An article about Athanase Vantchev de Thracy published in the Bulgarian medias
“EDUCATION IS CENTRAL TO MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE”
Athanase Vantchev de Thracy is undoubtedly one of the greatest contemporary poets of France. His CV is quite impressive in many ways. Twenty nine collections of poetry, written in classical and blank verse, comprising all forms of poetical expression, ranging from sonnets to hymns. A number of treatises and a doctoral dissertation on Paul Verlaine. These are only few among many works of a brilliant and prolific author. An outstanding erudite and polyglot, one of the best global messengers of Bulgarian culture. Honorary laureate of many national and international literary awards. I met him at the international conference “Bulgaria-a Crossroad of civilizations and cultures” at the NDK on “The Day of Buditelite”, an auspicious date in our history. My first impression was that he is one of “a special breed”- a creative man of outstanding talents who does not put on a show of a living legend. On the contrary, he is natural and spontaneous, full of humor and self-irony. He has “the joie de vivre” of a child prodigy, speaking about serious matters with a tongue in the cheek. Here is what he had to say on the occasion of Buditelite, a special spiritual holiday for Bulgarians: “This is one of the greatest holidays of Bulgaria.
Education is central to making the world a better place. I'm worried about the younger generations. They seem not to know enough about the best of their national heritage and they are mostly keen on “the shady part” of Western culture, I would dare say the so called “subculture”. What's the mission of Buditelite today? I think their mission is to awaken people for a more meaningful life, to boost their awareness to society, both locally and globally...” He was a truly generous soul, he gave me so much of his precious time- he deliberated aloud, interspersing his talking with bits of poetry in various languages. In the course of our chat, I reminded him of a good Bulgarian tradition in the spirit of Buditelite. After our liberation from Turkish occupation, many young people were sent by their parents to study university abroad to imbibe the best of West European culture. But, most of them, came back and served their country in the best possible way. They contributed a great deal to the “retarded accelerated development” of Bulgaria. My companion got truly agitated when we hit on this topic. “Yes, that's right. The young Bulgarians who study and work abroad should be reminded of this Revival period tradition. And they should come back and share their Western experience to help Bulgaria turn into a first-rate EU country.” I don't try to avoid hard talk, i.e. sticky problems. I mention the decline in our educational system as a whole, point out some worrying trends like corruption and cheating in general. De Thracy responded to my words vehemently: “This is not the practice in the West, both at school and university. There are rich values and traditions in education and they are strictly kept, both by teachers and students. But, sometimes, there are isolated negative cases. Like that one, in a university in the South France where they traced a Chinese channel for buying diplomas. They were found out very fast and duly punished.” Then de Thracy swerved back to the topic of Bulgarian traditions in education, to education as a national value since the times of the Revival period. “You know, when I got a fellowship and arrived in Paris in the 7O's???, I had the best command of French among all foreign students, which speaks of itself about the quality of Bulgarian education. Later, I was capable of using French creatively, writing my own poetry and translating the best Bulgarian poets, both classical and modern. I would like to single out particularly one among the modern poets, Radko Radkov, who passed away recently. He is a sparklingly bright star in the constellations in the skies of the world poetry. His love sonnets can be compared with those of Shakespeare and Petrarka. His verse historical dramas like “Theofano” can be compared with those of T.S. Eliot and they deserve to be produced in the best theaters of Europe. I have translated a lot of his works and he already belongs to the Pantheon of the Great Poets. So, he is there to live forever.” It was time o go back to one of the conference halls – de Thracy had to read his essay, dedicated to the image of the rose in the history of world poetry. It suddenly occurred to me to ask him in a frivolous manner: “Could you name a dream, yet to be fulfilled?” “Certainly, I have such a dream!”he exclaimed and laughed like a mischievous boy, his eyes acquiring a roguish sparkle. “I dream of having a Temple built, a Temple of World Poetry, provided with all the latest multimedia/state of the art/ equipment. I'm sure it will make a difference in the souls of those, who make their pilgrimage there. And this will make the world a better place, won't it?”