Interview With Mircea Ivanescu English Literature Essay


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I visited Mircea Ivanescu over a period of two years1998-2000 when we had several talks about poetry. During these talks he would sit with me patiently to help fill gaps in my knowledge of Pound's poetry and the intellectual adventure of the act of translation. I took no notes while I was seeing him because then I had no thought of turning my visits to any use except that of cultivating a friendship and acquiring knowledge. Therefore, the firsthand parts of my account are entirely from memory and in my translation and what I have written here has remained after being carefully sifted through memory's sieve; in fact, time may have brought on perspective.

Silvia Florea: Do you think that it is important for a writer to read his contemporaries?

Mircea Ivănescu: A writer has only one duty: to obey what he feels. The rest is irrelevant, though I do believe in the existence of a sacred geometrical place where all cultural energies will meet. There is a degree to which poems are intertextually interdependent. If art derives from art, it does so in often circuitous and oblique forms.

S.F.: Maybe I have an imperfect perception and knowledge of the Romanian literary scene, but I think that you are perceived as an eccentric lonely poetic figure. Could you comment on that?

M.I.: I have been all throughout my existence the performer of my own lyrical and existential masks. One of them could be the one you have just mentioned.

S.F.: What are you writing now? What are you translating now?

M.I.: In an unsystematic, diffuse perspective `a la mani`ere de Proust, pour a denial of effects and revelation, stir a verb treatment lost in usual expressions, probings, digressions and parantheses, add a confessional tone to confess nothing, all this in a pot of meditation which releases no deep thought, with an ingredient of mild, neurasthenic nostalgia, and you have just got an over-long answer to your question. An overbrief one would be: plain poetry.

S.F.: Do you write easily or with difficulty?

M.I.: Difficult to say. It depends.

S.F.: In your opinion, does it take a poet to translate poetry?

M.I.: It goes without saying that, of all types of translation, the translation of poetry is the most challenging and demanding, definitely so, because poetry is much more than mere semantic content or 'labelled reality' and always requires a new dimension, ethereal and ineffable; the poet translator is under a double constraint and pressure, of the target language as well as of the source language, but he is ultimately responsible for this new cross-cultural dimension, he is the point of contact between two worlds.

S.F.: How would you define your literary relationship with Ezra Pound?

M.I.: A common-sensical one.

3.5. Ezra Pound as Model for the Romanian Poetry of the Eighties

"Literature does not exist in a vacuum. Writers as such have a definite function exactly proportioned to their ability as writers. This is their main use. All other uses are relative, and temporary, and can be estimated only in relation to the views of a particular estimator."

( Ezra Pound - A B C of Reading )

After the poetic vacuum that marked the 1970s, it soon became necessary that a resurrection of lyricism, of the fantasy smothered by the "bookish mannerism" of the "lost generation" of 1970 be made in Romanian poetry. In 1977 a group of poets in Bucharest founded The Monday Literary Circle /Cenaclul de Luni, a powerful nucleus of the poetic movement that was to come, run by the literary critic Nicolae Manolescu; a number of intellectual confrontations with the young poets from other university towns, especially with the poets from Cluj-Napoca and Iasi have led to an uncommon existential and stylistic homogeneity manifest in the new kind of poetry, promoted by "the famous ten" from Bucharest and Cluj: Traian T. Coşovei, Florin Iaru, Radu Călin Cristea, Alexandru Muşina, Ion Stratan, Matei Vişniec, Mircea Cărtărescu, Călin Vlasie, Romulus Bucur and Mariana Marin, from Bucharest, and Marta Petreu, Emil Hurezeanu and Ion Mureşan, from Cluj.

