Ilko Drenkov: Talent in Disguise
Contributing author: Alina Fattakhova
A cozy sofa with a little table, a desk with a computer and scattered documents, light yellow walls decorated with colorful paintings from local artists and cards from different places – this is the office where Ilko Drenkov works as a Residence Hall Director of a dormitory of the American University in Bulgaria Skaptopara II.
Students spend time at Drenkov’s office asking questions, complaining about their problems,or talking about their lives. However, not all of them know that he is a poet and an author of essays and articles.
Drenkov grew up in Sandanski, 60 kilometers south of Blagoevgrad. He finished an English language school there and moved to Blagoevgrad to study history and history of arts at the South-West University.
He joined the AUBG community when he started working in the Admissions Office as Admissions Counselor and Recruitment Coordinator. Later, on November 1st, 2004, he moved to Residence Life as a Director of Skaptopara II Residence Hall.
Drenkov is very passionate about his job, which makes it joyful and easier for him. “There are young people around, encouraging you to be connected with arts, literature and history,” Drenkov said.
Furthermore, he recently earned his Ph.D. in history and is happy to have successfully defended his thesis. Now Drenkov has more free time to focus on writing poetry.
He started writing poems in 1978 when he was a child and attended the kindergarten. He was inspired by his surroundings. “The early poems from my childhood came to my mind from the feelings about pets, dogs, cats, squirrels, trees and seasons,” he said.
Drenkov’s poetry improved significantly during his high school and university years when he started reading interesting books and writing more poems. He was inspired by different writers and authors such as Hristo Botev, Peyo Yavorov, Jacque Prevert, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Steinbeck and Edgar Allan Poe.
The early poems gave him the basis for publishing his first book “Glass Pieces” in 2000. Drenkov wrote it while he was a student. He calls it revolutionary and emotional. “Those were the riddle years of my life when I questioned everything, trying to analyze and see how the things work,” he said.
“Glass Pieces” explores the idea that life is like pieces of glass that have different colors and shapes; they can be natural or artificial, bright or faded. “The pieces create a colorful collage, a painting, and represent the feelings of oscillation, going from satisfaction to disappointment,” Drenkov said.
Critics gave ambivalent feedback on Drenkov’s first book. When he gave his book to two of his colleagues, he realized that they perceived it differently: one of them was trying to avoid him the next day, while the other one said that the book was wonderful.
“I respect all types of criticism; it is helpful for a poet,” Drenkov said. “I am not demanding everybody to be satisfied with my book.”
His second book, “Senses,” was published in 2004 with the help of the municipality of Sandanski. The book is available in the Internet at LiterNet.bg, a Bulgarian Website of literature.
“Senses” is a collection of poems written during Drenkov’s years of maturity, wisdom and peace. “These are the years when the revolution stands back and gives place to evolution,” he said.
The name “Senses” brings the idea of sadness and enjoyment at the same time. “The philosophical ideas represent that nothing is too good, nothing is too bad,” the author said. “Everything is the way you perceive, see and express.”
Currently Drenkov is planning to finish and publish his third collection of poems under the name “Empathy.” He admits that in the past five years some poems were naturally written in English because of his constant communication with international students. It gave him the idea to make the book bilingual: in Bulgarian and English. “The world reads in English,” Drenkov said. “In that way I will reach bigger audience.”