Of Gentle Wolves: An Anthology of Romanian Poetry

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Romanian & English · Translated by Martin Woodside

Release: July 2011
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Praise for Of Gentle Wolves

“A scintillating, eclectic sampler of voices from across half a century of achievement by one of Europe’s strongest and most vital poetry traditions.” —Adam Sorkin, author of The Romanians Before the Revolution and Rough Lines: Romanian Poetry,Truth and Heroic Irony under Ceauşescu’s Dictatorship

“There is more life breathing in this anthology of Romanian verse selected by Martin Woodside than in many others, due largely to the young American poet’s fresh reading of and fascination with Romanian poetry. This rich and surprising display comprises voices from several generations, and a sense of coherence paradoxically emerges from the very freedom and diversity of the selection. The compelling landscape has been mapped out from decades of Romanian lyrical writing, with a poet’s cultivated insight and a foreigner’s unprejudiced approach. The anthology is a warm, ‘Invitation au Voyage’ to a land defined by its poetry.” —Ioana Ieronim, author of Triumph of the Waterwitch

“This dedicated anthology is a dynamic and exciting reflection of the voices from contemporary Romania, led by transgressive poems by the father of Romanian surrealism Gellu Naum. With a slightly different pitch of voice, and a slightly different angle of imagination, these poems offer a journey into the poetry you won’t find elsewhere.” —Valzhyna Mort, author of Collected Body and Factory of Tears

Of Gentle Wolves: the paradox of this book’s title runs with artful power through every subsequent page. It’s a vibrant, chaotic place these days, Romania, and its poets are working at breakneck speed to make up for decades—for centuries—of damage, repression, and silence. Here are Gellu Naum’s lyric histories set alongside Chris Tanasescu’s hyperactive polyphonies; here the ‘helplessness’ and ‘home’ of Angela Marinescu’s urgent lyrics serve as counterpoint to the formal dignities (and indignities) of Leonid Dimov. But these juxtapositions are truly Romania itself: ancient mountains-and-plains landscapes yielding to shattered urban hubs; endless political narratives of conquest and recovery; a language bearing the stamp of countless travelers-through from the Romans to the Turks and Russians. Martin Woodside has given us an astute new glimpse into the place. Of Gentle Wolves is the best introduction to recent Romanian poetry I know.” —David Baker, author of Never-Ending Birds and Treatise on Touch: Selected Poems

 


About the Book

Amidst a history of upheaval, from Roman subjugation to the fall of communism in 1989, Romania’s fostered a persevering spirit and a strong poetic tradition. “Every Romanian is born a poet,” goes a popular idiom, and Of Gentle Wolves: An Anthology of Romanian Poetry aims to bring the very best of the country’s contemporary poets together in a single volume. Individual poems from Of Gentle Wolves: An Anthology of Romanian Poetry have appeared in Brooklyn Rail, Poetry International, Poesis International (Romania), and qarrtsinluni.

Excerpt:

SONNET XL
Leonid Dimov

Sturdy, one last bite before I go
Framed in the door at exactly six
Through the universe’s dim morning glow
Watching my official photo reproduce.

I looked the same if a bit washed out
Losing through the vast scattered gas
Only some gestures, signs, and shadows
Fluttering along the gleaming streets.

I return with enamel insignia on my skin
A certain peace in my body as I slip in
As I do every evening around six.

And I leave my heavy boots on the old mat
Where several identical pairs now sat
Falling in the long line at the entrance.

Translated by Martin Woodside and Chris Tanasescu

Leonid Dimov

Authors in this anthology, from top left: Marin Sorescu, Gellu Naum, Constantin Acosmei, Radu Vancu, Angela Marinescu, Dan Coman, Ioan Moldovan, O. Nimigean, Robert Şerban, Leonid Dimov, Gabriel Decuble, Ana Blandiana, Chris Tanasescu, Nicolae Coande

About the Translator: Martin Woodside’s poetry chapbook Stationary Landscapes came out in 2009 (Pudding House Press), and he spent 2009-10 on a Fulbright in Romania. He lives with his family in Philadelphia where he’s pursuing a PhD in Childhood Studies at Rutgers-Camden.

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June 14, 2011