Conversation with the writer Violeta Tancheva-Zlateva: Weaving stories is the ultimate expression of freedom of the spirit

The dedicated writer sees a possible story in almost everything he hears, sees, experiences / Photo: Dule Damjanovski

The writer and poet Violeta Tancheva-Zlateva published her latest prose work in the edition of "Three" and with the novel "Bela Sama" she substantially penetrates the themes of motherhood, the feminine principle and tragic circumstances in life.

Last week, the promotion of the new novel "Bela Sama" by Violeta Tancheva-Zlateva took place in KIC-Skopje. The seemingly simple story contains multiple narrative layers. Some of them were revealed through a conversation with the promoter Ana Jovkovska at the promotion, and some are also revealed for the readers of "Kulturen Pečat" through a direct conversation with the author.

There are multiple thematic layers in the novel, but where did you originally get the idea for the story?

– Story ideas and topics are all around us. And in order to "catch" them, it is enough just not to go through life superficially, but to live it a little more deeply, a little more (o)consciously. To have eyes to truly see people, to have ears to truly hear their problems, and not to be present only when the joys need to be shared.

The dedicated writer sees a possible story in almost everything he hears, sees, experiences. That's how the story of "Bela Sama" came out of life. Youthful love and dreams, creating a home and meeting new people, but also accidents, death, facing illness, fighting loneliness and isolation, not accepting diversity, peer and family violence, vices – all those things exist around us. And in order to be able to fight them, we should first bring them to the surface, talk and write about them.

Author Violeta Tancheva-Zlateva and promoter Ana Jovkovska / Photography: Dule Damjanovski

Most of the story takes place in the countryside. Is it, perhaps, a question of reminiscences, hidden memories and memories?

- I am happy that I grew up in a village, that from a young age I was able to immediately absorb the primordial connection with the roots, with nature. Precisely because of the need to return to the roots, I set a part of the action of the novel in a village.

Many of Bela's happenings are, in fact, throwbacks to my childhood – the game of stringing willow leaves or the conversations with grandfather Boris; many of the books Bella reads are books of my childhood; the described school building is exactly the small school in Borievo where I studied, and Grandfather Jose is a real character who took care of everything for us in the school – a noble occupation that had Christian overtones at the time: a minister.

Today, there are no major differences in the way of life in the city and in the countryside, but the essentially different understanding and view of things came to the fore during the corona virus pandemic. The peasants are not as susceptible to conspiracy theories and are more rebellious in their expression of revolt, but also more naive. And it was important for me to describe that in the last part of the novel.

How much, in essence, can a literary work give strength to the powerless, the disadvantaged, the vulnerable to face the whirlwind of life?

- I deeply believe in the power of literature, in fact, in the creative power of people. Writing, weaving stories, creating a whole parallel world with its own peculiarities and characters, for me is the ultimate expression of the freedom of the spirit, an opportunity for its unfolding and soaring above the limitations of the real world. But the writer is also only human – and powerless, disadvantaged, and vulnerable. Hence, writing first allows him to face his own pains and fears, or the whirlwind of life. And then to everyone who will read his book, because everyone has the same pains, we all suffer and struggle through life. And we need to see, to read that we are not alone in this, that someone else has already overcome a vice, conquered an illness, faced the fear of loneliness, of death. All this not only comforts us, but also encourages us to take matters into our own hands and get out of the vicious circle.

In her review of the novel, Lidija Dimkovska wrote that Bela is "like so many other girls, women and women who pass by us with their burden that only our inner eyes can see." I am precisely giving them a voice, to tell their own stories, offering us both knowledge and consolation, but also support and an incentive to act.

The story of "Bela Sama" came from life / Photo: Dule Damjanovski

You write both poetry and prose. How do you give direction to your own thoughts and inspirations?

– I don't try to direct my thoughts, I don't force myself to write poetry or prose, or to write at all. I don't have any daily plan or schedule, I'm not one of those authors who try to write every day. It is more important for a person to read something every day, to delve into it and think, weaving the story or the poem into himself. I don't want to "lure" my thoughts, I let them flow freely, wander and come back to me. And when they come back, I try to take a moment or two and write them down, or at least the basic idea that I can work on later.

Since I'm not a freelance artist, but a full-time proofreader, I don't have much time to write. I don't know if that's why I write more poetry, or simply because it "lies" more. But I see that even in poetry I am telling a story.

You are often present at events organized by younger generations of poets. How much more peacefully have the generations changed in recent times, without divisions, arguments and quarrels, but with cooperation?

- Yes, I try to follow the developments of my younger colleagues, both to get to know their creations and to support them. They are full of energy, with new ideas, with freshness, in fact, as befits youth. I have the feeling that the current young generation of writers is somehow more relaxed about the place that belongs to them, they don't try hard to prove themselves and win some kind of place from the older ones. That place of theirs will certainly come, and in the meantime they write, organize events and readings, socialize.

By nature, I am more inclined towards cooperation and support than towards divisions and arguments. But they are also normal, they are an understandable part of the process of growing and maturing, of becoming independent. We can't all think the same, sometimes it's necessary to raise our voice, if necessary, to fight, standing behind our understandings and defending our principles. But if we all strive for one goal – to be better and nobler both as people and as authors – the divisions will not be so sharp and lead to quarrels, verbal fights and personal insults. We live at the same time and in the same space, and instead of closing ourselves in our narrow and narrow-minded factions, it is much better to help each other and expand our horizons – and wings.

(The interview was published in "Cultural Press" number 219, in the printed edition of the newspaper "Sloboden Pechat" on 24-25.02.2024)

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