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Ana Blandiana

Five Books

Ana Blandiana


Publication Date : 11 Nov 2021

ISBN: 9781780375380

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

Ana Blandiana is one of Romania’s foremost poets, a leading dissident before the fall of Communism, and now one of her country’s strongest candidates for the Nobel Prize. A prominent opponent of the Ceaușescu 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. This new translation combines five collections, three of protest poems from the 1980s followed by her two collections of love poetry. The book also includes four poems published in the journal Amfiteatru in 1984 – which also appeared in The Independent in the UK – which brought about her second publication ban in Romania under Ceaușescu. 

The Amfiteatru poems marked a turning point and radicalisation of her lyrics, as well as of Romanian poetry in general. These poems and those of Predator Star (1985) and The Architecture of Waves (1990) chronicle a convulsed history and pose the question of how to resist the terror of history. The poet’s personal destiny ceases to be a concern, while collective history becomes her obsession. The Architecture of Waves was the last book she wrote under Ceaușescu’s dictatorship and the first to escape censorship. It continues the themes of the poems of Amfiteatru, analysing national history and national identity in the light of historical symbols, myths and the folklore of Romanian literature such as the ballad 'Miorița' and 'The Master Manole'.

Clock without Hours (2014) brings together postmodern postulations and a simplicity that surpasses literary currents. Stylistically the volume marks a return to rhyme, as Blandiana attempts a courageous renovation of traditional verse forms. Her fiercely militant voice, that more or less inaugurated the postmodern idiom in Romanian poetry in 1984, has modulated over time into a new tone of forgiveness and renunciation, expressed in meditations on the fragility and vulnerability of being. The poems in Clock without Hours decry impersonal human communications via Facebook "likes", and the sense of alienation and depersonalisation of human beings in our time. This is a book about Time with a capital T, concerned with death, salvation, and escape from materiality. Blandiana reflects on the twilight of the spirit, the accelerated erosion of matter, and the evanescence of being.

A prolific and expansive poet, Ana Blandiana constantly re-invents herself. She has distinguished herself not only by her subversive poems of protest with a political bent, poems that speak from the heart of the Romanian people about their suffering and lack of freedom, but also as a poet who addresses life at the millennium. Her work ultimately reflects on universal issues, on human existence itself in our 21st-century consumer society. Yet finally, despite her inimitable public sensibility, her most characteristic, moving, and enduring voice resonates in her poems immersed in the mysticism of love, poems which are included in this volume.

Blandiana has also written two collections of love poems which rank among the most beautiful in contemporary Romanian poetry – October, November, December (1972) and Variations on a Given Theme (2018) – the second of these composed after the death of her husband, Romulus Rusan, in 2016. Like Verlaine, who aspired to pure poetry, and Mallarmé, who sought the supreme idea, Blandiana in her love poetry continues to explore the mystery of articulating the language of the inexpressible. October, November, December depicts love as both a state of mystical delirium and a reflection of the mysterious process of poetic creation itself. Variations on a Given Theme (2018) is an elegy that renews the genre. Both engage in dialogue across time.

'The Romanian Ana Blandiana is one of Europe’s greatest living poets, and she’s well served by this substantial volume containing five previously untranslated collections. Ranging across her writing life, they create a layered portrait of a complex yet consistent poetic identity.' - Fiona Sampson, The Guardian, on Five Books

'... one of Europe's most important living poets.  Blandiana is not concerned with elegant artifice. Her poems are mostly short in line and in length. And the voice, one of the most remarkable features of her work, is simple, calm and intimate... Yet that voice is capable of suprising and resonant shifts of focus that at times produce brilliant perspectives on her political situation, on her efforts to understand what connections are possible to spiritual forces, and late in her career on the various ways love can pervade life.' - Charles Altieri, The London Magazine, on Five Books

'This is writing from the front line, visceral and powerful... while the poetry in the later books is more lyrical and reflective, celebrating ''freedom andsolidarity'. An invaluable resource for the library to supplement history and politics courses with poetry written in extremis.' - Frank Startup, The School Librarian, on Five Books

‘Blandiana is, without doubt, one of the most important poets in Europe. So far, she has published sixteen volumes of poetry and several other books. Five Books is her fourth volume in English, and, as the title suggests, consists of five collections… I admire the decision to put together sets of poems that are so different in character: the political ones, which – by their very nature – are more public, louder, outspoken, sitting right next to the meditative, very private, intimate even, love poetry. This creates a refreshing, contrasted image of the poet within one book.’ – Anna Blasiak, European Literature Network

‘In the tradition of Anna Akhmatova and Václav Havel, Blandiana bears witness to eastern European history while also offering visionary and meditative verse in the spirit of Emily Dickinson and Rainer Maria Rilke... Thanks to Derrick and Patea’s faithful rendering of Blandiana’s formal innovations in light of the poems’ evolving context, Five Books will ensure Blandiana’s legacy as a poet with international significance.’ - J. Rhett Forman, World Literature Today

'Blandiana is a pure lyricist, focused entirely on the event of how imagination finds words and rhythms that make certain mental experiences memorable. Her poems characteristically achieve strange precisions by having pervasive metaphors unfold her sense of "sacred void" as negative plenitude.' – Charles Altieri, UC at Berkeley


Ana Blandiana: Launch reading for Five Books

Ana Blandiana was joined by her translators Paul Scott Derrick and Viorica Patea in this online launch event in November 2021. Her beautiful readings of the poems in Romanian (followed by her translators reading the poems in English) were counterpointed by fascinating discussions between her and the translators about the book and the background to the poems.

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).


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BOOKS BY Ana Blandiana

My Native Land A4

Ana Blandiana

My Native Land A4

Publication Date : 29 May 2014

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The Sun of Hereafter • Ebb of the Senses

Ana Blandiana

The Sun of Hereafter • Ebb of the Senses

Publication Date : 16 Nov 2017

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Launch reading by Ana Blandiana with her translators Paul Scott Derrick and Viorica Patea

Launch reading by Ana Blandiana with her translators Paul Scott Derrick and Viorica Patea

International dual language launch reading by Ana Blandiana with her translators Paul Scott Derrick and Viorica Patea celebrating the publication of Five Books.

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