This post is to reply to the comments to the previous one:
To John: I didn't meet any poets in Bulgaria, and still know nothing about Bulgarian poetry. This is due to to my double-life, mentioned before on this blog, whereby no-one I work with knows I have anything to do with poetry. I intend to keep it that way. I don't know why. A strange quirk in my personality.
To Ed: I too am excited about discovering and exploring (if that's not too colonial a metaphor) Stein's work. The more I read her work, the more I think she's one of the greats, in the sense that great writers invent forms which subsequent writers perform variations on. Writing her autobiography through the persona of her life-partner is a brilliant ruse. But it's one thing to think of a brilliant ruse, quite another to implement it successfully; of course, she does, and manages to extract the maximum humour, irony and subversion from it. I'm also amazed at the sheer volume of her output. How to Write sounds like something I'd like to read. And is The Making of Americans available in full?
To Alistair: that's interesting; I'm not surprised that people in Bulgaria can't afford to travel. I was taken aback by the poverty-stricken state of Sofia. Not what you expect from a European capital city. I read that's it's the poorest country in Europe, and that during the 90s inflation reached 579%. It seems to have had the closest links to the Soviet Union of any eastern bloc country, and the people there told me there's still a hankering after the communist days, especially amongst the older generation. Meanwhile, some of the young people I spoke to see the free market as the answer to their problems...