A Novel The Librarian of Hell (excerpts) by Constantin Severin
English version by Constantin Severin
Motto: “Double is the birth of mortal things, double their death…’’ (Empedocles of Agrigento)
Looking into the distance, scrutinizing with a deep heart any movement on the Romanian or Serbian shores, was a daily exercise on Ada Kaleh. That’s probably why only islanders and a few insiders really know how to look chimeras in the face. In relation to the invisible, the common man has the blind eye of the snail, distinguishes the incomprehensible things only by the intensity of the light and orients himself by the smell. But now, all I keep in my deep being is the taste of time on Ada Kaleh, time that is measured, as everywhere, in illusions, disappointments, passions that pass or last, regrets for an ever-present past, fear or hope for the future, the time of all, in which we feel that we are all aging, confused and helpless. Time on Ada Kaleh… or Ada’s time was something magical, suspended in that mixture of common time and lasting moments, time as a story of time. On Ada’s thin body you could feel the moments much more present, as long as the peace of the field, you could perceive their natural continuity and you suddenly understood Time, in its duality, as a teenage enlightenment that meets Him one evening on the street, at a corner, God, for a loooooooong moment, and then seeks during a life, in the memory of that one vision, without ever being able to find Him again in monasteries, or meditations or drunkenness, or poetry or asceticism. Memory belongs to the past, and the moment belongs to life. Ada Kaleh was one of those magical spaces, where Nature sometimes lets you intuit the existence of the moment, the existence of life as the alchemy of the moment, understanding without the help of judgment, smoothly, like a death in the sleep of a beautiful dream.
I signed up for Facebook, dear Nini (that’s how my relatives in Australia also carress me, after Giovannini ), just hoping that one day you will look for me, but I didn’t think it would take so long, only in 2010 we started to communicate, a few months after the death of your mother, whom I met in Ada Kaleh, in 1962. You were then 10 years old, the first image I keep of you is the moment when you were on your knees in the mosque on the island. The astonishment in your big, deep eyes, with iridescence of raw green, flowed in imperceptible waves, in the penumbra of that space of silence, and when we all went out, I caressed the golden loops of your hair, breathed by a sweet wind, humed with flowery lilac scent. It was as if the lilac forest in your homeland was floating above us. I was then 277 years old, of which 245 spent in the underground, book-filled heart of the island. Almost half of my long life, I was not what people saw and knew about me, my true face was a fleeting self, which rarely appeared, even in my feelings, in a few privileged but fleeting moments, as if reminding me we are always only partially inhabited by ourselves. It took me 150 years to reach the status of becoming the welcoming home of a unique and permanent self. And I don’t even know if I would have ever touched it, if I hadn’t spent most of my life in special conditions. I learned on my own skin that if you live for tens or hundreds of years in semi-darkness, in obscurity, your vital functions and consciousness change, so dramatically that you have the acute feeling that you no longer belong to any human race. Not to mention that the hierarchy of the senses changes completely, after the underground experience my first sense became the smell, even the memories of long ago, about a city or a girlfriend, are embodied in my mind first as olfactory sensations. Almost as developed is the sense of touch, which at times supplemented even the sight, everything I touched in the dark turned into clear, intensely contoured and colorful images, which invaded my being like a firework. And my taste has a much wider spectrum than before the exile in the interstices of the island, probably comprising flavors unknown to any other earthling, in proportion to the infinite sweetness and aromas of Ada Kaleh. A jam of roses or figs, enjoyed in the quiet of the underground library, had thousands of shades on the flaps of my taste buds, turning the tasting ritual into a veritable symphony. “Rainbow on the roof of the mouth”, as another Romanian friend, Radu Gălăţan, told me over a glass…
Although I was born in Naples on February 11, 1685 (in the same year as my former neighbor and friend, the composer and organist Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti), the place where, from the foam of the sea, Music was born (it is not known who said this first time, but it has become a commonplace of Neapolitan pride!), I now like to say that my true birth took place much later, on the island of Ada Kaleh. The real birthplace is where you first took a penetrating look at yourself: my first homelands were the books, Marguerite Yourcenar wrote so profoundly in Hadrian’s Memoirs. My family, Esposito, was marked by the bel canto century, my grandparents were part of the choir of the royal chapel and my father, Vincenzo, was a harpsichord master, also appreciated by Alessandro Scarlatti. Esposito means exposed, abandoned, and it seems that our family had an abandoned child as their ancestor, given up for adoption, and perhaps this gave us the strength to face the plagues of fate. Although my destiny seemed to have an auspicious start, I was part of a respected family without worrying about tommorrow, the first events that marked me, at the age of five, were terrible: then, in 1690, the city of Naples seemed a periphery of Hell, haunted by long rows of dead, being devastated by both a great earthquake and an epidemic of plague and a new eruption of Mount Vesuvius, on our street the fences of houses gradually disappeared, and the planks were transformed overnight in coffins. So the first, most vivid memory of my childhood seems to me to be the most important: a five-year-old boy with his eyes fixed on the horizon to see the huge flames and black smoke rising into the sky, a quick swirl on the sea on huge surfaces, to my question “what’s going on” I only hear my father’s laconic answer, “the world caught fire”, I thought how sad it was that the world caught fire, then I continued to play with my sister Ariadna, as if I knew from then on that although I belong to this world, I am not part of it at the same time and I am free from any worldly danger. However, for my family, the balance was tragic: two older brothers reaped by the black death and half of our house destroyed by the earthquake. Death, suffering, and despair were the hallmarks of my early childhood, but through music we quickly found hope, joy, and confidence. It was the period when Neapolitan music, warm, insinuating and captivating was the main catalyst of existence and creative energies, probably then began to circulate our famous saying, “stars and songs can not be counted.” On Strada di Toledo, where we lived, in addition to us and the Scarlatti family, there were seven more houses whose inhabitants lived solely on music, from composers and teachers to itinerant singers. We all lived in a kind of sweet exaltation and frenzy, maybe that’s why I didn’t feel too acutely the dirt on the streets, the sometimes pestilential smells caused by the lack of hygiene, specific to those times. Young or old with mandolins, castanets and tambourines could be found on every street corner, and the sounds blowed from morning to evening, especially in the port area, among palm trees, orchards with oranges, cacti, jasmine and ruby roses, circular fountains and brightly colored houses, or in the nearby islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida.
