By Aco Šopov
Translated by Rawley Grau and Christina E. Kramer
A collection celebrating the Centennial of seminal modernist Macedonian poet Aco Šopov.
Publication Date: October 10, 2023
This substantive collection represents Šopov's creative career, starting with his first book of poetry in 1944, when he was fighting in the Yugoslav resistance to the German occupation. In the early 1950s, he published two collections that signaled a new direction for Macedonian poetry as a whole, announcing the arrival of new form “intimate lyricism”. Over the next 25 years, Šopov's work deepened further, acquiring a philosophical cosmic dimension and at times venturing into surrealism. The Long Coming of the Fire shares the work of a consummate craftsman little-known in the Anglophone world, achieving a “penetrating, resonant, and melodic” poetic language with “a lively and pregnant imagery that binds together the experience of the author and reader” (Graham W. Reid).
Aco Šopov was born in 1923 in the town of Štip, in what is today North Macedonia. His first book was published by the underground press in 1944, when he was fighting in the anti-Fascist resistance. By the early 1950s, he was a major Macedonian poet, notable for his deep personal lyricism. His volumes Not-Being (Nebidnina, 1963) and Reader of the Ashes (Gledač na pepelta, 1970) are genuine masterworks, establishing his reputation as one of the founders of modern Macedonian poetry. Here Šopov’s poetry expands into philosophical and existential questions, even as it remains firmly rooted in an exploration of the self. The book The Song of the Black Woman (Pesna na crnata žena, 1976) emerged from Šopov’s years as the Yugoslav ambassador to Senegal (from 1971 to 1975), a period when he also produced an award-winning translation of poems by the poet and Senegalese president Léopold Sédar Senghor. His health began to deteriorate in 1977, and his struggle with illness is reflected in his last book of poems, The Tree on the Hill (1980). He died in 1982, at the age of 58. Collections of Šopov’s work have been translated into eleven languages, including French, Spanish, German, Russian, Hungarian, and Romanian. The bilingual English–Macedonian collection, The Long Coming of the Fire is the first major edition of Šopov’s poetry in English.
"Rawley Grau and Christina E. Kramer's translations of Aco Šopov's lyrics reproduce the remarkable clarity and depth of this Macedonian master's vision, a vision hardened like a diamond by the forces of private and public catastrophe." —Boris Dralyuk, poet and translator
"These poems burn with old fires, medieval battle cries, primordial limestone. This is a book for spelunkers and myth-makers." —Sean Cotter, translator of Solenoid and FEM