(writing as Katerina Stoykova-Klemer)
grew up in Bourgas, Bulgaria and now
divides her time between her homeland and
her adopted Kentucky, where she began her
writing career after immigrating to the
United States in 1995 and working as a
software engineer for over a decade.
Her first poetry book, the bilingual The Air
around the Butterfly (Fakel Express, 2009),
won the 2010 Pencho’s Oak award, given
annually to recognize literary contribution
to contemporary Bulgarian culture. In
addition to her Broadstone Books titles
featured on this page, she is also the author
of The Most (Finishing Line Press, 2010),
Indivisible Number (Fakel Express, 2011,
Bulgarian only), and the Bulgarian edition
of How God Punishes (ICU, 2014), for
which she received the Ivan Nikolov
National Poetry Prize.
"The best revenge is writing really well. So we are gifted with these witty timely poems.
This is things whole. These are muscular words of intelligent humor and tenacity."
Grace Cavalieri, The Washington Independent
Review of Books, August 2012
"Katerina Stoykova-Klemer's new book, The Porcupine of Mind, is bristling with intelligence,
humor, and fresh perceptions. She has many ways of combining the ordinary with the
fabulous. She can write a love poem to a single cell organism, or turn an encounter with an
annoying fly into a fable of empathy. Read this marvelous book, and you will find yourself
laughing out loud. You might also find yourself looking up from these pages refreshed and
enlivened by your encounter with such a charmed vision and singular voice."
Greg Pape, author of American Flamingo
"If you are a new reader of Katerina Stoykova-Klemer’s poetry, you are in for a delightful
experience. Those of us who have read her work know that Katerina’s poems are like no one
else’s; they are smart and weighty in subject, but as with the best poetry, full of lively play.
Opening The Porcupine of Mind is like sitting down with one of those people who provide
the best possible companionship. Readers, prepare for a rollicking good conversation, full of
wit, intellectual hooks, and winking flirtation."
Kathleen Driskell, author of Seed Across Snow
"With droll wit and brainy imagination Katerina Stoykova-Klemer turns a large life and a long
journey into the vibrant, astonishing miniature poems in The Porcupine of Mind, the first full
book of her poems in English. These rubies, which she creates from potatoes, miseries,
candles, mistakes, kisses, and lost friends, shine in surreal splendor. Tempering her extreme
compassion is the prickly, matter-of-fact attitude of a Bulgarian dark humorist. Although we
know her from a chapbook and from translations, now it’s time to savor fully Katerina
Stoykova-Klemer’s protean imagination: one that can hold a conversation with a single cell
or observe the heave in the body of a housefly. The Porcupine of Mind announces a vital
new voice in contemporary American poetry."
Molly Peacock, author of The Paper Garden:
Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life's Work at 72
In this new collection of poetry, Katerina Stoykova fearlessly probes the “porcupine of mind,”
the prickly defenses of the psyche, to lay bare the experiences of love and leaving, regret and
discovery, severed roots and new possibilities, all from the perspective of an intellectually
voracious and passionate wanderer between two languages and cultures. There are poems
here that dazzle with inventiveness, as well as poems expressing such deep emotional honesty
they catch the reader’s breath.
In the tradition of authors like Conrad, Nabokov and her fellow poet Charles Simic, master
stylists in their adopted English, Stoykova explores and delights in the possibilities of the
language. In some poems words themselves are the characters and we listen in on their
surprising conversations. But in a larger sense the entire collection is a dialogue with
language; and just as she warns us
You’ll never pronounce the word
love the same
after you’ve kissed
readers will come away with a new appreciation for the potential of poetry to speak the truth
after they have embraced Stoykova’s verse.
Paperback, 112 pages
Publication Date: May 7, 2012
$14.50 retail price
|Praise for The Porcupine of Mind
She is the editor of Bigger Than They Appear: Anthology of Very Short Poems (Accents
Publishing, 2011), and the editor and translator of The Season of Delicate Hunger: Anthology
of Contemporary Bulgarian Poetry (Accents Publishing, 2014).
For six years she hosted the literary radio show Accents on WRFL 88.1FM in Lexington. In
2010, she launched the independent literary press Accents Publishing. Katerina co-wrote the
independent feature film Proud Citizen, directed by Thom Southerland, and acted in the lead
role. Her stories and poems in English and Bulgarian have been published in journals
worldwide and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net Award and AWP
|BROADSTONE BOOKS presents
|Publication Date: November 1, 2017
Paperback, 72 pages
Booksellers: Available from
Small Press Distribution
How God Punishes:
the small prize. Mercifully
you never learn
of the big one.
It is altogether fitting that these lines begin Katerina Stoykova’s poetic meditation, for in 2014
the Bulgarian version of How God Punishes (published by ICU) won the Ivan Nikolov
National Poetry Award, presented annually by the Bulgarian publishing house Zhanet 45 and
recognized as that nation’s premier poetry prize. So in the end she did receive a “small prize”
indeed! But it is her readers who are treated to the “big one” in the form of the insights shared
in these pages. And now at last comes this version for English-speaking readers, prepared by
the author, who is equally at home in both languages and divides her time between her native
Bulgaria and her adopted Kentucky.
It is, in the author’s words, a “self ironic” work, “a book about truth-telling, regret and ego,”
that walks the reader through several stages of personal development across its seven parts
and epilogue. Along the way there is humor, of the kind that catches in the throat and the
heart, along with hard-learned wisdom, and most of all deep and loving humaneness. The
“God” that administers these “punishments” is not off in some distant celestial realm, but
present in the process of living day by day, of trying and failing and trying again, perfecting
us for all our imperfections. In this, there is surely grace.