This new type of poetic sensibility stemmed from various sources; from a clearly articulated "Echinox"-ist spirit (in Cluj-Napoca), a "Dialog"-ic poetic assertion (in IaÅŸi), a school of poetry set up during the Monday Literary Circle sessions, a distinct, heterogeneous direction promoted by the literary journal "Amphitheatre" / "Amfiteatru" in Bucharest, from the poetic spirit round the sporadic " Student Forum " / "Forum studenÅ£esc" and the weekly " Horizon " / "Orizont" literary magazines in TimiÅŸoara. The young poets were certainly no self-made poets. In Bucharest they were helped along by the managerial competence and logistic support provided by Nicolae Manolescu, Ovid. S. Crohmălniceanu and Mircea Martin, in Cluj-Napoca by Ion Pop, Marian Papahagi, Mircea Zaciu and Ion Vartic, in IaÅŸi by Al. Călinescu and in TimiÅŸoara by Liviu Ciocârlie. Likewise by Dan Culcer, LaurenÅ£iu Ulici, Åžtefan Augustin DoinaÅŸ and Eugen Simion, who, in their literary magazine articles and reviews, newspaper columns and through some notable publicistic initiatives, have largely contributed to the making and imposing of the "newcomers". Worth considering from their debut volumes, the writers of the new poetic wave have constantly distinguished themselves as genuine investigators of the substance of life with whom a new ontologic vision of reality has come under focus and close investigation. According to Gheorghe Crăciun, the generation's main anthologist, "it has soon become obvious that the reality explored by the poets and prose writers of the generation is an immediate one, lively and dynamic, sifted through a sharp biographical experience". 57 Hence, in this process of recuperating poetic "reality", the poets have proven to be fine psychologists and analysts. Constantly obsessed with the authenticity of intellectual acts and with the new reflection of existence, they have turned into remarkable cartographers of the ordinary and skillful manipulators of the experimental collage and textual montage techniques, seeing in their idiosyncratic descriptions and prosaic poetic discourse yet another chance given to experimental poetry, capable of turning passive readers into active interlocutors.

A great number of these poets' writings are what is generally called "collages" - with meaning being achieved through "collocation", out of a collision of fragments, which is no mere juxtaposition, but a joint of selected samples of writing, such as period documents or private papers, press cuttings, fragments of advertisements - all involved in a process of differentiation, in a tendency to rehabilitate the humble facts of life, the life in the streets and the daily routine.

3.5.1. Accrediting Romanian Postmodernist and Experimental Poetry

"Partisans of particular ideas may value writers who agree with them more than writers who don't, they may , and often do, value bad writers of their own party or religion more than good writers of another party or church. But there is one basis susceptible of estimation and independent of all questions of viewpoint. Good writers are those who keep the language efficient."

( Ezra Pound - A B C of Reading )

An article by Vasile Andru, in a 1980 issue of Echinox was entitled "Sticks in the Wheel of the Experiment" / "Beţe in roata experimentului" and contained a few fairly bitter symptomatic observations: in Romania there is no powerful innovative direction, but at most a grouping under the umbrella of experimentalism. Convinced that without artistic innovation literature is just walking without going anywhere, Vasile Andru considers that experiment is an opposition to the occultism of the real, an uninterrupted experience of the real and a discovery of a syntax of experimental experiences. Later he talks of the risks, the possibility of getting lost, of the fact that literary experiment is an adventure full of uncertainties in its own right. In 1980, experimentation is equivalent to innovation, and this confusion between experiment and novelty will continue throughout the decade. But a more serious confusion seemed to have developed around the values and forms which this subterfuge of unlimited innovation brought with it; hence, it so happened that mediocre, derivative and insignificant authors who were very productive and versatile managed almost overnight to achieve the position of representatives of the new direction. Some of them have preserved it to this day.

The experimental practice of the poets of the 1980s is, in Gheorghe Crăciun's view, based on the spectacle of semantic invention and on the fragmentary perception of immediate reality.

