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Rezonante - "Praying for an Immigrant God" by Diana Manole

On September 8th took place, at the Romanian Consulate in Toronto, in the presence of the Consuls, the launch of Diana Manole's book, "Praying for an Immigrant God"/"Rugandu-ma la un Dumnezeu Imigrant".
SPEAKERS to the event: :
· Madame Consul Oana Raluca Gherghe (Romanian Consulate)
· Jordan Fry (Grey Borders Books)
· Dr. Crina Bud (Glendon College)
· Milena Munteanu (writer & Journalist)
READERS of “Deflowering Other People’s Languages”
· Tania Samsonova (Russian, translator)
· Anabelle Aguilar Brealey (Spanish)
· Sheida Shahramian (Persian)
Diana Manole, a poet, writer and scholar alike, asks some important questions about immigration in this truly original and bold multi-lingual poetry book.
What a dense set of experiences, from her screams for help to her incessant need for warmth, what a spectrum of nuanced and pertinent observations, providing both insights and unprecedented perspectives!
Diana’s book starts with a prayer, a call for help and a call for forgiveness. She sees herself as an
“immigration’s metaphor,
my arms around my knees
and a dumb smile”.
Her dreams and nightmares seem to overlap, sometimes taking each other’s place…
During her first night in her adopting country:
“Mould. Sewage pouring down the walls.
A neon light flickers mockingly.
I, immigration’s metaphor,
my arms around my knees
and a dumb smile.
Yes: “The doors are locked but I still try to open them.”
I know: “No one can hear me!”
But I keep on shouting
until my vocal chords snap like the strings of a guitar
a three-year old is slamming against the living room furniture.”
The volume seems to have a few leitmotifs. The same cry for help is later expressed as a:
“… senseless wailing [that] comes out of my mouth
like the muffled weeping of an old cemetery over which
people built one house after another.”
“I curl into a ball and fall asleep on the rocks
while the indifferent sea keeps murmuring
as if chatting with the sky. “
Multilingualism starts with bilingual dreaming, as well as laughing and crying:
“it’s three in the morning and my friends from back home
are laughing or crying in their sleep
in their mother tongue.
Yes: “Dreaming in two languages is like turning the other cheek before anyone slaps you.”
And then the first snow, the first Christmas away from home. New realities and discoveries mix with memory flashbacks. Surprising and memorable metaphors in an abrupt ending:
‘Instead of an Ending
Pregnant words roll over on the tip
of my tongue
making me anxious with waiting”
or some reflective moments: “The twentieth century is hardest for teaching history of any kind.“
One can find reflections on imperialism or slavery, or “penance for the world’s sins”
We see a continuous search for self
“This is me,” I scream,
abandoning myself
to a purification ritual I don’t understand,
suspended over the black hole
the universe has been trying to crawl back into
for trillions of millennia”
We find delightful poetry:
“Thank you for this moment of peace and quiet,”
you say
and your hand slides down my thighs
longing for a cross to crucify me on
in slow motion,
reinventing religions, rewriting
world history. “
or, the definition of
“A Canadian-style embrace –
English whispers avec French kisses
in the dead of winter
at the imaginary crossroad of Water & George
in Peterborough
where parallel lines meet once a year.
“Love is unpredictable even when translated!”
you scold me one last time. “
Diana’s book is an invitation to symbiotic communication, although we each translate our own hopes and worries in our mother tongue. It seems that a masterful translation is one that finds the same vocabulary for our common needs.
Rich poetic sensibility, displaying loads or originality, combined with an astute sense of observation makes Diana the poet she is: intriguing, revealing, enlightening. A writer who cannot be ignored, as she voices some of the common struggles and collective worries of our generation of immigrants. Also, common hopes. Her writing transcends the Romanian community, as it clearly talks to other cultures who find themselves at home in her poetry.
A cry for basic needs like security as well as hope for warmth and protection:
“Warm, womb-like hollows open
in the trees suddenly growing
among the seats.”
Diana is a powerhouse. I always knew she is an inspired and promising poet, but nothing prepared me for the discovery of the dense set of experiences covered in this volume, a travel to the immigrant God and back, to this new understanding of the human nature.

Milena Munteanu
Sept 08, 2023

Milena Munteanu    9/11/2023


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