Exquisite Corpse - Issue 3
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Marin Sorescu, Mihai Ursachi and Virgil Mihaiu
translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Lidia Vianu


For as Little as One Life     
by Marin Sorescu

Grip the tray of each day
With both hands
And join the line passing
Before this counter.

There's plenty of sun
For everybody,
Plenty sky,
Plenty moon.

 From the earth arise the aromas
Of luck, of happiness, of glory,
Tickling your nostrils

So, don't be stingy,
Live according to your heart's appetite,
The price is dirt cheap.

For instance, for as little as one life,
You can obtain
The most beautiful woman,
Plus a hot roll.

      translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Lidia Vianu

Don Juan [When I finally make a masterpiece]   
by Marin Sorescu

When I finally make a masterpiece
Of a love
I've labored over a long time,
I transcribe a clean copy of it
Onto another woman's heart.

Nature was wise
To create many more women
Than men,
For we get the chance to refine
Our ardors,
Employing a large number
Of rough drafts.

      Translated by Adam J. Sorkin

The Daybreak Cocks Unloose the Bow   
by  Mihai Ursachi

Co-co-hoo-hoo, the cocks shriek, a million cocks at daybreak.
In panic I crack my skull against the ceiling
while the cocks screech in chorus,
a million dreaming cocks.

I am a bow of blue steel,
tensed, coiled every long night in my bed.
Hoo-rico, the cocks crow, and I have exploded,
I spring as high as the beams, my head gets knocked cockeyed.

Their dreamlike cacophony terrifies me.
To hell with them, you lunatic, these are ghosts
screaming in graves
of fog and rain.

      Translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Lidia Vianu


Perpetuum Mobile   
by  Virgil Mihaiu

the madhouse
was next door to
the birth house

beyond the threshold
there were the saviors of nations
the parents of peoples
the progenitors of the great genius dictators

the mothers of all the motherlands
labored hard to discharge their obligations

the birth house
was next door to
the madhouse

      translated by Adam J. Sorkin with the poet


The Ideal Encounter Between the Ideal Tamer and the Ideal Young Mare
by  Virgil Mihaiu

the maneuvers might be brilliant
light would be redefined in contact
with the opalescence of your nipples
through the scar of your labia
we would escape the world's miseries
hiding ourselves in our own
if you can't make the time
right at this very moment
all the world's water resources
will irrevocably burst into flame

      translated by Adam J. Sorkin with the poet


The Deep Evening   
by Virgil Mihaiu

the millennium is about to end

a deep autumn evening

from out of the cold
a silhouette assumes her form
mignonne mignonne

beneath the sheen of her stockings
I can divine sweet bones

she is afraid of touching
but our dialogue
sets ablaze the incandescent plain
of the bed
or in the midst of the flowers

I am afraid of her magnetism
as if intuiting Saint-Exupery:

'you become responsible in eternity
for whatever you've tamed'

      translated by Adam J. Sorkin with the poet



Virgil Mihaiu, poet, essayist, and jazz critic, has published six books of poetry and two of essays.  In 1999, Recensamant de epifanii / Census of Epiphanies, a volume of 70 poems in English and Romanian in translations mostly by Adam Sorkin with the poet, was published by Paralela 45 in Pitesti, Romania.  Mihaiu is currently in Lisbon on a 6-month grant from the Camoes Institute.

Poet and playwright Marin Sorescu was Romania's Nobel Prize nominee in 1996, the year he died of liver cancer at the age of 60.  He is the author of more than twenty volumes of poetry.  Sorescu's final book, The Bridge (1997), written during the last two months of his life, will be published in 2001 by Bloodaxe Books in translation by Adam Sorkin and Lidia Vianu.

Mihai Ursachi is one of Romania's most eminent and most honored writers.  In 1998, he published a career retrospective in Romania, Madness and Light.  His poetry has been published (or is forthcoming) in Adam Sorkin's co-translations in over a dozen magazines and anthologies in the United States.  Ursachi lives in Iasi, Romania, where he teaches at the university and is secretary of the Writers' Association.

Adam J. Sorkin published four books of translation in 1999, among them, from BOA Editions, Sea-Level Zero, poems by Daniela Crasnaru, and from the Poetry New York poetry pamphlet series, Bebop Baby by Mircea Cartarescu.  He recently won the Kenneth Rexroth Memorial Translation Prize from Compost literary magazine.

Lidia Vianu, a poet, novelist, critic, and translator, is on the English faculty of the University of Bucharest.  She has been Fulbright lecturer at U-Cal Berkeley and SUNY Binghamton.  Vianu's critical volume, British Desperadoes at the Turn of the Millennium, was published in 1999, and her poetry titles are 1, 2, 3 (1997) and Moderato (1998).

Books by Adam Sorkin available at Amazon.com (click on title for reviews and ordering information):

The Sky Behind the Forest, Liliana Ursu (tr. with the poet and Tess Gallagher)
Sea-Level Zero by Daniela Crasnaru (translated mostly witih the poet)
City of Dreams and Whispers: An Anthology of Contemporary Poets from Iasi, by Adam J. Sorkin (Translator)
Transylvanian Voices, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Liviu Bleoca
An Anthology of Romanian Women Poets, Adam J. Sorkin and Kurt W. Treptow (Translators


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