Introductions for Ruxandra Cesereanu & Andrei Codrescu – 15 April 09

Ruxandra Cesereanu is one of Romania’s best-known poets, the author, among other books, of The Garden of Delights, Live Zone, Venice with Violet Veins and The Crusader Woman published by Black Widow Press in 2008, translated by the poet with Adam Sorkin and others. She also wrote a book-length collaborative poem called Forgiven Submarine with Andrei Codrescu, also published by Black Widow. They will read from this poem tonight. She has written books on politics and art, and is a powerful commentator on her daily blog, “mesmeea”. Ruxandra lives in Cluj, Transylvania, Romania, and is a professor at the Center for Imagination Studies at Babes-Bolyai University.

Before I read Cesereanu’s work I had it in my head that in addition to being a poet she is also a historian of political violence and the gulag, which definitely provided a lens for me to understand her poetry where no body is safe but more personal agency is gained via escape by animal body – feline in this case. In her essay “Delirionism or a Concentrated Textbook on How Not to Stay Stuck in Reality” she writes about Jung’s concept of inflation as “an extension of the personality beyond individual limits, through the aberrant, exaggerated, sometimes grotesque identification with various archetypes. Jung does not focus on the idea of censorship and brutal cut, but on that of hypertrophy of the personality.” Her poetry, through the development of her own idea of delirionism is interested in the brutal cut or cleavage and how to connect these hollows region by region. Please welcome Ruxandra to the Poetry Project.

Essayist, filmmaker, poet, novelist, professor, editor and radio commentator Andrei Codrescu is the author of nearly 30 books. Most recent titles are Jealous Witness: New Poems (Coffee House Press, with a CD by the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars) and The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess, just published by Princeton University Press. Andrei is a commentator on NPR and edits Exquisite Corpse, online at He lives in New Orleans and the Ozarks.

A recent interviewer asked Codrescu about his prolificacy, to which he responded, essentially, “It’s just working.” His work in a variety of mediums articulates the zeitgeist of our times fulfilling what Lennon (that’s L-E-N-N-O-N) defined as the poet’s role in society – not to lead but to feel and to be a reflection of us all. His poems as witness to urban and sociopolitical catastrophe post-Katrina emphasize public landscape as strange locale, how easily the familiar can become estranged. Ironically more than a modicum of intimacy and poetic lightening was created via email with the collaborative composition of Forgiven Submarine – a poem as event, hosted by 2 poets – both fantasia and “just working”. It’s a pleasure to have Andrei back at the Poetry Project.