Carmen Bugan - Releasing the Porcelain Birds


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Carmen Bugan - Releasing the Porcelain Birds


Published April 2016. ISBN 978-1-8461-469-7, 9 x 6ins, Paperback.
Published 2016. [Download a sample PDF from this volume here.]
‘Now I live in a different place of writing.’
In 1989 the five members of the Bugan family were allowed to leave Ceauşescu’s Romania with one suitcase each and death-threats in their wake. In 2010 the poet Carmen Bugan took possession of 1,500 pages of Securitate files on her father and in 2013 a further 3,000 pages of secret files on her mother, sister, brother and herself. Releasing the Porcelain Birds is about the transformation of that extraordinary history of Cold War Europe into poetry; it is about writing the self free and how poetry drawn in a new and tender narrative can do this. In this manner Releasing the Porcelain Birds is one continuous poem which faces down dispossession and reaches towards exuberance. 
‘How far you travelled, my still swans, my white sparrows,
archived for thirty years all over the country, shelved
       and cleared;
I see you now, when I am too old to take you in my hands
and run with you around the rooms of the house, or
place you on tree branches to see what the singing birds
make of you, to mend you when you shatter:
         as I did long ago.’
Through a subtle poetic interrogation of the secret police records, which is in itself an act of freedom, Carmen Bugan removes layer by layer the official history of her family’s persecution and restores the truth of a shared life appropriated by the state. She finds in her poetry both method and answer to meet the brutality. Her exploration of the rift between the surveillance history and the collective memories of a family is pursued with all the skills and moral courage of a remarkable poet writing a poetry that must be written.  —Kelvin Corcoran
“Following her successful memoir, Burying the typewriter—Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police (2012), and the complementary volumes of poetry, Carmen Bugan now offers a powerful book of poems focusing on the bleak time under Romanian secret police surveillance, with added excerpts from the secret police files. We have here a telling biographical document on the exasperation of captivity and the lyrical, surprising consequence of such a spiritual nightmare. Releasing the Porcelain Birds is dedicated to the years that the author and her family suffered the harsh isolation and dangers under the ubiquitous eyes of informers and the secret police itself, and the magical literary consequence to such an ordeal, through the expressive and original lyricism of her poems. Loneliness, resilience, intensity, desperation, estrangement are to be found abundantly in the memory of that time but also through their artistic vibrancy, for which we should be grateful to this gifted and inspired writer. Excellent writing from an excellent writer.” —Norman Manea

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