Radu Vancu

    is a Romanian poet, scholar and translator. He teaches literature at the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu and is an editor of the Poesis International magazine. He is also the coordinating editor of the literary section of the Timpul magazine, and national editor of the Romanian section for the Poetry International website. He has published seven books of poetry, and has been awarded several prizes, both national and international. He has also published a children’s novella, and translated novels and poetry by authors such as John Berryman and W.B. Yeats; as well as the on-going four-volume collection of writings by Ezra Pound. He has been a leading figure in the anti-corruption protests in Romania in recent years, which included a Reading Protest on February 12th 2017: “Some 200 to 300 people gathered in the main square in Sibiu and quietly sat on benches or directly on the ground and read from Thoreau, for example, from On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, or from the Bible, or from Jean-Claude Carrière’s The Circle of Liars—the liars being the government and so on—so it’s also very effective, it’s so powerful to see these young people—not only young people were there, but they were the majority—using reading as a political tool against the corrupt government. […] Everybody can get a book and go to a square and read, without even shouting, but showing us a protest against this governmental abuse. I totally think that this is the way citizens in a normal democracy, or in a democracy which tries to recover, should react. They cannot take away from us this taste of the rebellion, of public disobedience. Once we get started, it’s very difficult for the government to pretend that we are not there. Everybody sees that the public square is flooded with people playing intelligent games, using their phones—using the phones’ flashlights to create an illuminated mass of people, both physically and symbolically—so, I think it’s the most effective way of making governments step down. […] So, even when the government doesn’t want to react, going there in the streets and protesting—by reading, tweeting, writing on Facebook, dancing, playing the guitar, doing a play, for example—it always works. It is the force of art, actually. I mean, seeing so many people gathered in a square is like living a fiction, it’s living a fairy tale. You think when you’re alone, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a million people gathered in a square and singing against the government—and it happens! And, all of a sudden, the government realizes the force of this realized fiction and steps back. It’s like a huge poem made of a million lines, each person being a line. No government can resist against such a huge poem. It’s like trying to resist against The Iliad or The Odyssey. You have no chance. So, it is absolutely applicable in every part of the world, yes.”
    Photo: Helici Rares Photography