Ioana Ileana Ștețco was born on 24th September, 1952, in Borșa, Maramureş. A member of the ‘Romanian Writers’ Union’ and labelled the ‘subtle alchemist of existential melancholy’, she has published three poetry collections, spanning four decades. Her poems have been described as ‘remarkably vivid, tumultuous, overwhelming and grave’. Ștețco’s collections have won several national poetry prizes. Her latest collection, Pay Attention, Madam, was published in 2016.
(by Ioana Ileana Ștețco, translated by Gabi Reigh)
When you close your eyes
I sink into sleep
Tethered with dreams
Rustling with hay
Where the few swell their wings
While the rest toil to curb
The sadness of a dream of sand
When I bend down
It is you who folds down
Until you are one with the barefoot earth
While I thirst for grass
Thirst for sleep
Traitors who plotted the mutiny of fish
Dry up in their wells
The clamor of seamless water and parched earth
Gathers the gods in the round
As words clutch their roots, searching
A story walled beneath silence
A story beckoning through a glimmer of light heavy as sin.
Gabi Reigh’s translations and fiction have been published in Modern Poetry in Translation, World Literature Today and The Fortnightly Review. She has won the Stephen Spender prize for poetry in translation and was shortlisted for the Tom-Gallon Society of Authors short story award. She is currently engaged in a translation project called Interbellum Series focusing on works from the Romanian interwar period: Poems of Light by Lucian Blaga was published in 2018 and The Town with Acacia Trees and Women by Mihail Sebastian will be published later this year. She is currently working on a translation of Danse Macabre (originally Ciuleandra), by Liviu Rebreanu.