Shifting Borders: East European Poetries of the Eighties

Front Cover
Walter M. Cummins
Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1993 - Poetry - 481 pages
Shifting Borders, which brings together a substantial body of East European poetry published in the 1980s, emphasizes the work of a decade that culminated in one of the most significant turning points in the history of that region, if not the modern world. Organized by language rather than political boundary, this anthology reveals the vital role of poetry in each society and gives voice to many of the emotions behind the drive for political independence and cultural identity. Included are the poetries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia. Each section is edited and introduced by a leading poet, translator, or scholar noted as an authority on that particular poetry.
Although their subjects, styles, and techniques often differ, in total these poems make clear the distinctions between the nature of poetry in Eastern Europe and that in the West. While several of the languages represented here are limited to a small number of speakers, each has a commitment to the central role of poetry in the history of its people and as a source of their unity.
All of the poems in this collection were written during a time of political oppression, and many are marked by that unhappy circumstance, with the issue of the ability to express oneself often at the center of the work. Some were written in virtual secrecy, shown only to a few readers or smuggled to the West. In a few cases, the English translations in this collection would not have been possible before the changes of 1989. The reaction to oppression can be defiant anger or satire, or - less directly - a statement of historical ethnic affirmation that implicitly challenges any external authority that would deny that culture. Of course, many other poems in Shifting Borders evoke the human subjects familiar to the literature of many times and places - love and longing, life and death.
While these works stand on their own, their role in the expression of culture is illuminated by their grouping with the works of other poems from their nation and their era. Poetry, of course, is not history, and poetry as an art has the power to live beyond one time and place; but as a compilation the poems in this anthology offer some deep insights into a crucial period.

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Shifting borders: East European poetries of the eighties

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With the Iron Curtain gone, this anthology shows how diverse and flourishing are the "poetries'' of Eastern Europeans beyond well-known names like Vaclav Havel and Czeslaw Milosz. Arranged by language ... Read full review


Poetry of the Baltic Republics
Estonia compiled by Doris Kareva
About the Poets
Estonian Poems
Latvia compiled by Aina Kraujiete
Poland compiled by Daniel Bourne
About the Poets
Polish Poems
Romania compiled by Stavros Deligiorgis
About the Poets
Romanian Poems
Ukraine Compiled by Larissa M L Z Onyshkevych
About the Poets

About the Poets
Poets in Latvia
Lithuania compiled by Rimvydas Silbajoris
About the Poets
Lithuanian Poems
Poetry of the Central Eastern States
Bulgaria compiled by Ludmilla PopovaWightman
About the Poets
Bulgarian Poems
The Czech Republic and Slovakia compiled by E J Czerwinski and Stana Dolezal
About the Poets
Czech and Slovak Poems
Hungary compiled by Bruce Berlind
About the Poets
Hungarian Poems
Ukrainian Poems
Poetry of the South Slavs
Croatia compiled by Ales Debeljak
About the Poets
Croatian Poems
Serbia compiled by Ales Debeljak
About the Poets
Serbian Poems
Slovenia compiled by Ales Debeljak
About the Poets
Slovene Poetry
Section Editors and Introduction Authors
About the Translators
Index of Poets

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Page 15 - I /COMPLACENCIES of the peignoir, and late ^—' Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair, And the green freedom of a cockatoo Upon a rug, mingle to dissipate The holy hush of ancient sacrifice. She dreams a little, and she feels the dark Encroachment of that old catastrophe, As a calm darkens among water-lights. The pungent oranges and bright green wings Seem things in some procession of the dead, Winding across wide water, without sound. The day is like wide water, without sound, Stilled...
Page 17 - Kafka sees the realistic surface of existence with unusual precision, he knows by heart, as it were, its code of gestures, all the external mechanics of events and situations, how they dovetail and interlace, but these to him are but a loose epidermis without roots, which he lifts off like a delicate membrane and fits onto his transcendental world, grafts onto his reality.
Page 15 - The lough will claim a victim every year. It has virtue that hardens wood to stone. There is a town sunk beneath its water. It is the scar left by the Isle of Man.
Page 17 - Inanimate objects are always correct and cannot, unfortunately, be reproached with anything. I have never observed a chair shift from one foot to another, or a bed rear on its hind legs. And tables, even when they are tired, will not dare to bend their knees.
Page 17 - Anabasis") or a common experience (as in "The Clock," "Wringer," or "Hell") that is being unmasked. The unmasking takes place, paradoxically, even when the speaker states that he has not succeeded in confirming his suspicions, in catching an object in the act of removing its mask: Inanimate objects are always correct and cannot, unfortunately, be reproached with anything. I have never observed a chair shift from one foot to another, or a bed rear on its hind legs. ["Przedmioty," "Objects," H 133,...
Page 17 - ... interlace, but these to him are but a loose epidermis without roots, which he lifts off like a delicate membrane and fits onto his transcendental world, grafts onto his reality. His attitude to reality is radically ironic, treacherous, profoundly ill-intentioned — the relationship of the prestidigitator to his raw material. He only simulates the attention to detail, the seriousness, and the elaborate precision of this reality in order to compromise it all the more thoroughly.
Page 16 - ... themselves. I do not like the idea of just a gesture. They should be told forthright. General WOOD. . Mr. PASSMAN. I agree with you 100 percent, but I am surprised. It seems to me that if the other fellow can give lip service and turn his people against the program, there is something weak about the program. I do not know what it is and it is not my responsibility to find out. It causes me some concern that we have to deal with these programs where it is in the interest of the recipient country's...

About the author (1993)

Walter Cummins has published five previous short story collections-Witness, Where We Live, Local Music, The End of the Circle, and The Lost Ones. More than 100 of his stories, as well as memoirs, essays, and reviews, have appeared in magazines such as Kansas Quarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, New Letters, Under the Sun, Arts & Letters, Confrontation, Bellevue Literary Review, Connecticut Review, The Laurel Review, Other Voices, Georgetown Review, Contrary, Sonora Review, Abiko Quarterly, Weber Studies, Midwest Quarterly, West Branch, South Carolina Review, Crosscurrents, Crescent Review, The MacGuffin, in book collections, and on the Web. With Thomas E. Kennedy, he is co-publisher of Serving House Books, an outlet for novels, memoirs, and story, poetry, and essay collections. For more than twenty years, he was editor of The Literary Review. He teaches in Fairleigh Dickinson University's MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Creative Writing and Literature programs.

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