(Ed note: This is th final post in a four-part series about the Transylvania Poetry Festival. You can find yesterday's post here.
The Party’s (Almost) Over
But Transylvania wasn’t quite done with me. The next day, keeping their promise, Radu and Dragos took Tara and me to Targu Jiu to see the great Brancusi war memorial—a four-hour drive on some badly paved roads through some breathtaking mountain scenery. Radu and Dragos kept us in stitches. These old friends and colleagues, serious poet and critical thinker, turned into Click and Clack, the hilarious Magliozzi brothers on National Public Radio’s Car Talk. The jokes—few of them polite—never let up. Whatever tensions they must have felt running the festival dissolved into continuous gales of laughter.
Radu was particularly knowledgeable about Brancusi. We started at the Endless Column, the tower from which the souls of the dead soldiers ascend to heaven.
It was drizzling, but somehow the overcast weather seemed appropriate. Then we drove for about a mile to the other end of town, where the axis of the complex monument actually begins, at the River Jiu, in a park, with Table of Silence, where the slain victims rest:
This is one of the greatest and most moving modern public monuments in the Western world. No wonder Radu was determined that we see it.
The next day, the rain was heavier, but since the art museum was closed, Radu took us to an extraordinary park in a forest just outside Sibiu: the ASTRA Museum of Folkloric Traditional Civilization. Stretched out over ten kilometers, it’s a series of actual medieval houses (some with thatched or grass roofs), churches, farms, and other workplaces—mills, stables, smithies—from rural Romanian villages, all rebuilt on this site—the largest park of its kind in the world.
After the festival, Tara moved into the more central hotel before her Fulbright took her to the city of Brasov to teach. That evening, we had an elegant, quiet dinner together at Kulinarium, a restaurant in the small square noted for its use of local ingredients. Next morning, at 4:00 AM, Tara came down to the lobby to wish me a safe journey, bringing bags of potato chips for me to nibble in the airport. Soon Radu and Dragos arrived to pick me up, with hugs and smiles, and return me to the world of airports, long flights (and longer layovers), to face a week of neglected deadlines and to tire my friends with stories about Romania: about good poets and good poems and new friends—and how eager I am to go back.
-- Lloyd Schwartz