Romania Rocks: When Distance Becomes Air with Ruxandra Cesereanu and Andrei Codrescu

Two of Romania’s foremost literary figures, poets and authors Ruxandra Cesereanu (Cluj, Romania) and Andrei Codrescu (NY, USA), defy space and time through readings and conversations for lucid dreamers. Hosted by Gabriela Mocan.

3 November, 6:30pm, online | Livestream on RCI London’s Facebook page and recorded on YouTube channel from Tue 4 November

Ruxandra Cesereanu was born in Cluj, Romania, on August 17, 1963. Over the last two decades, she established herself is an important Romanian poet and prose writer who has been awarded a number of literary honors. She is also Professor at the Faculty of Letters (Department of Comparative Literature) in Cluj, member of the staff of the Center for Imagination Studies (Phantasma) and director of the Creative Writing Workshops on poetry, prose and movie scripts.

Cesereanu’s prolific literary achievements begin with eight books of poetry: Gradina deliciilor / Garden of Delights (Cluj: Echinox, 1993); Zona vie / Live Zone (Cluj: Dacia, 1993); Cadere deasupra orasului / Fall Over the City (Sibiu: Transpress, 1994 – awarded the Prize for Poetry of the Writers Association in Cluj); Oceanul Schizoidian / Schizoidian Ocean (Timisoara: Brumar, 1998, and 2nd edition, Bucharest: Vinea, 2006); Venetia cu vene violete. Scrisorile unei curtezane / Venice with Violet Veins. Letters of a Courtesan (Cluj: Dacia, 2002); Kore-Persephone (Bucharest: Vinea, 2004 – which won the Prize for Poetry of the Writers Association in Cluj); Coma (Bucharest: Vinea, 2008 – awarded the Prize for Poetry of the Writers Association in Cluj); California (pe Somes) California (upon Somesh) (Bistrita: Charmides: 2014); Scrisoare către un prieten și înapoi către țară / Letter to a friend and back to the country (Bucharest: Paralela 45, 2018, 2019). Cesereanu has also published two bibliophile editions: The Body–The Soul (in an edition of 20, 1998, with the artist Calin Stegerean) and California (pe Somes) California (upon Somesh), 2014 (in an edition of 77 signed copies).

Cesereanu has also participated in producing a pair of experimental co-authored books: Submarinul iertat / Forgiven Submarine, written together with Andrei Codrescu (Timisoara: Brumar, 2007), translated in English in 2009 by Andrei Codrescu (Boston: Black Widow Press, USA); and Tinutul Celalalt / The Otherland, written together with Marius Conkan (Bucharest: Cartea Romaneasca, 2011).

Three books of Cesereanu’s poetry have appeared in English: Schizoid Ocean (translated by Claudia Litvinchievici, Binghamton: esf publishers, 1997); Lunacies (translated by Adam J. Sorkin, Claudia Litvinchievici and the poet, New York: Spuyten Duyvil / Meeting Eyes Bindery imprint, 2004); and Crusader-Woman (translated by Adam J. Sorkin, Claudia Litvinchievici, Madalina Mudure and the poet, Boston: Black Widow Press, 2008). Ruxandra Cesereanu is also the selector and hobbyist of the anthology Moods & Women & Men & Once Again Moods – An Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Erotic Poetry (Forward by Margento, Tracus Arte & Calypso Publishing House, 2015).

Andrei Codrescu was born in Sibiu, Romania, and emigrated to the United States in 1966 where he has lived ever since. Codrescu’s poetry explores themes of identity, exile, and transformation with bold irreverence. He is the author of dozens of books of poetry, including Jealous Witness (Coffee House Press, 2008), It Was Today (Coffee House Press, 2003), and his debut, License to Carry a Gun (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1970), which won the Big Table Poetry Award. He is also the recipient of the 2005 Ovidius Prize.

In 1983 Codrescu founded Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Books & Ideas. He has edited several annual anthologies of work from the journal, as well as the anthologies American Poets Say Goodbye to the 20th Century (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1996) and American Poetry Since 1970: Up Late (Four Walls Eight Windows, 1996). He collaborated with Ruxandra Cesereanu on The Forgiven Submarine (Black Widow Press, Boston 2009).

At home in multiple genres, Codrescu has also authored nonfiction, including the retelling Whatever Gets You through the Night: A Story of Scheherazade and the Arabian Entertainments (Princeton University Press, 2011); The Poetry Lesson (Princeton University Press, 2010), a teaching memoir; The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara & Lenin Play Chess (Princeton University Press, 2009); and the memoir The Hole in the Flag: A Romanian Exile’s Story of Return and Revolution (William Morrow, 1991). Codrescu wrote and starred in the 1993 documentary film Road Scholar, for which he won a Peabody Award as well as Best Documentary awards from the Seattle International Film Festival and the San Francisco International Film Festival. He can be heard regularly on National Public Radio’s program All Things Considered. His collection of poems, So Recently Rent a World, New and Selected Poems: 1968-2012 (Coffee House Press 2013) was long-listed in 2013 for the National Book Award.

Codrescu has taught at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Baltimore, and Louisiana State University, where he was the MacCurdy Distinguished Professor of English until his retirement in 2009.

Forgiven Submarine for Orchestra, music by Shane Monds, based on poetry of R. Cesereanu and A. Codrescu

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