AUBG student Martina Gerenska: 'Poetry has changed me in many ways'
She is the author of two poetry books. She has won several competitions since the age of eight. She is studying at two universities simultaneously. She is Martina Gerenska. Read our interview with her to learn more about her personality, accomplishments and favorite free-time activities.
What are the three most interesting things the AUBG community should know about you?
The three most interesting things the AUBG community should know about me are perhaps that I am parallelly studying at two universities in Blagoevgrad. The first one is AUBG, of course. And, the second one is the South-West University. Another interesting thing that comes to my mind is that I am studying Russian. And the third one is that I am a poet.
If you have to describe yourself with one word, what would it be and why?
I can’t actually describe myself with one word, but I will try to describe myself with one sentence: I AM MARTINA. Actually, this is the title of my second book I AM MARTINA. So, this describes me well, I believe. And if I have to choose only one word, it will be creative. I consider myself to be a creative person because I love trying new things. Actually, I have many hobbies, which have to do with creativity.
What is your greatest achievement?
I don’t believe that I have greatest achievement in life. My family and my closest friends for me are my greatest accomplishment. They are real treasure. The trust, the support and the love I receive from them makes me stronger.
When did you first become interested in writing? In what ways has writing poetry changed you? How did you decide to write a book when you were only at the age of 17?
It’s an interesting story. It was back in the days when I was in second grade – eight years old, and there was a competition in my school in Sandanski. I decided to write something. It was for the June 1 – the Children’s Day in Bulgaria. That is how my first poem came to life and I even won in this competition. Since then, I’ve been writing, and writing, and writing.
Poetry has changed me in many ways, I believe. Writing has become part of my life, part of my daily routine and everything. I believe that writing is one of the most essential things in my life. It has changed me for good. I’ve become even more creative. I’ve become more passionate about writing. I’ve become even more positive. When I write, I shed my negative energy away and I “clear” myself to a certain degree.
I don’t think that there is a time too early or too late to write a book. I think that writing my first book came naturally. I had like 20-20 something poems and I decided that I want to share them with more people. And, for that reason, I decided to write and publish a book – to share it with a larger audience.
Tell us a bit more about your experience with poetry: one of your poems was used as lyrics of a song composed by Ivan Yurukov and Stoyan Boshkilov and you were also featured on bTV news for your achievements.
Stoyan Boshkilov is a famous Bulgarian painter. He is actually a friend of mine. And, he invited me for a coffee in one of the villages near Sandanski, which is called Lyubovka. Stoyan and Ivan Yurukov – a popular Bulgarian actor – were mirror painting in one of the churches. This was the first time I met Ivan, actually. We were talking about art and I mentioned that I am writing poems. Then, Ivan asked me if I can share one or several of them with him. And, I shared three of my poems – “The Most Beautiful Flowers,” “I am Martina” and one more. All of them are part of my second book. Ivan really liked “The Most Beautiful Flowers.” He told me, “Why don’t we make lyrics out of this?” And, I was really surprised – “We are going to make lyrics out of my poem?”
Then, I traveled back to Sandanski and in two hours I received a message in Viber. It was Stoyan. He shared a video. They were singing and playing the guitar. Actually, this was my song. And, I was really, really surprised.
The featuring on the news was also a surprise. I didn’t know about it because the day after I was in Lyubovka, the bTV news crew came to conduct an interview with Ivan and Stoyan. And, because they are artists, they had their guitars and their instruments there. So, it was a surprise for me because one of the reporters from bTV asked them about the guitars and everything, and they said “Okay. We will show you something. We just made it yesterday with a friend of us.” And, they shared the song.
What did the process of publishing your first two books involve?
It involves a lot of money and effort, and nerves. There was a difference, for sure, between publishing my first and second book. The second book cam easier and faster, I believe, because I already knew the publishing house and they helped me a lot. My family is the one that supported me on the highest possible level. And I put a lot of nerves in the first book. I wrote it for two years or something. I just want to mention that both books came naturally. I don’t wake up in the morning and say “Okay! Let’s write a poem today!” It’s just the inspiration that comes to you.
What led you to study at AUBG?
I considered AUBG as an option from the very beginning – in the eleventh grade – because this is a perhaps the most prestigious university in Bulgaria. And, I was wondering whether I should study abroad or in Bulgaria. My plans were to study in Bulgaria, but then I changed my mind – to study abroad. And, after that, I told myself “Let’s study here, in Blagoevgrad.” I just felt it.
What is it like to combine being a student at two universities simultaneously?
I won’t lie, it’s often very difficult. But I have always wanted to study law. That’s why I’m studying Law in SWU. I wanted to study in English and this is what led me to AUBG. Sometimes it’s very difficult because I’m also studying Russian now and there is a mixture of languages in my head.
What has been your experience as an English teacher at a private school in Blagoevgrad?
I was a teacher for one year. It was very fun because little kids give you energy that people at our age can’t give you. So, it was very interesting each time. The students there were at age of five-six up to seven years old. To prepare one class, which is one hour, it took me one hour of preparation. We had many activities and games. We sang a lot. It’s a different method of teaching. Helen Doron is the one that created it. This is also the name of the school. With songs, videos, and games, and different activities, we teach children how to learn easily. So, this school is present in 35 countries in the world, I think. And, one of them is here in Bulgaria. So, we are lucky to have this private school in Blagoevgrad. The experience there was adventurous, especially with the kids’ parents. It was challenging many times.
You were also a reporter at one of the newest Bulgarian TV channels – Bulgaria ON AIR? What did the work there involve?
When I was at high school I worked for the local radio. We had a teenager show, if I can put it that way, every Saturday. So last summer I decided it’s time to try something new. One of my friends who works in Bulgaria ON AIR asked me “Do you want to try to work with us?” And I decided to make an internship with them during the summer. because I had time and with the pandemic we couldn’t go to Work & Travel or somewhere abroad, at least it was difficult to travel. So, I decided to move to Sofia for at least two months and I worked for this television as a reporter. We conducted many interviews with famous Bulgarian singers and actors. it was very interesting and different from my previous experience.
You graduated from the local Foreign Language High School in Blagoevgrad in 2018. What are the foreign languages you know and the ones you would like to learn in the future?
I studied English and French at high school simultaneously. But French is my second language. I don’t know French very well. I didn’t study Russian at school and I can’t say I know it so well. But, I am studying it now.
For sure, the language that is most interesting to me is Arabic. I want to learn it in the future. I also want to learn Chinese if I have enough spare time in a few years.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Wow. Many, many things. Of course, as I writer, I love reading books. I also enjoy hiking, off-road, rafting, swimming and even diving. I love to be close to the nature and just be myself. I am writing poems. I am playing the violin from time to time. I am practicing tennis. I am painting. So, I am doing many, many things in my free time.
What are your plans and dreams for the near future?
I am planning to study abroad, maybe in Russia – in Moscow, more specifically. I really like the Russian culture and history. In the professional aspect, I am interested in psychology, so I plan to at least studying that and then I will decide what to do for a living.