Their great obsession and fear remains the utterable, the language with all its semantic, phonetic, grammatical implications, speech in its most vital and direct form. The inner life of the text, regarded, at certain times as an implacably functional and methametical mechanism, at others as a hidden, unknown and undecipherable body, represents yet another vision, obstinately pursued by the poets of the 1980-s, who often questioned the traditional structures of epic and lyric creation, of the relation between stating and statement.Analysis, description, metaphor, story and symbol were all boldly pushed to their ultimate consequences, to the limit of meaning. 58

However, to Alexandru MuÅŸina, a poet of the movement himself, experimentalism has been ignited by the poets' urgent drive to re-modernize the "backyard", in an attempt to determine the proper place in the world's lyrical space; similarly in Monica Spiridon's view, experimentation, encourages the pluralism of formal options.

Post war experimental poetry invented ingenious methods to neutralize and block up the artistic channels potentially open to totalitarian vocations and dictatorial forms of representation with a mystifying aim. Demolishing conventional constraints (like genre fetish, for example), experimental policies encourage the pluralism of formal options, shaped in apparently disconcerting formulas… Or fragmentariness, developed up to verbal puzzle-like combinations, which were left with deliberate lack of consideration at the reader's disposal. 59

There is yet another point here, worth stressing; aesthetic experiment stimulates a series of polar alternatives and its essential dimension is its role of catalyzing mutation - hence the necessary relation between renewal and experiment. Lucian Blaga sustains that beyond the humoral drives and its idiosyncrasies it nourishes, experimentation is a particular case in the phenomenology of artistic innovation; within an experimental process, renewal becomes an aim, responding to a certain function and it consequently involves a well-defined theoretical programme.In this context I believe that an anatomy of experimentalism belonging to a certain literary period must not be interpreted in axiological terms, which is to say, that to be experimental does not act automatically as a criterion of value; experiment is always self-defining and should be assessed in certain circumstances where function and context rank first.

One of the battle cries ushering young poets into "postmodernist" area lately is "textualism". The label seems to me to be highly ambiguous and is brandished by both supporters and opponents, in contradictory acceptances of its meaning. To supporters, a "textualist" author cannot by any means be suspected to be producing literature in the way the bark of a tree produces resin, but rather in the way the spider patiently threads its cobweb. To opponents, however, the label would rather denote that the writer keeps at a distance from life and lapses into a sterile and tired metatextualism. Things should be taken cum grano salis. Actually, all the authors temporarily regimented under this heading (mainly for the lack of a more convenient one), evince an active curiosity for the relationship between the word and life - a relationship they turn inside out, scrutinizing it from every possible angle. This very penchant for "exploration" is what unites most obviously the "new" poetry and fiction to the Romanian modernist tradition. This is more proof that modernism has not lost its vigour, as John Barth has it, and that the poetry of the 1980s (re)reads the whole modernist tradition simultaneously opening up the pathway for a take-off.

The generation is equally defined by the concept of "literary experiment". However, since there was no critically asserted Romanian experimentalism, no clear assumption of the corresponding parti pris in manifestoes or literary journals, besides a few programmatic statements and very few collections of theoretical articles, no accurate definition of it is possible. Those who succeeded only in aproximating it, yet lacking public perseverance, were the writers themselves swept in by the whirl of the movement: Mircea Nedelciu, Vasile Andru, Norman Manea, Gheorghe Iova, Mircea Cărtărescu, Mircea Horia Simionescu, Alexandru MuÅŸina, Bogdan Ghiu. Not even in their case, at a level of personal, theoretical meditation, shall one discover a running-on coherent concept, but rather a state of mind, the desire to go for and discover new poetic dimensions, with the possible exception of Gheorghe Iova, a remarkable poet, prose-writer and theoretician, the author of a collection of highly personal, difficult theoretical texts, that came out in volume form in 1992 - Texteiova. But the most notable attempt at theoretically circumscribing the concept of experiment, albeit it was described as nothing but a tributary of the avant-garde literature, is Marin Mincu's preface to the 1983 anthology entitled The Romanian Literary Avant-Garde / Avangarda literară românească, in which he sets out to discriminate between avant-gardism and experimentalism. Starting from Umberto Eco's observations, he radically emphasizes the exclusively destructive and demolishing tendency of the avant-garde literature in general, as opposed to the constructive, all the more integrative character of Romanian experimentalism; the idea that the latest wave represented by Mircea Cărtărescu, Florin Iaru, Alexandru MuÅŸina, Ion Stratan, Romulus Bucur is nothing but a "new copy" of the (Romanian) historical avant-gardism seems to Mincu the expression of a highly conservative mentality, ready to reject the anticipatory, differentiating aesthetic elements:

