Asked whether too much poetry is being written today, Ion Mureşan replied that there can never be too many poets and that they are all important, no matter whether they write well or badly. Just as our bodies produce antibodies to fight an infection, a sick society produces poets – that is his theory. “The poets are white blood cells, antibodies that fight off a bad idea, corruption or a vulgar use of language.” And just as every antibody is important in surrounding and making a germ harmless, every poet is important, even if he only reads his work in his own flat in the presence of a small group of friends.
To continue in this vein, Ion Mureşan, born in Vultureni, a village near Cluj, the capital of Transylvania, on 9 January 1955, is one of the most energetic white blood cells in the disease called Romania, despite his having published only three collections of poetry in three decades – Cartea de iarnă (Winter Book, 1981), Poemul care nu poate fi inţeles (The Poem that You Can’t Understand, 1993) and Cartea Alcool (The Book of Alcohol, 2010).
With his first collection, Ion Mureşan established himself as one of the most important representatives of the ‘Eighties’ generation that opposed the aestheticism and escapism of their immediate predecessors. “‘Eightyism’”, he explains, “brought about a powerful hold on reality. The vocabulary changed and words emerged in our poems, such as ‘petrol’, ‘asphalt’, ‘diesel’ and ‘cistern’. It turned the vocabulary upside down and I think we were viewed as trouble-makers, because of that relation with reality.”
No matter how much his poetry is involved with reality, however, it doesn’t offer any directly recognisable picture. Mureşan is an unconditional advocate of metaphors, which means that in next to no time we end up in a hallucinatory world. “Poetry is a journey,” the poet explains. “The whole world is a harmony of invisible connections. If you move your little finger on the Earth, something moves on Sirius. If you move something in poetry in the phrase ‘little finger’, something moves in the word ‘Sirius’ and, for that matter, in every word. Poetry links two realities, two words, two things that have nothing to do with each other. What connection is there between ‘lighthouse’ and ‘cherry tree’? Yet poetry succeeds in making this extraordinary journey between ‘lighthouse’ and ‘cherry tree’. It is a top-speed journey. It’s as though you’ve gone there by plane. You save time and you save life. And your reward is a marvellous journey between two very divergent realities.”
Although his work has a confessional character, Ion Mureşan adds that his own life doesn’t make much of an appearance in his poems, and then only fragmentarily – “I always try and write in the name of my neighbours.”
Cartea de iarnă, Ed. Cartea Românească, Bucharest, 1981
Poemul care nu poate fi înțeles, Editura Arhipelag, Tîrgul-Mureș, 1993
Cartea Alcool, Charmides, Bistrita, 2010
(into English) 20 Romanian Writers (trs. by Alistair Ian Blyth), Institut Cultural Roman, Bucharest, 2007
(into French) Le mouvement sans cœur de l’image (trs. by Olivier Apert and Ed Pastenague), Éditions Belin, Paris, 2001
(into German) Zugang verboten! (trs. by Ernest Wichner), büro abrasch, Vienna, 2008