We were standing up the hill near the Premier Cruz and a Frenchman was overlooking the valley. In his school English and our school French we began a conversation. He described how his grandfather tilled the valley below with horse and furrow until he began to look like son cheval. We laughed and then he said, pointing “Il reste”. And that was when my French utterly failed me. How could I tell him that somewhere near Ypres my grandfather and his brother-in-law also rested in French soil, their names written on walls in France and in Canberra. I have never worried for their remains. Safe in French soil just like the vigneron who plied his horse.
Romanian speaking writers associated with New Writers Group inc (Parramatta) have kindly mentioned the support received from other Sydney creatives (who speak/read no Romanian) and the obvious fact to me is that the gratitude should flow as much if not more in the other direction. There is nothing quite like a keen bi-lingual or multi-lingual writer to freshen up some concepts of what is literature and in how many languages and continents it can be shared. How do writers who develop their “voices” in one language move the authenticity (a loaded word) of those voices into another language? Well, on Friday evening, 27th March 2015, some answers were presented. Our gracious host, Mrs Oriana Acevedo, Multicultural Consultant, NSW State Library, opened the launch of two bi-lingual poetry anthologies, one by Mihaela Cristescu the other by Loredana Tudor Tomescu. The setting was the historic Dixson Room of the LIbrary’s Mitchell Wing. The Consul General of Romania in Sydney, Floricel Mocanu, attended; Mady Slabascu and Catalin Anastase performed readings brilliantly in both Romanian and English; and Sue Chamoun supplied Lebanese delicacies at supper. Above all, I’m reminded how close language is to music. Here are some visual highlights: