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Virginia Zaharieva: “It is enough to be faithful to the message that you have for the world.”

June 6, 2010 by · 1 comment

An interview by Yasen Vasilev and Natalia Nikolaeva with Virginia Zaharieva
Translation from Bulgarian: Asya Draganova

Virginia Zaharieva

“Stories can teach, repair mistakes, enlighten the heart and chase away the dark, they can provide psychological shelter, and contribute to change and the healing of wounds.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estés

The reason for our meeting with Virginia Zaharieva is her book “9 Rabbits,” but is also in respect to aj interest in the various aspects of her persona – she is a storyteller, a poet, a psychotherapist, and a journalist.

This conversation with Virginia consists of two parts – my interview with Virginia and Yasen’s.

Virginia Zaharieva

  • Interview with Virginia Zaharieva by Natalia Nikolaeva

If you had the chance to create your own TV show or a magazine what would your concept for it be?

A magazine of the spirit. About personal growth. About discovering yourself.

Would you share with us briefly your experience with your specialisation in Radio France international, Paris?

I have a few specialisations in RFI and one French television channel. The most useful one was the one dealing with the making of cultural television programmes. We developed speed, concentration, and behavioural freedom in front of the camera.

It was so amusing; once, I was commenting on a cultural event and in my headgear I could hear my colleagues asking me ridiculous things which I had to answer straight away – for example how much sugar does my nan put in her coffee or do I love to wear hats.

To be in the kitchen of “Cultural Stock”, Bernard Pivot’s programme, was a truthful confession. There is devotion to culture emanating from this man, intelligence, professionalism and spontaneity. That is the best cultural show I have ever seen.

How did your work as a creative and general editor of the magazine “P.S” broaden your horizon?

“P.S.” was more of a gesture, rather than a press product. On its cover it is written – a magazine for feminine spirituality and integration between the genders. You can understand the Other only when you have already understood yourself.

The work for “P.S.” was a gaze into the language with which women and men speak. Into terms such as new femininity, the initiation of the man, balance, what a woman wants and whom from; issues such as travelling, alcohol, addictions, homosexuality, and female writings. I am grateful for this experience because today I can be interested in the human being as a whole. The man and the woman are one, despite all the differences between us. Indeed, we are one in our individuality. All of us reflect the pulse of the Earth and the sun in our own ways.

Which of the methods of analytical psychotherapy do you use in the centre for psychoanalysis, meditative techniques and arts in “The Yellow House”? What do you aim at with your work there?

I follow the method of body-orientated psychotherapy. I am a follower of the Neoreichian school and I enrich it with Eastern techniques for harmonising the body, mind and soul. “The Yellow House” was also a centre of the techniques created by the Indian philosopher and spiritual teacher OSHO.

These are dynamic meditations and therapy processes for self-recognition ad centralisation. In my cabinet I use the therapy of five movements developed by my professor Vlado Bernaskoni.

Bioenergetic breathing is a method through which muscle blocks in the body are softened in order to gain access to subconscious material. Then the subconscious is turned into conscious thought through its recognition and the use of cognitive methods. I also exploit behavioural therapy, elements of psychodrama and art therapy. Every human being is unique and demands an individual approach to their needs. The therapist creates a world together with their client in the real time of the session, during which lost skills and dimensions of the self are sought. A feeling of unity and harmony is rediscovered with the feeling of being yourself, and with the manifestation of that feeling, the desire of being understood is answered.

How do journalism, psychology and the writing of books inter-relate?

They are different aspects of the interpretation of the world. It is enough to be faithful to the message that you have for the world. Mine is the pleasure of life, happiness and creation of beauty. I am searching for a greater scale of all this.

Media is the instrument, psychology is one of the possible interpretations, and the writing of books is a necessity, going in depth and finding metaphors, which are able to influence with greater strength. As a whole the three of them reflect reality.

I am trying to stay aware so that I can feel it, understand it and re-create it in benefit of myself and others.

Who are some contemporary authors and journalists whom you like?

Momchil Nikolov, Elena Aleksieva, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Erica Jong, Joanne Harris, Abe Kóbó.

The people in media I like include the works of Georgi Toshev, Diana Ivanova, Kalina Androlova, Marin Varbanov, Petar Volgin and Mira Badzheva.

Here I would like to mention the whole publisher policy of the QM team, lead by Kristiana Velikova, who is a phenomenon in the Bulgarian book and media market. They really create a stable cultural context with a lot of taste, openness to the world and are the best in our country at the moment.

What is the greatest challenge you are facing at the moment?

To live here and now.

Virginia Zaharieva

  • Interview by Yasen Vasilev with Virginia Zaharieva.

Why 10 years of silence?

Sometimes the gaining of new a language and approach to life takes time. After “Dance in the late afternoon”* (“Kadril Kasno Sledobed” where “kadril” is a traditional Bulgarian dance that involves an even number of young women) I realised that it was dangerous to go on living like that. To write like that. That degree of so much writing leads to either self-destruction or destruction of the surrounding environment. Because it is attached to the writing subject.
The silence and the exclusion of something as important to me as writing is, gave me the space and the freedom to see myself in new ways. Therefore I gained a greater volume of interpretation of reality. When the author has identified themselves with their reason to raise their voice and embody that reason, then the art produced is very little. The author remains smaller than the problem they are attempting to solve.

