Ana Blandiana, Romania. transl: Joanna Kornaś-Warwas
2016: Ana Blandiana
Ana Blandiana represents the archetype of the writer whose life and work have become an image of the fate of the collective. She belongs to that group of writers who put themselves in the role of witnesses of their times; in poetry she seeks her poetic identity, as well as an expression for truth and justice. Her writing is a form of resistance against the lack of meaning in the surrounding world and against all mechanisms that systematically enslave and annihilate the individual. The poet asks about the limits of freedom in the face of various kinds of violence and enslavement. The title My Homeland is the country in which Blandiana lives as a poet, it is a sheet of paper (understood in the standard A4 format) that she has in front of her at the moment of writing. It is also the Homeland of Unrest – the title of the volume’s closing poem – a space in which she expresses not only her admiration for the beauty of the world, conducting an intimate dialogue with the “Author of this merciless perfection,” but also her anxieties and fears about the human condition, while searching for existential balance.
Ana Blandiana (real name Otilia Valeria Coman Rusan) is a poet, essayist, translator and social activist. Born in 1942 in Timişoara, she debuted in 1959 in Tribuna daily. In 1967, she completed philological studies at Cluj University. Before the 1989 revolution, she was a renowned dissident and human rights defender. Blandiana dared to personally defy Ceauşescu in her public statements and interviews given to Radio Free Europe and foreign press. Together with Romulus Rusan, she initiated and created Memorialul Victimelor Comunismului şi al Rezistenţei, a museum commemorating the victims of communism, established in Sighet under the auspices of the Council of Europe. The institution boasts a research centre that organizes annual conferences, scientific sessions and exhibitions on totalitarian systems.
Blandiana wrote 25 poetry volumes. Her poems address existential, spiritual and sensual matters, not shying away from social and political commentary on women’s issues. Apart from poetry, Blandiana has published several novels and volumes of political and social critiques. Her works have been translated into at least 24 languages, making her the most recognizable ambassador of Romanian literature worldwide.
photo: Bogna Kociumbas
Joanna Kornaś-Warwas is a translator and teacher of Romanian. She translates prose, poetry, and theatre plays. Kornaś-Warwas debuted with Mircea Cărtărescu’s Travesti (Wydawnictwo Czarne, Wołowiec 2007). The translation was acknowledged by Ireneusz Kania, who described the book as a “beautiful novel, brilliantly written and delightfully translated by the young translator”. Thanks to Kornaś-Warwas, Polish readers could familiarize themselves with the most eminent Romanian writers, such as Max Blecher, Mircea Cărtărescu, Dan Lungu, Ioan Es. Pop, and Varujan Vosganian. In 2010, her translation of Dan Lungu’s I’m an Old Commie! was shortlisted for the “Angelus” Central European Literary Award.