duration press -- international poetry

Sebastian Reichmann

Sebastian Reichmann was born in Romania in 1947, near the border with the former Soviet Union. Beginning in 1966, his poems were published in major literary journals, thanks to an ephemeral and deceptive liberalization on the rise to power of Nicolae Ceausescu. Reichmann's first book, Geraldine (1969), provoked the Communist dailies to exhort the country's publishers-likewise controlled by the Communist Party-to no longer publish this author, denounced as "cosmopolitan," "surrealist," and "hermetic." Since these qualifiers meant that the targeted writer would be marginalized, Reichmann soon began planning to go into exile in France-and to write in French. Meanwhile, in 1967 he met the great surrealist poet, Gellu Naum, who had been almost completely banned from publication for twenty years and whose first book of poems written after the 1947 Communist seizure of power would not be published till the following year (Athanor). The encounter was decisive for Reichmann, who already had had occasion to familiarize himself with the work of the principal surrealist poets. After leaving Romania with a visa for Israel, Reichmann began his Parisian adventure in 1973. At first publishing in literary journals, in 1975 he definitively gave up writing in Romanian; his first book written in French, Pour un Complot Mystique [For a Mystical Conspiracy] appeared in 1982. This book continued his investigation of history and personal memory, in the wake of his voluntary departure from the compulsory Paradise in search of the problematics of Hell. Following several brief trips and one long stay in the United States, Reichmann published Audience Captive [Captive Audience](1988), a book inspired in part by his experiences in America. A poem from this book-"Vieux Jeux & Nouveaux Jouets" [Old Games & New Toys]-was published in Romania three weeks after the fall of the dictatorship. The title of this poem, written some years before, proved prophetic for the situation in Romania in the months and years that followed. Umbletul SopÓrlei [The Walk of the Lizard], poems from the period 1966-1972, was recently published in Romania. In 1995 Reichmann and Luba Jurgenson, his wife, translated Naum's autobiographical "novel," Zenobia, into French (English translation by James Brook and Sasha Vlad (Northwestern Univ. Press 1995)).

Poems:

Russian Christmas, Rue Daru

Icy Occasions

You Put Yourself in the Danger of the Night