Dan Sociu

The beaten woman

staring out of the window
on the eighth floor
the beaten woman
staring out of the window
on the first floor:

the former is pitied
only by lost,
hungry seagulls.

© 2012 Dan Sociu, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Dan Sociu with Michael Nita

Author Biography

Dan Sociu was born in Botosani in the north of Romania on May 20, 1978. One of the major young poets of his "generation of 2000," he is the foremost representative of the movement of post-millennium, post-communist poets and fiction writers call "miserabilism." These writers share and anti-lyrical, anti-heroic, quasi-biographical take on actuality beginning with (and in resistance to) its most dispiriting banalities. Sociu's first book, jars well-sealed, money for another week, came out in 2002 and was recognized by the National Prize for Poetry "Mihai Eminescu" debut award and the Romanian-Canadian Prize "Ronald Gasparic." In 2004, brother louse appeared; it was reprinted in 2007. In 2005, eXcessive songs (the full text is presented here as Mouths Dry with Hatred, a title change approved by the author) was published and won the Romanian Writers' Union Prize for best poetry book of the year, the first time a non-member was nominated for this major prize. In 2007, Sociu co-authored Romanian erotica, and in 2008, his first novel, Urbancolia, was published to acclaim; a section from the book was included in the 2009 Words without Borders anthology, The Wall in My Head: Words and Images from the Fall of the Iron Curtain (Open Letter/University of Rochester). A second novel, Special Needs, also appeared in 2008. In 2011, Sociu published a new collection of poems, Pavor nocturnus. Sociu has translated into Romanian a selection from Charles Bukowski, a poet whom he has acknowledged influenced him, and recently he has published translations of the poetry of Seamus Heaney and e.e. cummings as well as novels by Jack Kerouac and Aleksandar Hemon.

Translations of Sociu's poems appeared in the 2001 anthology of young, maverick writers of the city of Iasi in the northeast of Romania, Club 8: Poems, edited and translated by Adam J. Sorkin with Radu Andriescu; in David Morley and Leonard-Daniel Aldea's anthology No Longer Poetry (Heaventree Press, 2007); and, as one of nine Romanian writers, in the 2008 Graywolf anthology, New European Poets. In 2011, a group of his poems was included in The Vanishing Point That Whistles: An Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry, ed. Paul Doru Mugur, Adam J. Sorkin, and Claudia Serea (Talisman House, Publishers). Sociu worked until mid-2008 for the venerable Romanian Book Publishing House in Bucharest, now a subsidiary of Polirom Publishers. He left to accept a residency at Akademic Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany, but after returning to Bucharest, where he lives, he has continued to do freelance translations for Polirom. In May 2008, he read as part of PEN World Voices, New York; in November 2009, he also read there at a book launch of The Wall in My Head; and in spring 2010, he was awarded a grant to Ledig House International Writers Residency in Omi, New York. Currently, he works for the eco-oriented Website totb.ro ("Think Outside the Box"), associated with the WWF (Word Wildlife Fund).

Mouths Dry with Hatred is Dan Sociu's first book to appear in English.

Critical Response

"Dan Sociu's Mouths Dry with Hatred is a virtuoso in verse, addressing the tensions arising from politics, the bureaucracy of government, fatherhood, and the domestic life of Romania. His poems are Bukowski-esque in their formal gestures—beautiful odes to all that is right. Compassionate, perceptive, and continually surprising, Dan Sociu's poems are full of gusto and passino, written by a poet for whom poetry matters."

—Denise Duhamel

"At a grim moment in a brutish world, Dan Sociu's ambitious debut collection in English affirms that 'freedom,' too, might be a dirty word, but he proclaims it without end. However gross and depressing the conditions, let them challenge his idealistic yet neo-classical spirit all they want, he laughs and cries. He exposes their corruption with poetry and, in Adam Sorkin's English translations, the language of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

—Charles Cantalupo

"Hallucinatory moments, disillusionment, the real and the imaginary, dreams and the everyday grotesque, transcribed exactly, minutely, but without diminishing the flow of emotion, make Dan Sociu a complex poet who can be trusted."

—Constantin Abaluta

©2012 Longleaf Press at Methodist University | Fayetteville, NC