Translated by Adam J. Sorkin, Petru Iamandi and Mihail Gălățanu
120 pages: $16.00 — October, 2014
Mihail Gălățanu is one of Romania’s most exciting contemporary poets. His verbal brilliance has been described as prodigious, explosive, exuberant, risky: the “Vesuvius” of post-communist poets, one critic enthused. Another praised his natural stylistic gifts by echoing a term that the great Nichita Stănescu used about himself, calling Gălățanu “a polyglot in the Romanian language.” The poetic persona of a Mihail Gălățanu poem is “uninhibited and gesticulating, biting and provocative, histrionic and sentimental, sexualized and mystic.” His lyricism has the intensity of “a plasma jet, suffusing everything, dissolving conventions…”—but not infrequently it turns hyperbolic, bardic, and also wildly comic. In The Starry Womb, the title defines the book’s central metaphor: the identification of the maternal womb with the celestial vault, thus creating a startling perspective by means of which, in the apt phrase of critic Daniel Cristea-Enache, the external world “is transformed into a pale extension of a fabulous primordial universe.”
His poetic endeavors have produced several thousand poems, impossible to be inventoried. Hundreds of them are extraordinary, though, by their visionary force and artful use of the Romanian language. Mihail Gălățanu can be seen as a Paganini of poetry, holding under his chin not a Stradivarius but a dictionary.
The Starry Womb is the poet’s song dedicated not only to his mother but also to the mother-universe. It is a challenging experience about what seems to be the intangibility of uterine world, the author’s sensitivity being the “magic key” to the so-called amniotic sleep.
In The Starry Womb the poems revolve around the mother-star like the planets around the sun in a register which is often solar, jubilant, ecstatic. Mihail Gălățanu is an atypical mystic embracing with an incandescent religiosity biological reflexes, physiological acts, and the most elementary instincts, shocking the reader both linguistically and imagistically.
The Starry Womb threatens to become a touchstone of recent Romanian poetry.