with Andreea Iulia Scridon:
Bio: Andreea Iulia Scridon is a Romanian-American writer and translator. Her translation of a series of short stories by Ion D. Sîrbu, a representative of subversive writing under the communist regime, is forthcoming in 2021 with ABPress, and her co-translations with Adam J. Sorkin of the Romanian poet Traian T. Coșovei are forthcoming in 2021 with Broken Sleep Books. She has also translated a book of poems by Ion Cristofor, forthcoming with Naked Eye Publishing in 2021. She has a chapbook of her own poetry forthcoming with Broken Sleep Books, a mini-book forthcoming with Ethel Press, and a poetry book forthcoming with MadHat Press in 2022.
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
I am not atypical in that I started out as a voracious reader: as a child, I spent a lot of time coming and going from the library and, under the influence of certain likable characters (Anne Shirley of Green Gables, Pollyanna Whittier, Junie B. Jones, Ramona Quimby, Betsy-Tacy-and-Tib, Samantha, Molly, and Kirsten of the American Girl Series) I kept a diary throughout my childhood, probably not unlike many girls my age at the time. I went to the library so many times that decades later I can remember the plan of the building. And I often think of certain picture books from my childhood that I would love to look through now.
I became very interested in adult novels with Great Expectations, and went on to devour everything I could find by Haruki Murakami and Jeffrey Eugenides when I was in high school.
My relationship is poetry was more loaded: as a child I felt something that I interpreted as aversion but which was really emotion. I became gradually interested in it, then took to writing it on the London Tube when I moved there, and now it’s my strongest genre.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Andreea: I love what translating and writing reviews of others’ work has taught me, but as a result of pandemic isolation lately I’ve been equally interested in reclaiming the self in writing, so I’ve been looking at what might called self-referential fiction. The Russians are my favorites: Tolstoy’s Childhood/Boyhood/Youth, Bunin’s The Life of Arseniev, Makine’s Dreams of My Russian Summers. It’s hard to pin down a particular “strongest” influence because at the moment I read largely for study: if a year ago I was writing historical fiction, now I’m looking an entirely different framework.
Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/artist?
For a long time, it was something of a given that I would follow my family dynasty of becoming a doctor. That said, it wasn’t so much a pivotal moment but rather a gradual awakening or process that happened to me when I was sixteen to seventeen, when I began coming into my own and identifying as a free thinker. I also had the support of some wonderful teachers. This all came at the right moment: by 18, I knew what I wanted to do.
Although my parents are both physicians, both of them are very artistically attuned – though perhaps I shouldn’t say “although” as they have always viewed medicine as a very humanistic occupation. My father is an excellent cartoonist and adapted The Odyssey, The Iliad, and Creation into children’s stories for me, and my very observant and also talented mother also introduced me to a vast range of music, film, literature.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
Andreea: What’s spectacular is that I’ve been throughout the years most taken by people who have nothing to do with writing, be they part of fleeting encounters or participants in complicated relationships. But Professor David Ricks, who was then teaching Byzantine Studies and Comparative Literature at King’s College London, was the person who gave poetry an added dimension of humanity that I didn’t know it could have. It was a fortuitous thing to catch him right before he retired.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?
My growing up between Romania, France, and the US absolutely influenced my writing. From an early age, this continuous change of scenery instilled a sense of atmosphere in me, which I think is essential to my poetry. And a certain flexibility, I like to think. There’s an entire epic autobiography in that. I then spent my school years in Florida and my summers in Romania, which is how A Romanian Poem was born – of that experience, of everything it meant and how I “sensed” it. It always felt like an immersive return to the past, as opposed to America, which I would say enlarged my sense of possibility and therefore made me quite enthusiastic…But Romanian aesthetics and tropes are undoubtedly an important part of my work. And I was very lucky in that my grandmother took me around Europe during these vacations, which enlarged my interests, tastes, and knowledge.
I wrote a chapbook, Under the Nile-Green Sky, based on Debussy’s compositions, which is set in Barcelona and which will be printed by Greying Ghost Press. I wrote that when I stayed at a friend’s in Barcelona for two weeks (Laia Serratosa-Capdevila, a very talented and cerebral poet), and we wrote poetry exclusively on this topic during that time, starting from Isao Tomita’s Debussy covers. Then there’s Unicornucopia, a mini-book coming out with Ethel Press, which is a lyrical flight over Paris. So those are two concrete examples of journeys that directly influenced my work.
Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?
Andreea: I’m proud of A Romanian Poem (forthcoming with MadHat Press at the beginning of 2022)for its symphonic qualities: I feel it is faithful to the emotional experience that I had in mind when I first envisioned it. But my sense of incentive is attached to my feeling that my most meaningful work is always just around the corner.
You can read a taster of this collection here: http://www.eratiopostmodernpoetry.com/issue29_Scridon.html
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Andreea: My idea of relaxation is a walk or a bike ride with no set duration or destination. It might sound dull in its nothingness, but maybe that’s what I need for my thoughts to meander unconstricted. Living in Oxford was particularly lovely for this reason: I’d either go around town and pass by the colleges, the cobblestones shiny with rain and the air rheumy under street-lamps, or follow the line of the Thames down the Canal and run into mother swans with their cygnets following in tidy rows. It felt like the Garden of Eden.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others? Or name or show a favorite piece of artwork if you are an artist.
I keep thinking of Lucian Blaga’s poem, “Psalm”, which I translated into English. Here is a fragment:
“God, what do I do now?
I undress in the Midst of you.
I take off my body
like a coat you leave behind
in the road.”
And here’s a self-portrait of that body in acrylic:
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Andreea: Besides my own works of poetry, I want to signal two poetry books that will be published in my English translation this fall.
Come September, Somewhere a Blind Child will be published with Naked Eye Publishing. It’s a very moral poetry, though I think not intentionally so – rather the voice of a mature, humble yet intellectual and very likable man comes through in every brief experience that is refined into a poem. I’m very fond of its colloquial gravitas, pleasant lulling (never boring, rather sensual), and its honest perspectives.
In another interview, I recommended translation to any poet because of the special relationship that you develop with the author’s work by creating it all over again: “I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my lids and all is born again”, Sylvia Plath would say. But I also recommend it for the way in which it forces you to be attentive to every single word in a poem. This is something I learned co-translating in particular, with Adam J. Sorkin, an impressive translator and a friend I treasure for his sincerity and wit. Together, we translated the selected poetry of Traian T. Coșovei, who I think represents something new for Anglophone readers: there’s something robotic and cosmic about the world he builds, out of a very human machinery. That should be out in November 2021.
You can read an excerpt here: https://www.asymptotejournal.com/blog/2020/10/13/translation-tuesday-three-poems-by-traian-t-cosovei/