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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 171, Volume 33 Number 1, September - October 2006.

AN IRONIC SCEPTICISM ILEANA MALANCIOIU, After the Raising of Lazarus, translated by Eilean Ni Chuilleanain
KRISTINA DIMITROVA , A Visit to the Clockmaker, translated by Gregory O'Donoghue
KATARZYNA BORUN-JAGODZINSKA , Pocket Apocalypse, translated by Gerry Murphy
ANDRES EHIN , Moose Beetle Swallow, translated by Patrick Cotter
DANA PODRACKA , Forty Four, translated by Robert Welch
KYRIAKOS CHARALAMBIDES , Selected Poems, translated by Greg Delanty
GUNTARS GODINS , Flying Blind, translated by Eugene O'Connell (Southword Editions) £8 each

 In 2005, the Irish city of Cork was named Capital of Culture. The poet Thomas McCarthy, sponsored by various city and arts councils, initiated a series of poetry translations from new European Union member states. Poets from Cork were paired with poets from Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Estonia, Slovakia, Cyprus and Latvia and others; languages were learned in some cases, ‘intermediate’ translators were used in others, to publish slim, elegant but somewhat disquieting collections of translations. Of the translators, Patrick Cotter provides a ‘Foreword’ explaining his work with another language and in the case of Ileana Malancioiu’s book, it was decided to have a Romanian academic, Raluca Radulescu, introduce the poets’ work and briefly comment on Eilean Ni Chuilleanain’s translations.

 What would Eastern European poets talk about after the fall of communism? Western readers had come to expect poetry of witness, poetry of dissent, the language of parable and seriousness of content (even if not politicised) common to the poetry written against Stalin and his legacy. The Southword series editor clearly has a predilection for poetry of commentary on social realities, continuing perhaps the tradition of realist expectation. Some of the successful poems (with their translations) show in their texture the particular ease with which East European poets can take on board political and social subjects. Indeed, the best poems in these collections blend a confident speaking voice with an accurate perception of staggering ‘democracy’. Take for example Dimitrova’s ‘In the Train’, which merits quotation in full:

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