Reading poetry is a completely different experience than, for instance, reading a novel. Reading poetry follows a different mindset, requires a different (astute) attention and an opening of the heart that needs a special diligent education.
All being said, reading poetry is always for me an extra effort of the mind. All day round I am busy reading, mostly books, any kind of books mostly, but poetry and (since a couple of months) fantastic literature not always. This always is often vanquished by my genuine curiosity towards the written word. I used to joke many years ago, in another life, that my weakness is that I cannot stand the view of a book without devouring it. It was always like this and it will always be.
But I approach poetry carefully, with distance, as it may happen when meeting someone who may know more about you than even yourself. The gates of poetry are gates of the heart filtered through the rationality of juggling with words. The heart with its mathematical inclinations reshapes and reignite worlds and this is what poetry does. For me at least.
I was not stranger to Cristina A. Bejan works as I previously wrote an academic review of her excellent monography of ´Intellectuals and Fascism in Interwar Romania´. A difficult topic shaking fondatory myths and mythical creatures of post-communist Romania. Anyone writing so clearly and bravely about such a topic is a very courageous person and I want to know more about her.
Her multi-awarded collection of beautiful poetry Green Horses on the Walls is lucid, direct, personal and, again, courageous. You need courage to expose yourself through poetry. People write memoirs those days, but poetry is THE revolutionary revelation of oneself. A collection of poems written in the last ten years, she writes both a historical and personal testimony. Her life, through her family´s encounters with bad angel of history, is part of the long duration, but in the end, it is she, through her own experience and voice, shaping all those elements - global PLUS personal - into a poem.
In her poetry, it is the historian, the woman, the voice of the diaspora - who actually did not stop talking Romanian, rather the opposite, as she adds Romanian words into her poems - the girlfriend, the betrayed woman. You see, poetry is so versatile...Labels are derisory, she rightly concluded in one of her poems but meaning can be decanted from everything, especially the wrong sides of (personal) histories.
At the end of the volume, she elegantly and impeccably translated from Romanian into English two very different yet strong voices of the history of European poetry: Nina Cassian and Ana Blandiana (who recently turned 80).
As I said before, poetry does have a beginning but reading it and fully grasping its meanings and feelings does not end. Therefore, I will continue adding to my world the intellectual wanderings shared by Cristina A. Bejan in her Green Horses on the Walls.
Rating: 5 stars
Disclaimer: Book kindly offered by the author, but the opinions are, as usual, my own