By Marta Petreu
Translated by Adam J. Sorkin, Christina Zarifopol-Illias and Liviu Bleoca
120 pages: $16.00 — October, 2014
Marta Petreu’s white-hot, incantatory poetry in The Book of Anger is the intense dramatic expression of alienation and defiance, of spiritual rebellion as much as anger. The anguished voice of the solitary poet, “a woman thin as a sword” and arrogantly armed with “the verb…the word,” is that of an Eve reaching out in a cosmos of silence, blackness, absence: “On the branch no apple.” Petreu has been betrayed—by God, “Domine,” whom she maligns as “our father the mumbler the muncher,” “the Butcher the Flayer”; by the “magnificent phalanx of my men” whom she taunts, “I’ll transform them…to ink…The ink I write my shameless poems with”; by her own immersion in common human frailty and disease, “our lifedeath”; and by her womanly need to love, pity, forgive and understand, even the masculine creator, “both of us prisoners, O Almighty,” “a couple…like twins in a uterus too narrow.” This is searing poetry written with “sacred carnivorous words” that offer a terrible radiance.
Marta’s psalms are not someone’s dialogue with the Divine, with God, from here on earth, but that of someone in Hell! And someone who reproaches the Creator not for the fact that he, she, the poet, is here in Hell, but for the fact, the mistake, the meanness, the impotence of the Creator who created this world, life, existence… out of mud, infested with worms, hideous, of carbon. The poet Marta is ensnared in an error, fertile, expressionistic in form, nihilistic in content, a revolt against self and the Divine which conceals, of course, a terrible narcissism. A vehemence of the self, a blood relative of the dark apprehension of the greatest lyrical psalmist of the past century, Rainer Maria Rilke.
Marta Petreu’s poetry triumphs in one of the most radical expressions of lyricism in postwar art.
— Nicolae Breban
Marta Petreu addresses the Supreme Authority directly without intermediaries, in the manner of the Old Testament, not as a submissive soul but as a rebellious, renegade, rejected one. She is sometimes an Eve expelled but still a princess, whereas the jungle granted her for her earthly realm is all that she claims as hers, a country full of the privileged dangers of knowledge.
Kafka called such awareness… birth. The truth of the birth of the self transcends suffering. The mark of true poetry, of true poets.
— Norman Manea
Marta Petreu is an egocentric by nature, with an arrogance that must be understood as a refusal to spare herself. Her pride consists of making herself a negative example,…dissecting herself with a sharp bistoury so as to reveal her pain, her frustration, her lack of hope, her failure. Hers is a lyricism of disappointment, which does not hide behind a mask but declares itself: the poet sticks her finger into the wound, probing the most painful places, with an unbearable cruelty.
— Nicolae Manolescu