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This interview is taken from PN Review 154, Volume 30 Number 2, November - December 2003.

Carmen Bugan in Conversation Rebecca Loncraine

Carmen Bugan is a Romanian-American poet who emigrated from Romania in 1989. Her father, apolitical dissident, spent twelve years in prison for his anti-communist activism. Amnesty International campaigned for his release. Carmen was nineteen years old when she arrived in Michigan with her family, and she spoke no English. However, now she writes her poetry in English. Her collection, Crossing the Carpathians, will be published by Carcanet in October 2004.

REBECCA LONCRAINE: Why have you called your forthcoming collection Crossing the Carpathians?

CARMEN BUGAN: The collection is structured around the idea of crossings. Moving from Romania to the United States is a strong theme in this book, but at various levels the poems cross other places including Ireland and England.

You learned English at the age of nineteen. Can you tell me about your relationship with English?

I belong to the 1989 wave of East European exiles, or more humbly put, emigrants. My relationship with English is directly influenced by the relationship I had with my native Romanian. My own language was oppressed by a political system in ways which affected deeply the consciousness of the language and one's sense of identity. Specific to my situation, while my father was in prison, the secret police installed microphones all over the house. When we wanted to talk about things we heard on Radio Free Europe about my father or when we had particular things we needed to deal with that ...

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