Join us for poetry reading and discussion with poet Claudia Serea about her latest book “Writing on the Walls at Night”
Guest speakers: Clara Burghelea and Adina Dabija
Moderator: Otilia Baraboi
In this new collection of prose poems, Claudia Serea uses surrealism, irony, and black humor to express her experiences, from growing up behind the Iron Curtain to immigrating to New York City. The first section of the book, “There Were No Magic Beans,” recalls her childhood in Romania under Nicolae Ceaușescu’s rule, a world in which terror mixes with fairy tales, nightmares, and dreams. The second section, “The Keepers of Moon Keys,” introduces a cast of peculiar characters, including folk tale protagonists, witches, ghosts, a collector of clouds, a bone music maker, a man who paints the time, and the Lord of Meanwhile. In “Dark Calligraphy,” the poet conjures history, remembering war and oppression through the eyes of a child. The reader is guided by a little girl and a museum custodian through the great traumas of recent history. In the last section of the book, “The Russian Hat,” Serea transports the reader into a metropolis as strange as the past she carries with her, to the “museum of our lives,” where “we are the curators, the visitors, and the paintings that paint themselves.” This astonishing place vaguely resembles New York City distorted by memories and dreams, but it might as well be Las Vegas where “what happens in the poem stays in the poem.” In this collection, Serea’s readers win “pound after pound of shiny poems,” the magical beans they will use to escape again and again, discovering hidden meanings with surprise and delight in each new reading.
Event organized by ARCS in partnership with Arizona American-Romanian Cultural Collaborative (ARCC), Immigration Research Forum, Bucharest Inside the Beltway, and Romanians of DC, with the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute in NY/USA
Claudia Serea’s poems and translations have been published in Field, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, The Malahat Review, The Puritan, Oxford Poetry, Asymptote, and elsewhere. She is the author of six poetry collections and four chapbooks, most recently Writing on the Walls at Night (Unsolicited Press, 2022). Serea’s poem My Father’s Quiet Friends in Prison, 1958-1962 received the New Letters Readers Award, and she was featured in the documentary Poetry of Witness (2015). Serea’s poems have been translated in French, Italian, Russian, Arabic, and Farsi, and have been featured in The Writer’s Almanac, as well as in several international festivals and anthologies. Her collection of selected poems translated into Arabic, Tonight I’ll Become a Lake into which You’ll Sink, was published in Cairo, Egypt, in 2021. Serea is a founding editor of National Translation Month, and she co-hosts The Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Readings in Rutherford, NJ.
Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet with an MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, Waxwing, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere. Her second poetry collection, Praise the Unburied, was published with Chaffinch Press in 2021. She is Poetry Co-Editor of the museum of americana and Review Editor of Ezra, An Online Journal of Translation.
Adina Dabija is a writer and philosopher born in Aiud, Romania. She now lives in New York, where she practices acupuncture and hypnosis. Her first book, poezia-papusa, was awarded the Bucharest Writers’ Association Guild Prize in 1998. She published Stare nediferentiata in 2010 for which she was awarded Tomis prize in Constanta, Romania. In 2011 she published Beautybeast (North Shore Press), her first collection of poetry translated into English by Claudia Serea, and in 2012 her first novel, Saman (Ed. Polirom). Adina is currently working on four books: Songs from My Garden, a poetry collection, Nine Seeds for Life, a practical self-help book which combines narrative medicine from her native Romania with gardening and bio cognition for anyone suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder, Rumi’s Field, a novel on the mystical relationship between Rumi, the 12th century Sufi poet, and his spiritual companion Shams al Tabriz, and Wise and Wild in America, a book of interviews with exponents of the traditional American values such as self-reliance, individual freedom and equality of opportunity to inspire the young generations. Some of her recent writings and interviews can be found at www.sol.center