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This review is taken from PN Review 15, Volume 7 Number 1, September - October 1980.

ALIEN MANNERISMS Modern Romanian Poetry, edited by Nicholas Catanoy (Mosaic Press Oakville, Ontario)

On first inspection this is an engagingly enthusiastic book. Its editor is an expatriate Romanian, resident in Canada since 1962. His anthology contains the work of some 50 poets, including many expatriates whose poems are not printed in Romania, in about 100 poems. Although Mr Catanoy disarmingly proposes his desire not to make a 'fancy or laborious' anthology, but 'to share with the reader a poetic experience', the only principle of selection that one can discern is his own taste for the fanciful and the neo-surrealist, if not for the second-rate. Most of the known poets are represented by rather uncharacteristic poems; some important (and very 'Romanian') poets, like Bacovia, are not mentioned at all, and of the younger generation of poets the talented Blandiana, Baltag and Gheorghe should not have been unknown to Mr Catanoy.

The method of translation employed is worrying. So many vital and fundamental questions are airily begged by this statement: 'Being an art of words and music, poetry is different from the art of translation. Only poets should translate poets because poetry is the process of taking what is, poetically speaking, non-existent, and making it exist as poetry. Based on these principles I have sent the "cribs" to 22 Canadian poets. Then I asked each to send me the re-working of his or her favourite poem or poems. The vast majority have taken some liberties with the texts, following Robert Lowell's strategy. . . .'

Indeed they have, and in ...


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