A Window into the Newest Poetry in Romanian by Mircea Dan Duta

Mircea Dan Duta in Prague, January 2020

When are we mature enough to possess our own mobile phone? Before or after writing our first really good poem? (Or – should it really be so good? Isn’t enough to just write it, just to have it, to aim for something like artistic quality and/or beauty of literature; the way one is used to defining it or to approach it from any possible angle, and to make one’s best for getting as close as possible to it?

I am not sure if I am able to answer those questions in their entirety. One of the reasons is connected to the simple fact that I have no idea how old Cristina Dicusar, Toni Chira, Teona Farmatu, Artur Cojocaru, Julie Iaroslavschi or Antonia Mihăilescu were when they got their first mobile phones, tablets or laptops. However, I know how charming and surprisingly convincing their poems were when they were only 15 to 17 years old.

I may only observe that some of them became international authors quite soon after gaining literary fame at home. For instance, I recommended myself Arthur Cojocaru for an anthology of South-Eastern European Poetry compiled by British poet and translator Tom Edward Phillips in 2018. I am happy to say it again and again: it was a very good choice.

Another success story is that of the 27-year-old PhD student Cristina Dicusar, whose strong, concentrated and deeply philosophical poems impressed and astonished the Czech and Slovak audience in Prague and in Holič during the literary tour I organized in January this year and that was meant to focus on the youngest poetic generations, writing in Romanian. The excellent poetic school in the West Bank of the Prut river embodies the artificial boundary between the Romanians in Romania and the ones in the Republic of Moldova, the ones Stalin, the Red Army insisted on calling the “Moldovans”, and the entire Soviet and Post-Soviet generations have continued to do so? Prepared, stimulated, coordinated and educated in the spirit of the Romanian literature by great poets, pedagogues and patriots like Dumitru Crudu, Monica Stănilă or Sandu Vakulovski, the youngest generation of poets in today’s Moldova have had great environment and conditions to grow into the best writers in Romanian.

Paradoxically, the right bank of the Prut hasn’t always been a Real match for Bessarabia, and if ever, rather on a regional basis. In other words, there were very strong years of the Transylvanian, Banat, Constanța, Brașov, Galați or even Bucharest poetry, but also years when the “Romanians from Romania” had to admit they were no match for their “Moldavan” colleagues.

Fortunately, it is not the case today: a very strong generation of outstanding poets begins to emerge in the Romanian Bukovina, the main and the most powerful sources being the cities of Suceava, Dej, Câmpulung Moldovenesc, Piatra-Neamț and Gura Humorului. And quite surprisingly again, there is a regional distribution of talents, concentrated in the “Petru Rareș” high-school în Suceava and in the Paper Wall Literary Club led by older, more experienced authors and literary critics Vlad Sibechi, Florin Dan Prodan, Radu Andriescu, Matei Hutopilă and Paul Mihalache.

 Besides the above-mentioned names, we should not forget about the other equally talented poets. They forged and consolidated the strength and the style of youngest Romanian poetry after the centennial year of 2018: the very sensitive and (given her very young age) incredibly erudite Teona Farmatu from the city of Piatra Neamț (close to Bukowina), the courageously:”citadine” voice of Sorina Rindas, that embodies the spirit of the contemporary and historical stronghold of Suceava; the civic spirit within the very personal poetry of the only 17-year old Toni Chira, (not only) in my opinion, the unrivalled leader of “his” generation and beyond -, the apparently delicate, but not at all weak, yet strongly convincing voice of Antonia Mihăilescu; the formally self-confident poems of the apparently self-confident and well-balanced student of the “Grigore Moisil” Computers High School in the City of Jassy Luca Stefan Ouatu, the excellent organisational spirit and the very deep and formally provocative texts sometimes connected to Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” of Andreea Apostu.  She is also one of the instigators, together with Toni Chira, of one of the few and excellent platforms dedicated to the contemporary and youngest Romanian poetry. Last but not least, the delicate, sensitive and painfully mature texts by Malina Lipara, a (very) young Lady-Poet who understands perhaps the best of all (“I am of the age of all that is separating us” – possibly the most convincing female cry of despair I have ever heard.

The female perspective, the drama of 3000-year of womanhood, is something I observe with awe, admiration but am unable to capture it with only a few phrases. No more than I am able to capture the complex and exciting phenomenon of contemporary Romanian poetry in a mere short “wannabe” essay. I would rather stop here.

About the Author:

Dr. Mircea Dan Duta is a poet, academic, film scientist and a member of the Czech and Romanian PEN Clubs. Moreover, he is a university lecturer and a producer and presenter of cultural events. He writes in his second language – Czech. His two poetry collections (in Czech) – Krajiny, Lety a Diktáty (2014)  and  Plechové citáty, mindráky a lidská práva (2015) were published by the Petr Štengl publishers. His texts have been translated into many languages in more than 15 countries in Europe, America and Asia. He also translates from Polish, Slovak, and (to) Czech.