Poetry. Translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Diana Manole. "i'm sam," begins the first poem of Nora Iuga's THE HUNCHBACKS' BUS (AUTOBUZUL CU COCOŞAŢI). The book is a sort of family chronicle centered on the imaginary character sam and his life, much of which is in his head, his not very faithful wife minodora, his brother istovitu (the name means exhausted, worn-out). It's comic, though not often in a laugh-out-loud kind of way; surreal or fantastic at not a few moments, at others ribald, eccentric; perhaps even a little hard to cozy up to, since Iuga keeps everything at an ironic distance. Her style is rarely lyrical in a traditional sense. The syntax is direct but the imagery teases and surprises; the poetic voice is energetic, even audacious, with a delightful quirkiness. In the first of five authorial interludes, short monologues in prose, Iuga addresses the reader, "you might find it hard to believe, but sam actually exists" (notwithstanding the fact that he's sometimes presented as a dog); and Iuga notes otherwise in "sam is an angel": "i'm still determined to find out who / sam is and what he does with his little stick... / i'm the most helpless text / in this city." Iuga's world may at times be one of loss, worry, proverbially a dog's life, but it spins away with exhilarating dreamlike absurdity. Adam J. Sorkin, the translator of more than fifty books of contemporary Romanian poetry, has won the 2005 Poetry Society (U.K.) Prize for European Poetry Translation as well as the International Quarterly Crossing Boundaries Award, the Kenneth Rexroth Memorial Translation Prize, the Ioan Flora Prize for Poetry Translation, and the Poesis Translation Prize, among others. His work has been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, The Academy of American Poets, The Witter Bynner Foundation, the Arts Council of England and the Romanian Cultural Institute. Sorkin's recent publications include A Sharp Double-Edged Luxury Object by Rodica Draghincescu (translated with Antuza Genescu, Červená Barva Press, 2014); Gold and Ivy / Aur şi iederǎ by George Vulturescu (translated with Olimpia Iacob, Eikon, 2014); The Starry Womb by Mihail Gǎlǎţanu (translated with Petru Iamandi and Gǎlǎţanu, Diálogos Books, 2014); and The Book of Anger by Marta Petreu (translated with Christina Zarifopol-Illias and Liviu Bleoca, Diálogos Books, 2014). B & W by Diana Manole (co-translated with the author) came out from Tracus Arte in Bucharest, 2015. Forthcoming are Syllables of Flesh by Floarea Ţuţuianu (translated with Irma Giannetti) from Plamen Press, and the book-length poem Eclogue by Ioana Ieronim (co-translated with Ieronim) from Červená Barva. Sorkin is Distinguished Professor of English, Penn State Brandywine. Diana Manole was born in Romania and currently lives in Toronto, Canada. A writer, translator, freelance journalist and scholar, she made her editorial debut with Men and Women: 29 in Alphabetical Order (Phoenix, 1996), followed by five more collections, including Evening Habits (Eminescu, 1998, Bucharest Writers' Union Award) and (Landed) Immigrant Angel (Brumar, 2011), as well as four award-winning plays, among them The Child Who Didn't Want to Be Born (Cartea Româneascǎ, 1999, Romanian Writers' Best Debut in Drama). Her poetry (translated from Romanian with Adam J. Sorkin or written in English) has appeared in The Nashwaak Review, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Untethered, Event and Grain in Canada; Poem in the U.K.; Prufrock in South Africa; and The Lunch Ticket, Third Wednesday, Absinthe: A Journal of World Literature in Translation, Cutthroat and The Chattahoochee Review (nominated for a Pushcart Prize) in the U.S. Manole has published widely in Romanian literary magazines. In September 2016, one of her poems from B & W was featured on the Parliament of Canada's website as Poem of the Month.
One of the most important, productive and original Romanian writers and translators, Nora Iuga was born on 4 January 1931 and published her first collection of poems, It Isn't My Fault (Vina nu e a mea) in 1968. Two years later The Captivity of the Circle (Captivitatea cercului) followed. Soon, however, accused of disseminating "morbid eroticism" that would have a dangerous influence on the younger generation, Iuga was banned by the communist censors from publishing fiction and poetry; her books were also withdrawn from public libraries and bookstores. This interdiction lasted until 1978, a forced eight-year hiatus that almost ended an important literary career which has now flourished for nearly five decades. Since then, she has published thirteen more poetry collections, ranging from Opinions on Pain (Opinii despre durere, 1980, the Writers' Union Prize winner) to, most recently, The Wet Dog Is a Willow Tree (Cîinele ud e o salcie, 2013) and Listen to the Parentheses Cry (Ascultǎ cum plâng parantezele, 2016). THE HUNCHBACKS' BUS (AUTOBUZUL CU COCOŞAŢI) first appeared in 2001 and was reprinted in a second edition in 2010. Among her eight books of prose are Leopold Bloom's Soap (Sǎpunul lui Leopold Bloom, 1993, the Writers' Union Prize winner), The Sixty-Year-Old Woman and the Young Man (Sexagenara şi tînǎrul, 2000, again the Writers' Union Prize winner), and her fifth and most recent novel, Harald and the Green Moon (Harald şi luna verde, 2014). As a translator, Iuga has published 33 books mainly of German-language authors, among them E.T.A. Hoffmann, Friedrich Nietzsche, Elfriede Jelinek, Günter Grass, Paul Celan, Michael Ende and Herta Müller. In addition to the "lifetime translation achievement award" granted by the Romanian Writers' Union, Iuga earned in 2007 the Friedrich-Gundolf prize of the German Academy for Language and Poetry, for exceptiAuthor City: BUCHAREST ROM