Marius Surleac and Diana Iepure: Contemporary Romanian Poetry

Today we offer a sampling of new contemporary Romanian poetry. For this post, Marius Surleac translated his own poems in English, and also poems by Diana Iepure. Enjoy!

—Claudia Serea & Loren Kleinman


Marius Surleac, Romanian poet and translator


I will not touch the envelope from the mail box
on it the maggots sleep like in an oven
coated by a chitinous peel

I use soap & gloves with French chalk
sometimes tweezers & safety masks when it’s windy

even so I will try to discern the stamps
carved in dry bricky ink

& I will imagine what it’s like to travel
faster than light in the vacuum dreamed
between us

Jack, I will always know
that you are guilty


it’s been raining ceaseless for some days without sun
and sheer sounds born in the black sidewalks
I tardily smell the fallen dead animals
in a finite race on the road
when in the eyes
cans of rust, non-resident thoughts
& two quadrants, one faster than the other,
were warmly ignited

mountains & hot springs
biramous paths & fir tops
are growing through the pores
& then I feel how my back burns harsher
recently wings grow on my back & shinny claws
pierce through the brogan


today is the day when Jack is away
like a net the nothingness grips him dreamily
took him through the drops that forgot again
to turn the other side already
hard in the abyss


in the last night two fists knocked in the pane
clenched for a second
that lasted until today


today I went fishing with Jack on sky’s lake
we were fishing stars, comets  and other meteoric wonders
that were wolfishly swallowing, with a fantastic speed
the vacuum bait contained by a black hole

we were laying down, lolling our back on the exosphere
felt a bit cold, so we stole some
of the fiery blankets to muffle our dorsum

we lighted up a pipe, sighed in an echo
& caught on the hop how the sun was peeing
on the milky way’s eye like after a proton boozing

we were benighted, or at least the hour
that took its place reached us, we got stoned
and finally decided to take part
at the Bradbury’s million-year picnic

when we reached the groove
you could hardly see two faces
beneath the reddish sand

we sat down &

Diana Iepure translated by Marius Surleac

opera & ballet

we were a hostel of soloists
the danseuses were hanging their lacy knickers
on a thick cotton rope for wind blowing
at the same balconies with
the sopranos
they were pouring borsch in stock from a white plastic bucket
they were feeding their lovers & after that
one could hear everything
through the stucco walls
the deaf-and-dumb kostea & liuda
weren’t the only ones marvelling at
she was reading
he was making tin cans and pickles


I can’t be as enthusiastic as I was before
I can’t cry in public anymore nor laugh with both lungs
nor forget the fight and come next to you
to clamp you with the legs
as if nothing had happened
I have inside me hundreds of lewd words
that would sound nice
but there they bide
afraid that someone else would hear them especially the children
this winter I turned grey
& dyed my hair four times a month
trying to find the perfect tint
& the clothes
that would hide it

the brass band

the brass band was enwidening behind the defunct
harder it was for the guy with the drum
when hitting its leather membrane
the echo was striking the walls of our house
the musicians
were singing walking
a bit skewed on the back
“take me as well”
some relative was bemoaning
but was getting scared
when her foot slipped off
on the grave’s edge
the sextons were nailing the wooden lid
& this was the sign
they were slowly dropping the coffin
throwing upon it the clay with the paddle
building a hummock
& rising the cross
the brass band wasn’t stopping
after drinking a pail of wine from arion
from the hill of the cemetery
horahs & sarbas were flooding

Marius Surleac was born in Vaslui, Romania. He is a physicist working on a PhD in Bioinformatics. He publishes poetry in journals like Pif Magazine, MadHat Lit(forthcoming), Poetry Bus (forthcoming), The Ofi Press (forthcoming), Pure Coincidence (forthcoming), Bare Fiction, 94 Creations (forthcoming), Dear Sir, Mad Swirl, Poetry Super Highway and others. He published his first poetry book called Zeppelin Jack at Herg Benet publishing house, in 2011. His Romanian translation of The Propaganda Factory, or Speaking of Trees – by Marc Vincenz, will be published in bilingual form at Adenium publishing house, in 2014.

Diana Iepure was born in Chisinau on November 20th, 1970, in a family of students from V. I. Lenin State University. She spent her childhood at Cosauti, a place close to the Nistru river, at the border with Ukraine. She finished the Faculty of History at the same university where her parents met. After the studies, she remained in Chisinau as a scientific researcher at the Moldavian National Museum of History. She published articles on political and social issues in the Chisinau press. Since 2003 she settled in Bucharest, the city that gave her a home, a complete family and literary recognition. She translates contemporary Russian writers as well as classic Russian literature. In 2004, she published her first poetry book at Vinea publishing house, receiving very good reviews.

The translated poems in this group were selected from “O suta cincizeci de mii la peluze”. This book was published by CDPL publishing house in 2011 and received the “Republica” prize at the International Book Fair, Chisinau, 2012 and the TIUK underground magazine prize.


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