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On the occasion of the Romanian presidency of the EU council, we invited two Romanian authors to join our incoherent Brussels bunch. We asked Claudiu M. Florian, who won the European Prize for Literature in 2016, to bring along an emerging author. And boy did he ever take that choice seriously. Claudiu M. Florian and Irina Dobrescu, folks. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Tons of thank yous for being there!
Because there is no such thing as coincidence, this Snug Harbor was on World Poetry Day. New-Yorker-published Taymour Soomro opened with a brand new short story. Mimi Kunz brought some flash fiction and ended her reading with a series of poems, which eased us right into to the beautiful conclusion of this evening. For World Poetry Day we had asked both authors to bring a poem they love (read them underneath the pictures below). We had asked our Snug audience the same thing. One by one people climbed onstage, some bringing their own work, some bringing work by others. Poems were read in English, French, Arabic. Bliss. Gratitude. The kind of moment that makes it all worthwhile.
Our Authors’ Picks for World Poetry Day
Taymour Soomro’s Pick
TRY TO PRAISE THE MUTILATED WORLD by Adam Zagajewski
(Translation Clare Cavanagh)
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
Mimi Kunz’s Pick
IF by Norman MacCaig
If your hand came, dead in the dead of night,
And touched my forehead, waking me to see
You standing dead there in the dead of night,
I who fear ghosts would have no fear at all.
I’d greet you with the tenderest hello
And you would smile, though sad. And then you’d go.
There would be nothing deathly in your death
For your love always was the laughing sort
That quickened life and would not die with death.
And when you’d gone, I would not want to weep —
That loving gaiety would still be there
Filling with its own peace the quickened air.