Being, with few exceptions, adamant to theoretical and explanatory revival, our criticism since the beginning of the decade has been outmoded by the dynamics of contemporary literature. It operates with an yet unhistoricized, indeterminate concept of avant-garde, therefore it fails to detect the real features of the last poetic generation, one essentially experimental, because it searches, investigates and takes note of the formative articulations of the work, as it creates it, evincing a fundamental constructive impulse. 60

The critic is thus convinced that experimentalism is the style of our present-day culture, that includes under its ideological span not only the poets of the 1980's, but other poets and prose-writers alike, whose common concern is to find, successfully or not, the textualizing paradigm of the real in a maximally authentic regime.

Along this line, the experimental vocation of the poetry of the 1980's can hardly be restricted to the poets' own linguistic discoveries. There has undoubtedly been a preceding series of technical probings and accumulations on the linguistic and vision level, an "innovating" tradition constantly working on the poets' awareness, particularly one that they have taken over in full responsibility. This tradition goes back to the Dada movement up to the constructivism and surrealism movements, regarded now as natural manifestations that will no longer appear eccentric. Mircea Cărtărescu, Ion Stratan, Traian Coşovei and Florin Iaru, generally speaking, the Bucharest wing of the poetry of the 1980's, will recapture in their poems the associative freedom and syntactical syncopations of Tristan Tzara, Ilarie Voronca, Gherasim Luca, Ion Vinea. Likewise, Urmuz, Ionesco and the young Geo Bogza can be found in the intertext of their poetry. The relationship between poets and the real, concrete world differs in intensity from one poet to another. To Ion Mureşan, for example, the real is an obsession, a "prejudice"; other poets, such as Romulus Bucur and Mariana Marin, do not feel at all attracted towards a meta-discourse on reality, but attempt to express it directly. An ever increasing radicalism of reception, assessment and expression of the real bring about changes at the level of the poetic language, in the case of Caius Dobrescu, Simona Popescu and perhaps Andrei Bodiu. Moreover, when particularly discussing the possibilities of exploration of the poetic language in search of a new "entropic coherence", Simona Popescu asserted that "the most appropriate language would be a transitive, transparent, unmediated, multifunctional one, able to regain its communicative function with moral, psychological and ethical implications at the highest (aesthetic) level of these words ". 61

The change in the reference system of poetic taste has also led to a redimensioning, in an experimental sense, of some autochthonous individual models prior to 1980, e.g. Mircea Ivănescu, Virgil Mazilescu, Daniel Turcea or Anatol E. Baconsky - side by side with Leonid Dimov, Emil Brumaru and Åžerban Foarţă . Worth mentioning is the poetry of Petre Stoica, Vasile Vlad, Constantin Abăluţă, and even Gellu Naum, the practitioner of a sui generis sur-realism within the limits of a highly subjective "textual engineering", to use Mircea Nedelciu's phrase, hardly "out-of-fashion" even nowadays. No approach to the poetry of the 1980s would be complete without the German poets' experimental contribution; the 1982 anthology Moderate to Strong Winds ( Vânt potrivit până la tare) made by Peter Motzan and translated into Romanian by Ioan MuÅŸlea, including names like Richard Wagner, Anemone Latzina, William Totok, Franz Hodjak and Johann Lippet has had an enormous impact on the contemporary poetic search through its language, thematic range and insurgent attitude with obvious anticommunist implications.

