Ana Blandiana is one of Romania’s foremost poets, a leading dissident before the fall of Communism, and now her country’s strongest candidate for the Nobel Prize. A prominent opponent of the Ceausescu regime, Blandiana became known for her daring, outspoken poems as well as for her courageous defence of ethical values. Over the years, her works have become the symbol of an ethical consciousness that refuses to be silenced by a totalitarian government.
Blandiana redefines her poetics in every new book of poetry she publishes. My Native Land A4 is her most recent collection. In it she recreates a land of words, water, trees, cities with abandoned churches, fallen angels that cannot find their way back to heaven, and gods that learn to roller-skate to try to reach the young who remain oblivious of their existence. She projects visionary spaces within the confines of a page – the A4 sheet of her title – which emerge out of her imagination as anguished territories in which the lyrical ‘I’ is compelled to draw precise, clear boundaries out of a diffuse magma of words.
The poems articulate a quest for love, beauty and truth and affirm an urgent need for existential authenticity as a requisite for the redemption of the self, chronicling the struggle between a constantly deteriorating body that is learning how to die and the spirit that strives to overcome its physical constraints. My Native Land A4 contains meditations on fundamental themes such as the fragility and vulnerability of being, the inexorable toll of time, the limitations of the human condition and the correspondence between life and death within the cosmic rhythms of the universe.
'The blank page... stands as a perennial reminder of how freedom emerges even within repression... I am most moved in her book by the delicacy and scope realized time after time by her profoundly analogical imagination.' - Charles Altieri, Chicago Review
The print edition of My Native Land A4 only includes the English translations. The e-book with audio is a bilingual Romanian-English edition with most of the poems read in Romanian by Ana Blandiana.
Ana Blandiana: My Native Land A4
When Ana Blandiana was in London in 2014 for Poetry International at the Southbank Centre, the Romanian Cultural Institute kindly offered the use of a function room for us to ﬁlm Ana Blandiana reading from My Native Land A4 with Viorica Patea. The excerpt from that reading shown in the ﬁlm ends with a virtuoso performance by poet and translator of the poem which gives the book its title, ‘Country of Unease’ (‘Patria neliniştii’) read simultaneously in both languages. Ana Blandiana returned to London in 2015 to give a public reading from the book in the same room at the Institute. Before that they read three other poems: ‘Prayer’ (‘Rugăciune’), ‘Above the River’ (‘Deasupra râului’) and ‘A Transparent Being’ (‘Un personaj transparent’). This ﬁlm is one of 60 videos included in the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed and edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, May 2017).