In Clay and Star, Romanian poet Liliana Maria Ursu captures with breathtaking precision the convergence of the sacred with the mundane. Whether anchored in Sibiu, Visby, Skala, or San Francisco, her poems both honor and transcend place and time as they search obsessively for essence, truths, self-knowledge, and the divine within.
The Pine in the Bay 5 Poem Written on a Rainy Day about Garden Shears 6 Poem with Wax Wicket 7 Chimney Sweepers between Millenia 8 Poem in January 9 Luggage 10 Spring Fire 11 The Barn 12 Prayer 14 Dusk with Poet 15 The One Who Leaves Few Footprints in the Snow 16 Poem with Wicket in Stephen the Great’s Bell Tower 17 The Light of the Psalms 18 Poem with Stairway to the Hermit’s Hut 19 Father Cleopa 20 Stigmata 21 First Day at Văratec Monastery 22 If I Lift My Eyes 23 Messenger 24 Poem Composed while Being Watched by a Bird 25 In the Heart of the Forest 26 Poem with Blueberries, Fog, and Sibiu 27 History of a Couple 29 The Tower of Steps 30 Landscape with Poet 31 Painting with Late Night in Păltiniş 32 Harmonia Mundi 33 The Main Square 35 The Little Square 36 Between the Wheat Wells and the Bridal Mirrors 37 The Tower of Welders 38 The Street of Measuring Scales 40 The Bridge over the Train Station 42 In the Burgh of Yesteryear 44 Healings 45 Shards of Happiness 46 Mother’s Birth Year 47 Sitting at the Table with My Angel in Patmos 49 Sibiu Rain 51 The Windows of Visby 52 The Room on the Island 53 For Jean Weigl 54 And Here Goes Tess, on Nygatan Street 56 Matache Market Seen from Boston 57 Saturday with Blizzard and the Council Tower 58 Silent Tongue 60 The Biblical Garden of San Francisco 61 The Child Speaks 63 Flight Lesson at the Baltic Sea 64 Words as Gladiolas 65 Andantino 66
This is a daybook for the soul. Each poem offers the calm in which it is possible to believe again we are held from oblivion by a great sustaining, divine tenderness. Liliana Ursu has always been a magical poet. Her talismanic wild strawberries mark our paths like small offerings of prayer where we forage in our seeking not to be abandoned. Reading her poems I felt both sheltered and spiritually empowered.
Clay and Star offers a brilliant cross-section of poems across Liliana Ursu’s thirteen books, brought into English by skilled translator and poet Mihaela Moscaliuc. Moscaliuc’s translations showcase Ursu’s incredible lyricism. Ursu’s poems ‘spark’ into being, they “dig words out of silence” with spareness and deceptive simplicity. A poem will appear to be sketching a particular place or a small moment plucked from the everyday, when suddenly a shift will occur—a subtle turn of thought, a leap of image will move its register toward mystery and matters of the spirit. Always—and Moscaliuc’s translations capture this beautifully—Ursu is a poet of incandescent language, illuminating the things of this world so we may see our lives adorned.
—Shara McCallum, Madwoman
In Liliana Ursu’s Clay and Star we enter a world of nature infused with myth and magic, where stillness is “the scent of dusking fields,” and “poems spill out” of the pocket of a man “stooping under the weight of his blueberry basket;” a place where night is a “key rusting on the floor of the sea,” and footprints are “quickly erased by birds.” In the masterful hands of poet and translator Mihaela Moscaliuc, these poems infuse the air with prayers where “the ratio between joy and sorrow approaches harmony.”
—Sholeh Wolpé, Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths