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Poem of the week: Peasants by Marin Sorescu

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A fictional government report on the most benighted citizens of Ceauescus Romania, this is satire written in a time when all hope of change seemed futile

Marin Sorescu, one of Romanias most widely known poets, was a shrewd comedian, loved by his readers and tolerated by the political establishment. At the same time, more critical than he appeared, he wrote poems that were far too outspoken to have been publishable while Ceauescus miserable regime still tottered upright. This weeks poem, Peasants, (arnii), is one of those.

Peasants is a translation by John Hartley Williams and Hilde Ottschofski from the Bloodaxe collection, Censored Poems. It draws on two books by Sorescu, Poezii alese de cenzur and Traversarea, and was published in 2001, some five years after the poets premature death. A further collection, The Bridge, gathering up the extraordinarily brave poems he wrote during his final illness, with translations by Adam J Sorkin and Lidia Vianu, appeared from the same publisher in 2004.

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