Mary CRESSWELL: Poetical Bridges – Poduri Lirice

In this book, Valentina Teclici has assembled, edited and translated three poems each from 12 Romanian and 12 New Zealand poets. This first volume of Poetical Bridges – PoduriLirice is published in New Zealand and printed in Romania; it has been reviewed (in print and on the radio) in Greece, Australia and Canada, as well as in its two parent countries. The Romanian/New Zealand community numbers several thousand people, and – in a country that professes support for community languages – bilingual publishing should be supported wherever it exists or is trying to exist.

So, about the poems. As far as the translations go, I can’t comment. Certainly the translator has matched lines, structures, and rhyme patterns, but it’s for more educated reviewers than I am to judge. It looks like an amazing job, not least in that the poems are presented in such as way that no one language looks like the dominant one.

The content, however, is a different matter entirely – I had a lot of surprises and learned a lot, always a good thing. First of all, the scenery. I have been many years in New Zealand and had stopped noticing how pervasive the landscape is in poetry. Nature is out there all over the show, and there is no getting away from her. Ever.

Reading the Romanian selections is a reminder that the world contains buildings, cities, skies:

 For a while I feel my wings growing

And I try them out – as a young lark,

Stolen by misunderstood bravery,

That bolts him into an unnatural sky.

 I am distancing myself from people, rising vertically

Towards a shore of infinite joy …  (‘“The Burden” of Today’s World …”, Tudor Opriş, p 23).


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