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William James Austin: Mirela Roznoveanu’s poetry is innovative where it counts, I think the imagery is really stunning. I can’t imagine anyone with any sensitivity reading her work, and not experiencing a strong emotional response.
Elizabeth Gamble Miller: What I find fascinating are the startling images gleaned from such a breadth of human experience. The poetry is of such depth and complexity while not in the least hermetic. It is as if the image is the precise one to stir the conflicting emotions that permeate the poems. Mirela Roznoveanu s world travels and breadth of literary experience carry a resonance that inspires further exploration into the poetic line. Without actually reading the Romanian I find the reading of her poetry and of Heathrow O Hare’s translations as seamless. This is quite a remarkable accomplishment
.

Editorial Review
Mirela Roznoveanu is a native of Romania who immigrated to the United States in 1991. She was a noted dissident journalist during the turbulent period of the late eighties. Her literary works in Romanian include four novels, six volumes of critical essays, and a poetry book. She has published in English a book of poems, Born Again in Exile, a collection of novellas, The Life Manager and Other Stories, and literary criticism. Mirela Roznoveanu is a member of the faculty of New York University s School of Law. It has been said that Mirela Roznoveanu s writing changed greatly after her leaving Romania. Today, one would not agree with this statement any more. Mirela was always a writer pursuing her way to perfection and artistic development. These trends could be seen from her earlier works, such as her manifesto of her Romanian debut volume in Romania, Lecturi Moderne (Modern Readings, 1978). Mirela is among those writers and critics who have sought over recent years to turn the energy of their native cultures into a complex aesthetic with significant moral and political connotations.

Commentary  by Terry Hegarty

While reading Elegies from New York City I have paid attention to the note that indicates which poems are translated and which were written in English. I think Mirela is now probably that rare thing a bilingual poet. Her English idiom has blossomed splendidly-a strange and beautiful flower with roots that seem to go almost to Indo-European, yet with the rich vocabulary and cadence that NYC (as well as her scholarship) gives to a true listener. 

 It seems to me too that Mirelas world-view is deepening-or perhaps that is an insensitive word, ‘widening’ is perhaps better, to assimilate her North American experience. I am thinking particularly of ‘Continuum’ (though I know this is translated), ‘In the Amethyst Cave,’ and the long ‘
New York
‘-the latter two capturing (in my hearing) a certain essence in

US

life that is hidden to most Americans. ‘On the Conversion of Beast to Human" with its chilling last lines intensifies this feeling for me. In a less political but equally powerful mythic way I admire ‘The Stagecoach Driver’ and ‘The Phoenix Ashes,’ with their huge timeless evocations of legends and landscapes that our more popular culture reserves for very limited historical purposes. And the description of baseball in ‘The Baseball Field’ (so un-American!) resonates strongly for me and charms me.

 The personal voice is terribly human, with a sadness and sometimes desperation that any honest caring human will recognize instantly. I find it deeply comforting. My only fear is that people (especially in the

US

) routinely reject this kind of truth, they have been indoctrinated to feel ‘happiness’ at all costs, despite the misery of their lives. But I do agree with the blurb on the back cover that says ‘I can’t imagine anyone with any sensitivity reading her work, and not experiencing a strong emotional response.’

The great elusive human questions never leave Mirela Roznoveanu.

Terry Hegarty

Terry Hegarty is an editor and musician based in

Boston
,
MA.

  
Commentary  by Ana R. Chelariu       

       

               Soon after I set foot on this land, I was taken by an American friend to the airport. We were very late and rushing through a mass of people humming into my ears the music of an unknown language. I told my friend "I lost the plane." "No, she said, you can’t lose a plane, you miss a plane." Clunk! What? This word belongs to a different part of the heart, ‘I miss you, dear, I miss you so much’. How could they use the same word for an airplane?

                 Such is our experience with language when coming here. We arrive locked within the walls of our own mental structures plowed by time in our souls, our background culture. But outside it rains with words, words, expressions, nouns, verbs, and uh, prepositions, drops that slide on the windows of our mind. We watch them sliding down, study their movement, feel them on our tongues. We even dare to step out, only to see how they wash off us as if we are covered in oil. Some do stick to our body, ‘ouch’, ‘street’, ‘light’, some we cling on, as they resonate so close to our own, intellectual, university, literature, emotion, poetry. After a long battle we learn the meaning of ‘struggle’, "In the gods’ privileged temporal continuum." [page 20] 
                 But cheer up, some of us have the courage to step out in the rain, and let the words pour over their soul, reaching deep into the unfamiliar structure, playing with these unknown melodies, dancing along in the new music and feelings: "through inner narcosis." [p.11] The poet bursts into words, hot drops flooding our hearts: "Biology is overwhelming the spirit," [p.11] or, "I have gloriously survived another winter. Desperations bloom again in May," [p.14] and, "There is a winner, yet I can’t discover who. My American life." [p.16] 
                 We are soaked in the delicate substances of loneliness through powerful images: "I am a black bird dwelling in this lofty tree hollow/The tree is my love as I am his./Divided by the different planes of existence. We are unable to share a lot/Yet, I am happy to sleep in his arms." [p. 17] It is a voluntary loneliness: "One day I closed my ears tight, my eyes, the pores of my skin – living out my lot inside Skylla and Charybdis’s camp and I saw my crucified mind!" [p.27] 
                But our past structures are lurking behind, letting the poet feel guilty when forgetting the ‘mother tongue intoxicated by witches songs," because here in the new land "feelings are allowed only when they reach the lowest heating threshold" [p. 30], and "She is a silly Romanian enthusiast", yes, incorrigibly enthusiast, incorrigibly Romanian. How well we see ourselves in these foreign words as the poet dares to speak in our name. Fascinated and hooked into her web we follow her, showered in her poetical frankness: "You must be really happy to be here", she is told, "It is the perfect city on earth," where "There is greater loneliness.than in the jungle" because "Life is so private/ nobody asks anything", "Caller ID’s protect everybody from one another." [p. 34]  "It is called the Big Apple/with some likely connotations from the forbidden Apple of seduction as well./I see it as an iron sphere, hungry iron Apple of seduction" fed each morning with  "the fresh essences of life." [p. 40] 
                 As she leads us through her many emotional meanders she doesn’t hide anything , offering us direct access to her experiences. She takes us through "Mirela’s home", where "an invisible sacred fire/is burning", along the path of "the most beautiful and strange map: Mirela’s sole," [p. 43] a daring play with words. We are even told in a methodical way as if trying to catch the eternity: "Mirela is a person’s name" and "poetry is her realm." [p.96]
  
            And we are grateful for that. 
  
             Mi Re La, a chant that resonates with us as a prolonged vibration through the crackling silence of a morning in March.  
 Ana R. Chelariu 
 February 2008 
 
 Ana R. Chelariu is the author of  "The Metaphor of Metaphor", a study in comparative
mythology, Cartea Romaneasca Publishing House, Bucharest, 2003.

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