Marin Sorescu

Marin Sorescu, a poet, dramatist, and Romania’s former minister of culture, was born in Bulzești, a commune of Dolj County in Oltenia, a southwestern province of Romania, in 1936. Sorescu was the fifth child born into a poor family. He graduated from Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași in 1960 with a degree in philology. 

Sorescu published his first poetry collection Singur printre poeti [Alone Among Poets] (Brosata) in 1964, though several obituaries have misprinted the publication date as 1954. The debut was a collection of parodies that poked fun at clichés in poetry. His second collection Poeme [Poems] (Editura Pentru Literatura, 1965) focused on ethical matters but also contained the parodic elements of the previous work. For his next book, Mortea ceasului [The Death of the Clock] (Editura Tineretului, 1966), Sorescu developed a novel poetic language while also confronting questions about human existence. In this collection, he also asserted an artistic ethics that refused to compromise with political authority.

Sorescu published more than a dozen additional volumes of poetry from the late 1960s to the early 1990s, including Poeszii alese de cenzură [Censored Poems] (Editura Rosa Vînturilor, 1991); Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 1983), translated by Michael Hamburger; Fîntîni în mare [Fountains in the Sea] (Editura Eminescu, 1982); Symmetries (Hounslow Press, 1982), translated by John Robert Colombo and Petronela Negoșanu; Unghi  [Angle] (Editura Cartea Românească, 1970); the three-volume series La lilieci [On the Lilac Bush] (Editura Eminescu), released in 1973, 1977, and 1980, respectively; and Tineretea lui Don Quijote [Don Quixote’s Tender Years, or The Youth of Don Quixote] (Editura Tineretului, 1968). 

Sorescu also published four children’s books and was a notable playwright. He published his first plays, translated as Jonah, The Verger, and The Matrix, or The Second Deluge, between 1968 and 1973, then released them as a trilogy in the collection The Thirst of the Salt Mountain (Forest, 1985), translated into English by Andrea Deletant and Brenda Waller. One of his most notable plays, rul Shakespeare [Cousin Shakespeare], was about the oppressive dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu. 

Sorescu received various international honors during his literary career, including the 1974 drama prize awarded by the Writers’ Union of Romania and the 1978 “Le Muse” prize awarded by the Accademia Internazionale in Florence. In December of 1983, shortly after becoming a member of the Académie Mallarmé in France, Sorescu received the Fernando Riello International Poetry Prize in Madrid. 

Sorescu started his literary career as an editor of literary journals, and soon thereafter became the editor-in-chief of the literary magazine Ramuri, in addition to working at the Bucharest-based film studio Animafilm. He then worked for a period as a freelance writer. From 1993 to 1995, Sorescu served as Romania’s minister of culture as part of the government of Nicolae Văcăroiu. 

Marin Sorescu died in Bucharest on December 8, 1996, shortly after the end of his tenure in government.