PORTLAND, OR; February 15, 2022— In this new collection of prose poems, Claudia Serea uses surrealism, irony, and humor to express her experiences, from growing up behind the Iron Curtain to immigrating to New York City. The first section of the book, “There Were No Magic Beans,” recalls her childhood in Romania under Nicolae Ceaușescu’s rule, a world in which terror mixes with fairy tales, nightmares, and dreams. The second section, “The Keepers of Moon Keys,” introduces a cast of peculiar characters, including folk tale protagonists, witches, ghosts, a collector of clouds, a bone music maker, a man who paints the time, and the Lord of Meanwhile. In “Dark Calligraphy,” the poet conjures history, remembering war and oppression through the eyes of a child. The reader is guided by a little girl and a museum custodian through the great traumas of recent history. In the last section of the book, “The Russian Hat,” Serea transports the reader into a metropolis as strange as the past she carries with her, to the “museum of our lives,” where “we are the curators, the visitors, and the paintings that paint themselves.” This astonishing place vaguely resembles New York City distorted by memories and dreams, but it might as well be Las Vegas where “what happens in the poem stays in the poem.” In this collection, Serea’s readers win “pound after pound of shiny poems,” the magical beans they will use to escape again and again, discovering hidden meanings with surprise and delight in each new reading.
About Claudia Serea
Claudia Serea’s poems and translations have been published in Field, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, Notre Dame Review, The Malahat Review, The Puritan, Oxford Poetry, Asymptote, and elsewhere. She is the author of five other poetry collections and four chapbooks, most recently Twoxism, a collaboration with visual artist Maria Haro (8th House Publishing, 2018). Serea’s poem My Father’s Quiet Friends in Prison, 1958-1962 received the New Letters Readers Award. She won the Levure Littéraire Award for Poetry Performance, and she was featured in the documentary Poetry of Witness (2015). Serea’s poems have been translated in French, Italian, Russian, Arabic, and Farsi, and have been featured in The Writer’s Almanac. Her collection of selected poems translated into Arabic, Tonight I’ll Become a Lake into which You’ll Sink, was published in Cairo, Egypt, in 2021. Serea is a founding editor of National Translation Month, and she co-hosts The Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Readings in Rutherford, NJ.
Praise for WRITING ON THE WALLS AT NIGHT
"Claudia Serea’s world is as available to the senses as words can make it. Wheat, cement, earth, cities, and poppies pass through these poems steadily and true: you can trust them. This memoir is built on the unsparing consistency of Serea’s gaze. A loving gaze. Stop anywhere in this book, it will be a real place."
—Andrei Codrescu, author of No Time Like Now (Pitt Series, 2016)
"Writing on the Walls at Night deserves to be marveled at. Whether describing the personal or the political, the magical or the real, the bitter or the sweet, Claudia Serea evinces a poetic sensibility that is achingly empathetic and thoroughly authentic. There is not a false note in the entire collection. Indeed, these prose poems are among the most sincere, inventive, and moving being written today."
—Howie Good, author of Famous Long Ago
"When I say Claudia Serea’s collection is fabulous, I’m using “fabulous” in the Latinate sense of fabula—“known through fable.” These fabulous prose poems conjure the best of fairy and folk tales:
This is the night when the girls wash their faces with dew, and watch how the gates of the world open, and the spirits let them see their future.
We used to tie our rowboats to the lamp posts, and they floated all night next to our windows, waiting for us to jump in.
These are the stories that saucer-eyed audiences gather to hear a poet-witch tell—in deep blue-green forests, under rainbows. These are the yarns our ancestresses spun on cold winter nights when the harvest was done. When I read these fabulae, I’m transported to that place where light weaves the goddesses' dresses of gold. This is a magic book."
—Sharon Mesmer, author of Greetings From My Girlie Leisure Place (Bloof Books), professor of creative writing at NYU and the New School
"Claudia Serea faces war with a poet’s heart. The explosions are green and they happen in spring /. . .trees shoot up bullet-shaped buds . . . / The magnolia amasses fat grenades . . . Yet in spite all of the violence of Revolution and genocide, there is beauty and power on every page. Like the statues of Lenin that were turned into something useful: wheelbarrows, / shovels, and spades for digging up the past, Serea transforms history into dark fairy tale, into survival, into pages that all of us should read and treasure."
—Shaindel Beers, author of Secure Your Own Mask, Finalist for the Oregon Book Award
About Unsolicited Press
Unsolicited Press was founded in 2012 and is based in Portland, OR. The press strives to produce exceptional works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from award-winning authors. Learn more at www.unsolicitedpress.com.
WRITING ON THE WALLS AT NIGHT is available on February 15, 2022 as a paperback (178 p.; 978-1-956692-01-3) and e-book (all major retailers). The title is distributed to the trade by Ingram.
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