Poetry Travels by Anna Blasiak and Lisa Kalloo: WHAT COMES by Magda Cârneci, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Mădălina Bănucu

what comes

snakes   worms    frogs
       mire-filled stuttering
of a lipless mouth
                             rising slowly
to whisper from the depths

albatross    seagulls    fireflies
        the beginnings of an immense word
drops of sweat
        anticipating an orgy

what comes destroys words.

By Magda Cârneci

Translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Mădălina Bănucu

From A Deafening Silence (Shearsman Books, 2017)


Magda Cârneci is a poet, art essayist, and prose writer. A cerebral poet, her work has been described as open ‘to daily life and incandescent “reality”, a trademark of Romanian poetry in the 1980s, on the one hand, and to programmatic and conceptual poetry on the other’, according to poet-translator Claudiu Komartin.

After the Revolution of December 1989, Cârneci became actively involved in the political and cultural Romanian scene. Awarded a Ph.D. in art history in Paris in 1997, the poet has taken on diverse public positions: as a visiting professor at INALCO in Paris (2001-2005) and director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in Paris (2006-2010). She is the former president of PEN Romania and a member of the European Cultural Parliament.

Two of her volumes of poetry in Romanian have been translated into English: Chaosmos (Terra Incognita, 2006), A Deafening Silence (Shearsman, 2017), and others have been translated into French and Dutch.

Read a poem of hers in English translation in Poetry International.


Adam J. Sorkin has published more than fifty books of Romanian translations and has won numerous awards, including the Poetry Society (UK)’s Popescu Translation Prize for Marin Sorescu’s The Bridge, the Kenneth Rexroth Memorial Translation Prize, the Ioan Flora Translation Prize, and the Poesis Translation Prize, among others. His most recent books are The Hunchbacks’ Bus by Nora Iuga, translated with Diana Manole (Bitter Oleander Press) and Syllables of Flesh by Florian Tutuianu, translated with Irma Gianetti (Plamen Press).


Mădălina Bănucu received her B.A. in English Language and Literature from Babeș-Bolyai University. She started her translation career as part of MTTLC, and M.A. programme offered by the University of Bucharest. She has focused on the translation of contemporary poetry and prose.


Photo by Lisa Kalloo

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