exquisite cadaver and the Japanese poetic game of "renga").  There is great thrill to be found in the poetical variations inspired by chess, weather forecast, even sport betting – which, quite unexpectedly, has found (probably, for the first time ever) its poetical application in one of the poems in this book. The provocation that he faced to subject himself to formal poetical rules without losing the desired freedom of spirit and emotion, has lead Martinovski to endeavor to try his versifying skills at recognized poetical forms such as the sonnet, haiku or the epistle. Though following the strict prescribed rules, he still succeeds in achieving highly authentic and intimate lyrical creations, incorporating the sensibility of the time that he lives in, as well as his own personal imprint. We also have to point to the exquisite wit ( which can very often be equated to esthetic epiphany) of the Poems under a Microscope which bring before us fresh and original graphic solutions, immersed, among other things, in profound contemplation of the unpredictable path of artistic creation (Seahorse). The final quartets in the collection turn their gaze toward the heavenly, celestial spheres, with a Dante-like inquisitiveness before the meaning and beauty of life, existence and our unity with nature. The very last quartet Signs rounds up this collection of poems with its philosophical dimension which is always the inevitable characteristic of any profound and lucid art, a designation which the poetry found among these two covers undoubtedly deserves.


Full of vitality, celebration of life, steeped in eros and profound insight into the world that surrounds us, the poetry of Vladimir Martinovski provides abundant pleasure to the reader, involving all the senses in one way or another. What if you read his poems next to a lily in bloom or with a glass of well aged wine in your hand? Perhaps then the messages contained within would come more naturally and more effectively to us? One never knows, though it is certainly worth a try!


by Sonja Stojmenska – Elzeser