The experimental phalanx of the poetry of the 1980s is consistent and diversely mirrored in a number of volumes showing an open concern for the investigation of new experiences and the (re)discovery of fresh poetic moods at a thematic, syntactic and lexical level as in Călin Vlasie's poetic debut volume Spatial Laboratory (Laborator spaÅ£ial, 1984), Liviu Ioan Stoiciu's To the Banner (La fanion, 1980), or Magda Cârneci's Hypermatter (Hipermateria, 1980). Other collections that were aggressively non-conformist in their excessively transitive radicalization of language, such as Ioan Flora's Work Therapy (Terapia muncii, 1981) and The State of Facts (Starea de fapt, 1984) were also published in this decade; worth mentioning here is another group of the so-called "adventurers", on their own or in search for a group, who failed to make their literary debut by 1990 but have published in several students' literary publications and have drawn public attention, like Caius Dobrescu, Andrei Bodiu, Simona Popescu, Marius Oprea, Cristian Popescu, to mention only a few.

All these poetic innovative proposals of the last decade, however bold, are nonetheless considered to be "comfortable" by Gheorghe Crăciun,

They are part of a form of experimentalism without excessive risks. Neither is it very consequential in itself, lacking in fanaticism, and not at all interested in conquering a new and autonomous space for manifestation. To use a good phrase of Vasile Andru's, in this poetry, sensitive to innovation, the integrated experiment is dominant, that is the experiment as a means of perfecting the most efficient poetic technology. Personal production integrates personal research on small spaces, cautious and relatively satisfied with itself, albeit spectacular. 62

as "assimilated change" by Matei Călinescu, who, in his book on the Five Faces of Modernity (Cinci feţe ale modernităţii) claims that far from ever being perceived as an anomaly, as an extension beyond accepted limits, or as a shock, even the most radical experimentalism is, in its turn, assimilated and joins normality. The question remains whether the attractions for artistic experiment are to be forever exhausted by an extreme refinement of expectations, the more so as the modern public can no longer be shocked ?

One of the characteristics of our epoch, highlighted by the public condition of a perpetual avant-garde, is the fact that we started to get used to changes. Even external artistic experiments seem to rouse too little interest or enthiusiasm. The unpredictable has become predictable. Generally speaking, the evr greater rate of change attempts to diminish the relevance of any reliable change. Novelty is no longer novelty. If modernity has orchestrated the appearance of an "aesthetics " of surprise, the present seems to govern its definite failure. Most contemporary art analysts agree that our world is pluralistic, and everything is permitted on principle. 63

But whatever the name attached to the experimentalism of the 1980s, whether "postmodernist" poetry (Nicolae Manolescu) 64 , "new anthropocentrism" (Alexandru MuÅŸina) 65 or "total poetry" (Liviu Ioan Stoiciu), its place is currently gliding somewhere on a purely grammatical hermetic coordinate of the ordinary in an effort to assert itself both as a group and individually, as a true, yet so distinctive a way of charting everyday life.

To some [ the generation of the 60s ], language had direct access to grace, to others [ the generation of the 80s ], it had to be removed from Hell and taken all throughout the Purgatory to attain to paradisaic light. While the energy of some was opening up towards the future, that of others was clinging to the present. Lovers of vision versus victims of meditation. While some are defeated by language, the others are the builders of it. Some got sweet smiles of illusion, some others just a grin of disappointment; to some the poem was a candid, to others just a dirty space. Some had the courage to experience the Eden of language, the others can only get desperate while going through its Hell. 66

The practice of experimentalism is based both on the performance of semantic innovation and on the vividly fragmentary perception in videoclip sequences of immediacy. If one attaches to all this the ludic and ironical, the histrionic by all means demystifying vocation of the poets grouped in the famous 1982 volume Air with Diamonds (Aer cu diamante), then this is clear indication that to them at least, the experiment is more like the framework of an ironically recuperating poetics than that of a prospective plan.

