…what do I think of Adrian Paunescu? Let me say just this (and get into huge trouble…). If indeed someone, some excellent anthologist, who understands and loves poetry, AND has utmost artistic integrity – would be allowed to trawl through the thousands of poems of Adrian Paunescu, get rid of all the dross, she or he would be able to come up with 100 maybe 120 absolute gems (and NOTE, that is about how many great poems the great Mihai Eminescu himself has written). Should such a volume be published (which I think is a MUST) then I do think the position of Paunescu as one of the absolute greats in Romanian poetry will be uncontestable. When I read just such poems, for me Adrian Paunescu is most definitely in the top three. In Adrian Păunescu, the artist is so closely integrated with the man, with the cultural crusader he was (and I am using this word deliberately) with the cultural phenomenon he initiated and lead over about 14 years, and to the controversy surrounding all of it, that I will need to at least touch of his extra-poetical activities. The man, the movement he created, the politics he indulged in, the poetry linked to it at times – they cannot easily be separated. Adrian Păunescu is bona-fide member of the famous 1960ies generation (along with Ana Blandiana and Nichita Stănescu, among others).
…His energy was boundless, his leadership inspirational, and personality and charisma were such, that at his events, people were transported into a spiritual/akin-to-religious fervor. People present there… told me that by the end of one Paunescu’s monumental events, they felt they could do anything he would have asked them to do – even storm the Presidential Palace!
…Literary critic Alex Ștefănescu underlines the fact that Păunescu knows how to bring something, an issue, a feeling, a happening – to the surface and shove it in your face. Sometimes with genius, and you will love it and swallow it whole. Sometimes you feel uncomfortable, if not nauseated.
The contradictions of the man, to use again Alex Ștefănescu’s description, span from being a non-conformist who often behaves with disappointing conformity, immense lyrical talent often misspent in prosaic enterprises, generosity exploited by many and recognised by very few. A writer loved by those who do not have the courage to hate him and hated by those who would wish with all their heart to love him.
…“Everything irritates me about this poet, apart from his poetry”. (Eugen Barbu)
… He is one of the few represented with four poems in Testament – 400 Years of Romanian Poetry, and I will recite all those four poems to you. In English first and then in Romanian. I could have chosen any other four, from the 100 or so I consider absolute genius poems, but you’ll have to do these four. I bet you’ll beg me to translate more, after you hear them.
First the heartbreaking love-loss poem Legal Division. Then a poem which my co-translator and singer-songwriter Daniel Reynaud labels as one of the best anti-war poems ever written, on par with anything Bob Dylan might have produced – called naturally Against War.
The third is a quintessential depiction of the soul of Romania, its peasants – Three parts in Heaven. Finally, and finishing with a flourish, is the sublimely grotesque allegory, in which Păunescu will convince you to love Death. Yes Death, since it is the only thing with makes life, such an amazingly worthwhile experience to be cherished in every second of existence: The illusion of an Island.
Enjoy! Sursa:

Romanian Poetry in English – Episode 10 – Adrian Păunescu

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