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Mihail Gălățanu

The Starry Womb


Mihail Gălățanu (pictured at right with translator Adam Sorkin) published his first book of poems in 1987, Stiri despre mine (News About Me), and his second, Scrîşnind în pumni, cu grație (Clenching My Fists Gracefully, 1993), six years later. Numerous poetry titles have followed almost annually, among them: Bunicul Kennedy (Grandfather Kennedy, 1996); Evanghelia lui Barabas (The Gospel of Barabbas, 1996); Mireasa tuturor (Everybody’s Bride, 1997); Mormîntul meu se sapă singur(My Grave Digs Itself, 2003); and Burta înstelată (The Starry Womb, 2005, from which most of the poems in this book mostly derive). Poeme amniotice (Amniotic Poems, 2008) won the poetry prize of the Writers’ Association of Bucharest, and Douăsprezece cântece înaintea nașterii (Twelve Songs Before Birth, 2012) completed what Gălățanu termed his trilogy, a poetic cycle begun with The Starry Womb and Amniotic Poems. Other poetry collections include Poetus Captivus (1998); Memorialul plăcerii (Pleasure’s Memorial, 2000); a pair of 2001 books, O noapte cu Patria (A Night with the Nation) and Româna cu prostii (Romanian with Nonsense); Apocalipsa printr-o gură de om (Apocalypse through a Human Mouth, 2004); Mortul îndrăgosti (The Dead Man in Love, 2010); and România aproximativă (Romania More or Less, 2011). Additionally, Gălățanu has produced works of prose fiction and essays.
Brilliantly provocative and groundbreaking in his poetry, Gălățanu earned what one might refer to as a backhand recognition of his singular talents by being officially accused of offending national honor and Christian morality in a 2001 criminal proceeding. Numbers of notable Romanian critics and writers leapt to his defense, not only protesting interference with the freedom of artistic expression but also specifically praising Gălățanu’s “virtuosity” as it reveals itself in his “robust,” engrossing, “hot, lascivious,” and ambitious bardic lyricism, a poetry that flares “like a jet of plasma” that “vaporizes” those conventions opposing its triumph.

Mihail Gălățanu was born in 1963 in the Romanian city of Galaţi and studied physics and mechanics; he later won a scholarship from the French government and the European Community to pursue studies in international relations. He has worked as a copywriter at a Romanian advertising agency and at newspapers, and later became editor-in-chief of Playboy Romania and of Flacăra, a glossy Romanian monthly magazine. He recently edited the periodical, The Financial Marketplace, but currently, having completed his master’s degree in the oenological sciences, he edits a number of food, drink and wine magazines. His poems have been translated into French, English, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Danish and Bulgarian.

The Starry Womb is the first book-length presentation of Mihail Gălățanu’s poetry in the English-speaking world.