From the very beginning, the conjuncture and especially the ideological pressure of the communist decades drove experimentation to a precise direction and functional specialization. To undermine the formal canons proved a diversion and a resistance strategy in the face of power. Beyond experimental campaigns, the destiny of Romanian poetry was to be synchronized with the spirit of the time in an attempt to assert the awareness of its affiliation to European culture; the pro-Western direction of Romanian poets was reflected mainly in their contact with 20th century great Anglo-American poetry which has constantly shaped anew and refined the forms and structures inherited from the symbolists. Eliot, Pound, Lowell, Cummings, Olson have been carefully read through in an effort to understand and grasp more means of communication besides the already old ones supplied by the dominant trend of the Romanian poetry around 1960; this new focus lent our poetry a new substance imposing at the same time the forms of a new poetic paradigm and the coordinates of a new literary mentality, this time one devoid of inhibition and stripped of ceremonial and metaphysics, one obviously oriented towards everyday normal life, towards biography and direct experience with the page, all in the end amounting to the dramatic consciousness of language risks and opportunities, to the special concern for "form-giving articulations in poetry" that Marin Mincu talks about in his preface to the 1983 anthology.

The acceptance of Ezra Pound into the Romanian literary circuit owed much to the devotion and interest of Mircea Ivănescu, Ion Caraion, Virgil Teodorescu, Vasile Nicolescu etc. who translated his poetry and had to definitely wait until his death in 1972. As early as 1975 these remarkable poets challenged the practice of translation and proposed extraordinarily rich versions which have not only met a widespread cultural need but have gained steadily in technique and range; of all, Mircea Ivănescu's translations from Pound collected in the 1986 anthology of American verse Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (Poezie americană modernă şi contemporană) are unanimously considered to be the most inspired in the Romanian literary circuit and their author by far "the boldest Romanian interpreter of Anglo-American modernity.67

Ezra Pound's influence on Romanian poetry may be thus seen as working along two basic coordinates, on the one hand, on those poet-translators who have found aesthetic self-achievement in Pound's poetry , and on the other, in the direction of a number of poets, most of them belonging to the poetic generation of the 1980s whose only linguistic experiments, if nothing else, feed back on Pound's poetics. The two coordinates, as distinct as they are, are in no polar opposition, but one is ontologically the extension of the other; it is primarily due to those translations, albeit Cărtărescu, Iaru and Stratan had an unmediated contact, that the later poets could come into contact with the modernist Anglo-American spirit, whose glimpses have been "integrated" and counterpointed in the present as well as in the past, by strong manifestations, within the (post) modern trends and side by side with them, of the autochthonous spirit.

Of the first category, Virgil Teodorescu and Mircea Ivănescu seem to have arrived at distinctively inspired versions of Pound's poetry; Teodorescu, a surrealist mostly by deliberately embracing the trend than by his actual vocation, the creator of the so-called newly-devised language of "Leopardă" is essentially a contemplative nature, a delicate spirit rather seraphic than aestheticizing. His creation is stimulated not by deep-going interior agitation, by exasperation and revolt but by the mere pleasure of writing, resorting to both surrealistic and traditional modalities in his maturity work; his translations are modulated to the specific Romanian utterance, and focus less on finding an appropriate matrix than on bringing the emotion into focus.

Ivănescu's poetry grafts bookishness on the background of dull daily life, his poems are those of a dispassionate scholar, of an inhabitant of "the city of books" who sees the world through the lattice of the printed page. His regular device is a parenthetical sophisticated interior monologue, perhaps reminiscent of Joyce's prose, whose novel Ulysses he translated into Romanian in 1984. His collections of poems significantly entitled Lines (Versuri,1968) Further Lines of Poetry, (Alte Versuri, 1972), Poems (Poeme, 1970), Further poems (Alte poeme, 1973), New Poetry (Poeme nouă, 1982), Poems (Poesii, 1971), practise the free verse by simulating rhyme, demolishing the traditional structures in favour of a new poetic matrix. Much as Ion Bogdan Lefter points out,

Mircea Ivănescu's poetry continuously swings between a kind of minimal indoor behaviourism, and the Proustian- type analytical digression imbued with almost non-apparent discreet cultural symbols and references, which- however - give a seductive impression of nostalgic subtlety. Plunging into prose, poetry thus finds new resources of complexity. 68

Critics have sensed in Ivănescu's poetry a Bacovian atmosphere, a presentation of the ordinary much like that of Laforgue's and Marin Sorescu's, a dissimulated precision of construction `a la manie`re de René Char, an admittedly disruptive wording much like that of Cummings and a Joycean phrasing technique, which is indicative of the poet's strong inclination to play as many diverse instruments of producing aesthetic emotion as possible, in an ultimately powerful, by all means particularized poetic experience.

