Bulgarian Poet Valeri Petrov Dies
Valeri Petrov, Bulgaria’s most prominent contemporary poet, who translated the complete works of Shakespeare, has died at age 94.
Valeri Nissim Mevorah, better known by his pen-name, Valeri Petrov, was born on April 22, 1920, in Sofia to a Jewish father and Bulgarian mother.
Poet, playwright, screenwriter and translator, Valeri Petrov (pseudonym of Valeri Nisim Mevorah) is one of the most multifaceted talents in Bulgarian literature. In prose, verse and translation, his style is crisp, light and accessible and every rhyme underscores the beauty and melodiousness of the Bulgarian language.
Born on April 22, 1920 in Sofia, Bulgaria, Valeri Petrov studied in the Italian Lyceum in the capital and completed a medical degree in 1944 in Sofia University. He served as war correspondent during World War II and worked as a physician in a makeshift military hospital in Rila Monastery.
The range of his work is enormous. He’s published scores of poems, including “In the soft autumn”, winner of the Georgi Dimitrov prize for literature. He’s written the scripts for four films, including “Yo-ho-ho” and “Knight, No Armour”, and several live-action and animation shorts. He’s the author of “Five Fairy Tales” – a collection of children’s fairy tales, bedtime reading for generations of Bulgarian children, for which he was listed in the International Council for Children’s Literature’s honour roll.
Petrov is also an accomplished translator from Russian, Italian and English. Alongside his translations of Gianni Rodari and Sergey Mihalkov and Rudyard Kipling, his poetic translations of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies and historial dramas are the most valued such translations in Bulgaria and have released and performed multiple times.
In 1970, he clashed with the communist regime in Bulgaria after refusing to sign an official petition denouncing the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn. As a result, Petrov was not allowed to publish for years, so he turned to translating.
Petrov was held in high esteem in his country and after the collapse of the totalitarian regime in 1989, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature by Bulgaria’s Writers’ Union.
On May 24, 2006, Valeri Petrov was honoured with the prestigious “Hristo G. Danov” prize for overall contribution to literature, and on September 17, 2010, already 90 years old, he was awarded the Sofia award for lifetime achievement.