A Sense of Place
Bporcel la novella de la vida11
Sorescu censored poems1
Sorescu gedichte11
Los argonautas porcel111
Florenta albu buch1
Transcript would like to dedicate this issue to writers who, like Romania's Sanda Stolojan and Ion Caraion, have, through the act of writing, upheld human dignity in the face of violence.

by Diarmuid Johnson.

'When the almonds flower, there is an acute sense of the passing of time,' writes Baltasar Porcel of Majorca. Still acuter is the sense of place we gather from his book The Enchanted Isles. In these pages, Transcript introduces several writers whose sense of place, like Porcel's, is profound, and whose writing is, among other things, a celebration of place.

One such writer is Mikael Niemi. At the heart of Niemi's endeavours is an effort to ensure a bright future for his native Tornedalen in northern Scandinavia on the Swedish-Finnish border. The success of his book Popular Music from Vittula has seen increased numbers of visitors to Tornedalen, accompanied by a growing sense of pride in the speech and culture of the place.

Another writer whose work is enriched by a sense of place is Angharad Price of Wales. Encouraged by the success of O! tyn y gorchudd (Lift the Veil), her second novel, Price, in a recent short story, written as part of the Scritture Giovani project, describes the last of the pilots on the Menai Straits between her native Caernarfon and the adjacent island of Anglesey, north Wales.

While place may be a source of stability for many, for others it becomes synonymous with exile. Rubén Palma of Chile, who now lives in Denmark, contributed to the Literature Across Frontiers recent debate in Helsinki on national literatures and spoke of his 'step-tongue', Danish, in which he now writes (see LAF in Helsinki): '...immigrant literature can enrich national literary landscapes,' he argues.

Exile, as for Rubén Palma, can mean the adoption of a second home. For many Romanian writers however, exile in recent decades has spelt despair. The exile hopes to set foot on his native soil again. But how can he/she return when a place has been utterly destroyed? Hearing of the demolition, on Ceausescu's orders, of the Vacaresti Monastery, in Bucharest, on May 27th 1987, Sanda Stolojan wrestles with the implications of the rape of her country by a regime claiming to govern it. 'It is chilling to think how utterly we are attached to the church, the houses and streets which no longer exist. The assassin who bulldozes our sacred places imposes a total death which empties the living of the very dregs of memory'.

The poem 'Alone in the World' by Romanian poet Ion Caraion (1923-1986) echoes a life not only of exile but of alienation. Caraion spent eleven years a prisoner in the copper mines of Cavnic and Baia Sprie. In 1981 he was granted political asylum in Switzerland where he died in isolation.

Writing for Ion Caraion was a statement of dignity in a world which denied him such. Transcript would like to dedicate this modest issue to writers who, like Romania's Sanda Stolojan and Ion Caraion, have, in the act of writing, upheld human dignity in the face of violence.

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