Tag Archives: Insomnia in Flowers

Stella Vinitchi Radulescu

Translator’s Note on Stella Vinitchi Radulescu:

Stella R.Stella Vinitchi Radulescu was born in Romania in 1946, and left the country permanently in 1983 at the height of Ceausescu’s communist regime. After seeking political asylum in Rome, she immigrated to the U.S. She received an M.A. in French from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Philology from the University of Bucharest. Since 1989, she has taught French, first at Loyola University, then at Northwestern University

Radulescu began writing poetry in Romanian at an early age, and published several collections in Romania. As she puts it, “Writing poetry was risky—it could have been ‘a political manifesto’ against the regime!—but it was also a refuge.” She faced a crisis of sorts when she left Romania, because she was uncertain how to continue writing in a new language. However, she enjoyed discovering other dimensions of expression through writing in English. She attributes part of her success in this area to her study of philology. She also began to write in French, which was always “la langue de la poésie” for her. She points to the fact that Samuel Beckett wanted to write deliberately in French, and asserts that “there is always something mysterious about the language.”

For Radulescu, it is difficult to translate her own poems. As she puts it, “I feel, think, act, perceive, smell, touch differently according to the language I write in.” She has been kind enough to allow me to begin translating her French poetry, and I gratefully acknowledge her partnership in finalizing these translations. These poems are from her collection, Un cri dans la neige [A Cry in the Snow], which was awarded the le Grand Prix de Poésie “Henri-Nöel Villard” and published by Éditions du Cygne in 2009.

In addition to publishing books of poetry in Romanian and French, Radulescu has published five books of poetry in English, including All Seeds & Blues (WordTech, 2011), Insomnia in Flowers (Plain View Press, 2008), Diving with the Whales (March Street Press, 2008), and Self Portrait in Blue (March Street Press, 2004).

 

Luke H.Luke Hankins (translator) is the author of a collection of poems, Weak Devotions (Wipf & Stock, 2011), and is the editor of Poems of Devotion: An Anthology of Recent Poets (Wipf & Stock, 2012). A chapbook of his translations of French poems by Radulescu, I Was Afraid of Vowels…Their Paleness, was published by Q Avenue Press in 2011. His poems, essays, and translations have appeared in numerous publications, including American Literary ReviewNew England ReviewPoetry East, and The Writer’s Chronicle. He is Senior Editor at Asheville Poetry Review.

 

 

the earth begins

the earth begins one distant afternoon
with the breast’s
ochre color
the transparent milk that flows and the mouth
that takes pleasure in it

with the memory of another land
which has just left us

the fear of losing that land     the breast withdrawn
the milk dried up

look—the earth is beginning
today
and ends with me as I wait     you’d call it
a withered place

pinched between two fingers of silence

 

la terre commence  

la terre commence un après-midi lointain
avec la couleur ocre
du sein
le lait qui coule transparent et la bouche
qui s’y plaît

avec le souvenir d’une autre terre qui vient
de nous quitter

la peur de la perdre le sein qui se retire
le lait qui tarit

la terre commence, voilà
aujourd’hui
et finit avec moi qui attends        on dirait là
un endroit rétréci

tassé entre deux doigts de silence