Elena Vlădăreanu


europe. ten mournful songs

(translated by Florin Buzdugan)

Elena Vlădăreanu (b. 2nd February 1981, Medgidia, Constanta County) is a Romanian poet, radio host at Romania Cultural Radio (Radio România Cultural) and performance writer/creator (along with Robert Bălan).
She has published a series of poetry books starting with pages (pagini), Timpul Publishing House, 2002; europe. ten mournful songs (europa. zece cântece funerare, 2005, Cartea Românească, reed. 2018), Tracus Arte; Cracks (Fisuri), Pontica, 2003. In 2016, her private space (spațiu privat), Cartea Românească, 2009, was translated into Italian by Gabriele di Palma at Pietre Vive publishing house.
She is an influent poet, whose most influential book remains, according to Mihai Iovănel, europe. ten mournful songs, from which we present the current selection.

The poems were translated by Florin Buzdugan, who, to keep it short and simple, says that he is both an aspiring poet and translator, and also that he hopes to, one day, finish his PhD thesis. He is currently coordinating the Saturday Translations project (traducerile de sâmbătă), at https://traduceriledesambata.wordpress.com.
He has translated for post/h/um journal two essays, has written two essays which have been published, and has translated for two past Poesis International issues.

I finally know the wretchedness of the kind people
I know these people with wet and
round hands, ready to caress everyone

                                                          Gherasim Luca, of course

there are days when
each of us
can be inconsequent and mischievous
the decision of not dying
of resisting
we have taken it too
the children of corruption
guilty of having been born
amidst two centuries
between a queue at the butcher’s
and one at the egg store
on christmas we were shown
people being butchered live
we grew in the dog’s belly
which during that night
stuffed itself with fresh brain
today we learn that people
in whom we had faith
went willingly
and snitched their friends to the securitate
treason wants to become our role model
it gives us lessons of good behavior:
do not have sex do not do drugs
do not write expletive words
be metaphysical
do not commit suicide
do not kills your parents

we wait in silence
for our life
to take the path of statistics sheets


your present is alike the danube
your future alike the rhine
two outstretched arms
two twin arms
one blackened by all the track marks
the other one with the skin torn to pieces
the aridity of the beginning of the century
when not even the grass isn’t what it used to be
it doesn’t grow anymore
on the bottom of blood puddles
or in the place where teeth
and ribs and craniums were smashed
here is my romania:
its future began
once with the last
great deaths of her
who dies today?
the poet.
who is murdered today?
the child

                                                          Never, but never 
                                                          since the book                                                                    
                                                          appeared, have I read 
                                                          this part, I’ve 
                                                          pretended that it 
                                                          doesn’t exist. This 
                                                          time I am really 
                                                          cutting it out, I’ve got 
                                                          rid of it.


recent history

here’s how things are:
mother will never leave
father will never leave
if you die you will never leave

                                                         When I first read this
                                                         text, Florin Iaru, who                                                    
                                                         was in the auditory, 
                                                         jump right up applauding 
                                                         and saying bravo, I have 
                                                         never lived another 
                                                         moment of glory more
                                                         intense than that one.

the shampoos I keep taking
from your hotel bathrooms europe
they all have the same scent
like the eau de cologne mărgăritar
bought from tobacco shops
don’t you understand that things aren’t that different
there where
you will never get to?


history is a piece of brick wall
in a town in central europe
history is a corner of a photograph
in each ragged hobo
it is something from within me
in every hungry and chased off dog
it’s something from within me
in the drunken and covered in vomit men
in the brave men of our peoples
all smelling of urine blight and fear
it is I and my name
is romania

my wealth: a few hundred books
a red plastic washbowl
a spent flat iron
a tea set
of brown color
an unmerciful and egotistical soul
an unfrocked skin
a bored god
a desire as a mortal sin

you are walking on the streets
of a city in central europe
my cowardice and my lack of hope

second letter to nikos

put your hand on it touch it do you feel the wall?
here no one sees us
here we are safe
with us there is a huge thick wall
we could caress one another kiss cut off
our sexes but this already is of no
we knead on with our feet
the adobe made of ox guts we participate
at the erection of our national / zonal history
the day’s bleakness we kick away with the moist of the blood

we were at the wedding
we were happy
the people fired their guns
out of happiness they did
nothing bad then the
bombs fell then we had
no arms left I will never
put a gun in my hand
the children listen during the night
to war songs
a history traversed from one end to the other by shrills

I searched for you through the ruins
of the city dressed as an afghana
I met the blind children
carrying with them
the cranium of the freshly killed king
fluttering in the spike
why do you want to know more
about this woman
illusions have neither body nor soul
my country? here it was never the land of milk and honey
and it will never be

seventh letter to nikos

there is between us two something onerous like a shadow
a clay doll or maybe a gull with its throat cut off
the splinter in the finger that hides in a cocoon of pus
still your ankles can still be seen, onofris

behind me there is a woman dressed
in white and red. behind me there is a woman
with a wig made of raw flesh.
she has a flower’s name. she puts
her hands on my shoulders licks one of my ears
she forces me to touch her. my hands
search for her breasts she hasn’t gotten any on her chest
mushrooms grow big scented one
she has a big belly she might give birth any moment now

my mother died at birth, onofris
the second world war had begun

she was a girl from cernavodă. one day
I cut one of her arms
and drank all her blood. it was good
it felt well. I am always well with blood

this man will never know that the shadow that falls on his face is my shadow. in fact, he will
never ask himself whose was the cerement shadowing his face on an evening at the end of
October on vitan avenue. for him, I do not exist. at this very moment when he is crossing the
street for him no one else exists. only the steps on the cob stone, this tramline and the silvery
jacket of the boy that just disappeared under the wheels.