Reflections of the “Old Country” | Review of “Romanian Suite” by Kenneth Radu (1996) Brick Books

Many of us have those “stories from the old country” lodged in our memories that our family has instilled in us. They are brilliant flashes of thoughts and recollections that come to us from time to time when certain situation occur. Kenneth Radu has collected some of those memories and thoughts in his collection of poetry called Romanian Suite which is a brilliant read.


Page 13 The Gardener  (except)

My grandfather sat outside

under a white moon, dust ringing

his eyes and locust larvae glowing

in the devastated fields.

He played the pipe still,

remembered the old village

and told stories to his new wife

and their children, which passed

like a song from their mouth to mine.

In my garden I plant pumpkins

more for aesthetics than nutrition,

take time from the piano to dig deep.

Radu has been on my ‘to-read’ list for a while and I am sorry that it is just now I discovered his work. His words are brilliant and literary thought-provoking. The mind’s eye clearly sees the images he creates.

Page 41 – ii: I dream of desert places (excerpt)

I dream of desert places where the wind

does not blow and the sun is white, the sky

unclouded blue and the sand does not shift

beneath my bare feet:

the space we enter when music dies.

Radu also is able to give a history lesson and deliver emotion through his words – a rare combination. The mind’s eye is enlightened through these words.

Page 57 The Gardener Attends a Piano Recital at Place des Art (Excerpt)

His hair romantically long, fingers light, interpretation full as the wind; beside, behind, in front of me, I hear French, appreciative comments of this Romanian artist who does not live where Roman legions once impressed their tongue. His first name my last and his last, Lupu, is the name of the wolf, after silent creatures who eat partridges in the snow, who breathe like spirits peering through pine boughs, and in their secret places pass on the stories of legendary wolves.

Romanian Suite by Kenneth Radu is a well-crafted collection of poetry. The imagery clearly comes through to the mind’s eye and it is a great read.

Link to Brick Books page for “Romanian Suite”



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