This is art, where distance does not exist. But distance is important, so that more people can fit into the creation in accordance to their own abilities. In front of the authors the requirement for personal hygiene of the soul stands with a lot more strength. The idea is not to clean your own problems using others, even if that is delicately done. Our vocation is to ask ourselves the questions when its dark and we are alone with the unknown to an extent that allows us to deal with the problem of shape and form afterwards later, while we are working. We should know where we are leading our readers to.

Why prose and not poetry?

Because I want to tell stories. I love stories. All my life I’ve lied a little bit while telling a story about something that happened so that it sounds more impressive. I used to constantly annoy others by telling them stories from the past, because I thought that the present didn’t bring the excitement which I need. And because a lot of stories piled up, I decided I was going to collect some of them in “9 Rabbits” so they do wander here and there. It was in order for me to stop retelling my own life and open up space for new adventures.

After the poem “Inside you it is always half past six in the morning” I felt that I was not going to write anything better in poetry. I desired to see the whole life, living as a metaphor, and not to suck dry every moment for an image. In prose there is patience, process, consistency. The feeling of every breath being followed by another.

Prose makes me disciplined, keeps me in the process of creation longer and leads me into deeper waters where there are different fish are to be found. I am not give up poetry though, because it is always here – hot and responsive to save a final. To take me between the lines of reason.

Poetry is like an orgasm, that is the way I relate to it.

What is about to come? More poetry? More prose?

It is clear that there is more to be written. A flirt with images again – this time through cinema. Maybe a scenario. I keep on writing essays which have been ordered. I adore orders. They shake me strongly and the fruit that falls is the most tenacious of knowledge. However, I need a rest for the moment.

I am going to finish some material projects. I will urgently fill in some gaps through which a lot of energy flows because creating is just a well-controlled energy. I will travel.

To what extent is “9 Rabbits” autobiographical?


Something about the modern expressions of art – performance, happening, installation, multimedia?

Performance as a form works for me very well. Installation as well. With them, gesture, sound, image and words cooperate in real time in front of the audience. The beauty of something which is born and dies every next moment.

We are moving towards multimedia – artist, text, image, ambient and audience in the show “9 Rabbits” with Tzvetana Maneva.

Why “in corset of Sofia”: poetics?

Well, how should one read the text Corset?

Anything about other Bulgarian writers/poets?

The festival of Yasen Atanasov, “Poetics,” brought us together and it was a real celebration to see my writing colleagues in one place, together with so many young people who want to write and read. The success of the show “The Big Reading” affirms the interest towards Bulgarian authors. The more responsible perception of our work gives us the opportunity to have a deeper interest in other people’s work. We are one.

The success of one is a success for others who work in an intellectual context for our society. I need success. We need success. Bulgaria needs success! Needs successful people. We have to give that to each other. To give Bulgaria the best of ourselves. And to see what is going to happen afterwards.

How about Bulgarian criticism?

There are people who write in an interesting way. I am expecting more from the young critics. There is no good, modern, dynamic place for criticism. It should be established. Maybe your site is starting to fill that niche and I thank you for being there.

How about new Bulgarian literature?

There is upsurge in our literature at the moment. The great quantity of writing started to push forwards the quality as well. I am happy that this is happening in my time.

Virginia Zaharieva

Virginia Zaharieva is the author of three poetry books: “The Stone Who Does Not Listen To The River,” “The Chicken With The Sewed On Eye” and “Dance In The Late Afternoon.” Critics see her as one of the brightest examples of écriture féminine. Her poetry is expressive, passionate and unpredictable as the poet herself.

Virginia hardly fits into one sphere: she has 30 years of practice in all genres of journalism and publicity.

She writes, captures sounds, and explores the depths of the psychological. She is also the creator of the audio CD “The Sounds of Bulgarian Nature.”

The topic of vulnerability as the only door for love bring to life her performance on the topic “Vulnerability – five movements” and the documentary film with the same title. She is the author of a few installations – for people and mirrors, for text and metronome, for text and two toasters and for text and tomato soup.

She maintains the section ”Psychology of Space” in the design magazine “Brava Casa” and one for female psychology in the magazine “The Woman Today.”

She has a literature and psychology diploma from “Sofia University ‘Klimet Ohridski’”. She specialised in analytical psychotherapy in Switzerland with Prof. Vlado Bernaskoni. She practices in the sphere of individuality, family and group therapy.

She is the general editor of “P.S.” – the first gender magazine in Bulgaria.

Virginia established a spiritual centre for meditation and bodily-orientated therapy called “The Yellow House – a place for returning to the self.”

She swims, plays tennis, does snowboarding, windsurfing, participates in academic rowing and horse riding.

She adores Baron Münchhausen, especially his ability to drag himself out of the water alone. When she is bored she goes to bathe in a mineral water centre in the mountains, makes strange teas, peels vegetables, cooks, draws and dances. She is a grandchild of a gardener.

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