In Traian T. CoÅŸovei's poetry, a fellow poet of the generation, the experimental dimension is subverted by a seemingly Whitmanesque poetic discourse starting with Electric Snowfall (Ninsoarea electrică, 1979), through Air with Diamonds (Aer cu diamante, 1982), Waiting for the Comet (În aÅŸteptarea cometei, 1986) up to the Night Round (Rondul de noapte, 1987). His poetry too, has as source of inspiration the commonplace of everyday occurrence, accepted as such as the natural existential medium fostering happiness, because it provides the framework within which the miracle called life subsists. Sometimes CoÅŸovei transfigures the real up to dematerialization or dissolution, preserving from it only those elements which are permanent and of value to him and which are communicated to the reader in a "contemporary" language; to contemplate the alcohol of the evening up on some restaurant terrace, to admire the girl of one's dreams in a hotel where the ashtrays will puff away steam through their nostrils and where the armchairs will smoke you out silently, is but one chain of such suggestive imagery Gold Chains in the Twilight (LanÅ£uri de aur la ceasul înserării). The ample free verse gives the impression of authenticity through the very simple and ordinary figuration. This blank, unpunctuated syntax characterising his short economic lines conveys an impression of austerity and the suggestion of incompletion arouses in the reader a sense of infinite variety. It is precisely these unexpected imagistic juxtapositions that relate him to Pound; the discarding of rhetorical inessentials can leave the reader clueless in the baffling immediacy, but the substance of his poems, whether formal, informal, expository or lyrical is clear and consistent; the poetic setting gets vastly wider, looser, more flexible and idiosyncratic while CoÅŸovei is soliloquizing and his voice, as in a reverie, changes its tones almost constantly, owing much more, in this key, to Sandburg and William Carlos Williams, to Ion Vinea and Ilarie Voronca. CoÅŸovei, as well as Pound, demands in his poetry a deep inwardness with his world and with himself. Nicolae Manolescu, an influential critic of the generation,hails him

as a highly spontaneous poet, open to various formulas, low spirited under the guise of wit and profound under the guise of playfulness and spark. Upon reading his first lines, I realized he was an accomplished poet; only later did I come to understand that he was writing with relative ease, thanks to his image-engendering fantasy that gave his poems a seemingly clear contour and minuteness. 69

Other insurgent fellow poets uplifted by antimetaphysics or simply sensitive to the poetry of the ordinary within reach, like Ion Stratan, Petru RomoÅŸan, Denisa Comănescu and Alexandru MuÅŸina, will make the most of it in ways that are both ironic and go to nourish their crave for the "poetic real". At the other end of the segment, Ion Bogdan Lefter is playing with the abstract, breathing antimatter side by side with Magdalena Ghica for whom the source of all poetic moods is plain meditation. In her 1980 volume entitled Hypermatter (Hypermateria), the abstract is sliced up into concepts that are all fictitious beings outside of "whom" living can hardly ever be imagined. But in Florin Iaru's volumes Songs for Crossing the Road (Cântece de trecut strada, 1981) and To the Highest Fiction (La cea mai înaltă ficÅ£iune,1984), Pound's technique of total dissimulation through logical incoherence and through a radically delyricized poetic discourse voices feelings of disappointment and alienation, sending his poetry onto another dimension:

So beautiful she was

that the old pensioner

set out to examine the tapestry

of the chair on which she had sat.

In the snowless clean winter,

The dry car was trying to burn her

But she had long descended

When they heard the swallow.

