“Prose poems are, to me, the most adequate form of expression. That’s how I can tell stories about myself, about the others – be they familiar or simply anonymous – because each and every one is akin to a living chronicle, if I may say so. A simple story, sketched with utmost naïveté, can perfectly capture the poetry of the world we live in.”
Born 24 December 1968, in Bucharest, Doina Ioanid has published five volumes of verse to date, consisting without exception of prose poems ranging from one to twenty-five lines. In the interview quoted above she goes on to describe poetry as “a late-blooming love. As a child I was terribly fond of fairy tales, stories, adventure novels. I liked Chinese tales most, presumably because of the fascinating mixture of the quotidian and the fabulous.” That mixture is to be found again and again in her poems with the small difference that the fabulous is here making room for highly disturbing dream-like scenes.
In the nineties she was a member of Mircea Cărtărescu’s writers’ workshop Litere, associated with the University of Bucharest, where she studied French language and literature. The texts she wrote at the time were published in the collective volume Ferestre (Windows, 1998) alongside those of other up-and-coming poets issuing from the Litere writers’ workshop, such as Marius Ianuş, Ioana Nicolaie and Cecilia Ştefănescu, all of them reputed representatives of the “generation 2000”. Doina Ioanid, nonetheless, is reluctant to be regimented within any particular generation – “if there’s anything I’ve got to say, I can just as well say it on my own,” she claims.
Her first volume, Duduca de marţipan (The Marzipan Damsel) came out in the year 2000, to be followed by four further volumes: E vremea să porţi cercei (It’s High Time You Wore Earrings, 2001), Cartea burţilor și a singurătăţii (The Book of Bellies and Solitude, 2003), Poeme de trecere (Poems of Passage, 2005) and Ritmuri de îmblânzit aricioaica (Drumbeats for Taming The Hedgehog Sow, 2010).
Each new volume appears to be a further chapter of a novel in progress. A certain number of her “relatives” keep turning up throughout the five volumes – her grandparents, her mother, or her sister Mary; these recurring characters imbue her work with remarkable coherence. Furthermore, each volume reiterates the syntagm “the woman at . . . [one age or another]”, by means of which Doina Ioanid outlines, diary-like, the different stations of her life. Autobiographical data are interspersed with surreal images derived from the “immediate unreality” (to borrow a phrase coined by Max Blecher, author of the now classic novel Events in The Immediate Unreality. It’s this juxtaposition of alternately banal and unreal elements that generates a feeling of absolute strangeness and originality throughout the author’s prose poems.
Since 2005, Doina Ioanid has been working as senior editor for The Cultural Observer, a leading Romanian cultural weekly.
Duduca de marţipan (The Marzipan Damsel), 2000
E vremea să porţi cercei (It’s High Time You Wore Earrings), 2001
Cartea burţilor și a singurătăţii (The Book of Bellies and Solitude), 2003
Poeme de trecere (Poems of Passage), 2005
Ritmuri de îmblânzit aricioaica (Drumbeats for Taming The Hedgehog Sow), 2010