Many thanks to poet Iulia Militaru for inviting me to participate in the "my writing process" blog tour. You can see her own response here.
1. What am I working on?
I have an already long history of involvement with verse narrative. I’m in the process of learning from the experience of having written a quite fat free-verse novel – among other things, I’ve been brought to ponder on the necessity of more intuitive titles, since the one I coined, Euromorphotikon, seems to have twisted minds and tongues :).
I also consider navigating in rather different thematic bays. Euromorphotikon dealt with the contemporary state of play of 1960s utopianisms, in the form of an allegorical Congress of “abundant Love” held on an imaginary Mediterranean island. Currently I’m brooding on a combination between a verse novel and a dramatic oratory that would bring together and intertwine inner monologues (oscillating between self-apology and hot intimate fantasies) of some of the historical figures that politically imposed or ideologically sponsored the instauration of Stalinist dictatorship and terror in Romania, in the 1950s. Another tentative project would be a verse novel exploring the mind of Nicolae Ceauşescu during his visit to China and North Korea in the 1970s (in the aftermath of which Romanian domestic policies took on one of the most bizarre courses among the already bizarre Soviet Block countries).
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I try to build on elements that are not ordinarily associated with poetry. Like, for instance, different clusters of the argumentative discourse – more precisely, on those moments when electric discharges of intuition get the better of logical-rhetorical patterns. This is what I experimented in my book Odes to the Free Enterprise [without mentioning that being at least half-way serious on such an object of lyrical praise should be mind-boggling for the vast majority of the poets of both hemispheres :) ].
As far as verse-narrative is concerned, what I think I’m doing is implying the expressive tension and concentration power of poetry in vividly telling a story, to a larger extent that it is usually done. I suppose that all narrative poets mean to prove their work more than a regular epic undertaking somehow arbitrarily written in uneven and discontinued instead of even and continuous lines. What I personally try to do in furthering this quest is putting the cohesive force of mythical imagination and the synthetic virtues of metaphorical expression to a better use, as far as the “imitation of action” is concerned.
In plainer words, I look for a fine tuning and walk a fine line between, say, Derek Walcott’s Omeros, where the intensity of poetic vision actually pulverizes the epic unfolding, and Les Murray’s Fredy Neptune, where the poetic aura of the narrative tends to succumb into mere rhythmical prose.
3. Why do I write what I do?
For turning uncertainty and indeterminacy into ordering principles. The concept of emergence is poorly and mechanically understood. In psychological and mental terms, it implies letting an extended order (be it as distributed, flexible, polycentric as it may – but an order nevertheless) expand from a kernel of creative doubt. Replacing the centrality of hard belief with a core of reasonable [but also infra-, para- or meta-reasonable :) ] doubt. Searching for the ordering power (or rather: virtue) of doubt. Activating the expressive potential hidden in the age-long tradition of philosophical skepticism, a potential that has been only randomly, superficially and more often than not unconsciously tackled by poetry.
4. How does your writing process work?
Caius Dobrescu – born 1966, at a still young age, around 15, became part of the Romanian underground literary scene inspired by the free experimental spirit of the counterculture of the Sixties. As a poet, he should be a disappointment for the Western mind in search of ethnic-exotic thrills. Together with Andrei Bodiu, Marius Oprea, Simona Popescu, Sorin Matei, Marius Daniel Popescu, he was part of the so-called Braşov group, developed in the eraly 80s around the influential poet and cultural critic Alexandru Musina, which had no taste for exploring the deep roots of the native Romanian spirit. On the contrary, such an archaic etno mystique, rather encouraged by the national-communist cultural policies of the local dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, was felt as totally false and revulsive. In his earlier poetry, Dobrescu explored the ,,rythms and blueses‘‘ of everyday language, simultaneously paying attention to the moral conundrums of life under the ,,real existing socialism‘‘. His work was published only after the fall of the Communist regime (Efebia/Efeby, 1994, Spălîndu-mi ciorapii/Washing my socks, 1994, Deadevă/‘ndeed, 1998). In a later phase, he tried to mingle poetry with the theoretical reflection on social change, emerging order and the complex functioning of our adaptive mind (Odă liberei întreprinderi/Ode to the free enterprise, 2009 – the German version of this volume received the Prise for European Poetry of the city of Münster, Germany, in 2009).