The chewed drivers

cried sprawled on the devoured wheel

for she could no longer be reached.

But she was so beautiful

That even dogs would eat

At the asphalt underneath her feet. 70

In CoÅŸovei's opinion Iaru brings along into contemporary poetry the temptation of invention, of endless discovery, an allusiveness which calls for more and better search beyond his play-on-words, a touch of dynamics of everyday life by virtue of his state of mind irretrievably fragmented and crushed by a relentless wish to talk (read rhetoric). Manolescu senses in his poetry a witty ingeniousness, an irrepressible jocular appetite, but also an uneasiness behind his attractive loquacious and, above all elaborate, poses:

His poetry is the expression of this elaborate ingenuity, in the sense that he internalizes his culture, specific technique and model so well as to make them seem nature, free inventiveness and total originality. Iaru has a discreet elegance of feeling that not only enchants but also vouches for its depth. 71

To sum up, contact with the great British and American poets of our century, with Ezra Pound in particular, who completely re-invented poetic forms and structures, was in these cases a direct one, unmediated by translation, since most of the Romanian poets, Cărtărescu, Ivănescu, Coşovei etc., had good knowledge of English; that is why, this link with foreign poetry is not a literary fashion, it is altogether based on natural similarities emerging, on the one hand, from the new way of understanding poetry and, on the other, from the interpretation and appropriation of Romanian tradition.

I hope to have shown that Pound's poetics are primarily guidelines helping the Romanian poet to find his relationship to the literature of the past and that of his own time; it is a norm of Pound's poetics that such a relationship should be developed in full consciousness and should be based on the assimilated knowledge of the greatest possible number of existing literary forms. It is this knowledge that has enabled the poet to make an adequate choice regarding the form to be used by him; he may make his choice among preestablished "normative" forms, but they are not binding for him in any way; there is no norm prescribing the use of one particular form rather than another or, generally, the use of an existing form. The Romanian poet may, if he feels it imperative, devise a new "organic" form, but this will likely encompass existing forms. In the light of how Romanian poets have therefore encompassed existing forms, both traditional and experimental, in their poetic output, Monica Spiridon sees the very integrative temperate experimentalism:

An examination of Romanian literary experimentalism imposes its rapport with the variables of a cultural climate that has atypical marks. It is mainly about the sharp public sensibility towards the antinomy genuine / artificial or experience / expression; but also a receptive context, both resistant and flexible, in which the pressure of codes and conventions has not for one moment become unbearable. In Romanian literature, experiments have constantly been forced to place themselves between a severe traditionalism and a moderate modernism (whose paradigmatic representative could be Lovinescu). What is the issue? A rather integrating experimental fronde- with too few exceptions - causing impurity at the level of doctrine and fluctuations or hesitations at that of creation. Therefore, a well-moderated experimentalism, rich with undertones and filters, illustrative for a culture where the problem of the rapport between the integration and assimilation of paradigms is always topical. 72

The poetry of the 1980s seems at any rate to have confirmed Pound at least in this employment of experimental techniques, beyond any doubt his poetics enabled these poets to look again with a fresh eye at certain aspects of the language of poetry by virtue of their predecessor's insight into the relation between the language of poetry and the energies and forces which "pulse, dart, flow, uncoil and merge" in the world. Pound did not define this relation carefully, for he was intent mainly on the physical world as something mechanical, and also on proving a theory; but there are precious insights - old problems perceived from a new angle - for any poet who is willing to look for them.

I believe that poets of the class in which Pound shines are of an absolute preliminary necessity for the continuing life of poetry. What he meant by composition in the sequence of the musical phrase and by the pure tradition in verse, all wrapped up in new experimentally "organic" forms, as he taught them in his criticism and as he exhibited them in his translations and original verses, was not only necessary in 1912 or 1918, but was found to be necessary in the 1980's , is still necessary now and has always been necessary if the work done by man's mind in verse is not to ever fall off and forget its possibilities.

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