Although I will turn 334 next month, so I had time to leisurely read tons of volumes and manuscripts, my culture is still fragmentary and incomplete, but all I want is for my heart to remain whole. I gradually found out, what matters to an intellectual is his essence, not his erudition, and it feeds on music, tenderness, love, beauty, flowers, art, harmony. At first I read to know and understand, now I read only to feed myself with bella espressione. Reading as a work of art. In this way you discover with amazement that such an occupation slows down the inner time, and you remain a young and sensitive man, while negative emotions, violence and hatred accelerate it and the man suddenly ages. A work is valuable if it transforms you, changes your ideas, sensations and even sensitivity, makes you love more intensely. The taste of leisurely tasting such a text is unmatched, I like to discover the technique of chiaroscuro in writing, that by which you progressively bring the meaning of a word from one side to the greatest clarity, from the other side to the most accentuated obscurity. You have to identify with what you love, create and think, thinking is an endless series of temporary identities. Only after thoroughly studying Bruno, Ficino and Pico, the three magicians of the Renaissance, who certainly had access at the same time to the secret structures of the space-time world and the timeless horizon, did I realize that bella espressione in art , literature and philosophy can be mastered only by an almost superhuman attempt to juxtapose the profane with the sacred, to reach that comforting and feverish consonance between the noise of footsteps and the sacred flight, so visible, for example, in Caravaggio’s art, and which it procures intense and uplifting emotions and cleanses us from negative ones. Unfortunately, for over 50 years, the art and literature of the world has been dominated by the tendency to unify the mundane with the luciferic areas of the timeless matrix, which accentuates the feeling of alienation and commodification of the human being. However, an amplification of violence and attraction to telluric has been felt since the seventeenth century, when I was born, by imposing that ontologically harmful formula, “the man-master of nature”.
My intellectual adventure seems to be guarded by Monte Somma, the mountain near Nola, an old Etruscan center, not too far from Naples, the one always disputed by the Spaniards and Austrians. The inhabitants of the area are hardy, dynamic, vertical and human people, a kind of erupting volcanoes, probably due to an incendiary mixture, over time, of Etruscans, Greeks, Romans, Teutons, Moors and Spaniards. There, in a secluded spot in the hamlet of Cicala, in a modest two-room house surrounded by a white lilac, his mother, Maria, was born, a brunette with huge eyes, and more than 100 years before her, Giordano Bruno. In the old house in Cicala, I browsed for the first time, at the age of 7, some of Bruno’s manuscripts and books, a family heirloom. The Absolute produces the Mind, and the Mind produces the Soul of the World, I was reading in my childhood … I now had a Model, my mother’s great-grandfather, so all I did was to repeat, step by step, Bruno’s formative experience. I learned from adolescence the language and literature of Latin, Greek, Spanish, philosophy, logic, memorization techniques, especially those that focused on visual memory, I read insatiably the classics of Roman literature, Lucretius, Virgil and Ovid, the great Italian poets, Dante, Ariosto and Tasso, I studied Aristotle in the original, so that at the age of 25 I was admitted to the Academy of the Secrets of Nature, the first scientific society in the world, founded in Naples in 1560. Arab thinkers from the X-XIIth centuries were no strangers to me either, Averroes, Avicenna, Algazel, Avicebron, which I could read in translation, I was especially drawn to Averroes’s theory of an endless creation, started from within, not imposed by an external deity. I also learned Hebrew, I liked the letters, their symbolic load, I often did calligraphy exercises with them, and my notebooks began to look like works of art. From Plotinus to Porphirus, from Pico della Mirandola to Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, from St. Augustine to Paracelsus, I felt more and more acutely the impossibility of placing the structures of the ultimate reality in a logical form. In fact, Bruno also emphasized in De Umbris Idearum that our ideas are a mixture of light and shadow and do not represent the absolute truth, which we can never reach, except for some Chosen Ones, such as Porphirus or Plotinus, who would have had some ecstatic visions, in which they were one with the Absolute. In Giordano Bruno, the words are not lost in the chiaroscuro, they cut into bright meanings the illuminated part of reality, and the many facets of the tone of his writing vibrate, at least for me, from live-bright to semi-bright blurred and dark-bright. I am convinced that Bruno (the one who dreamed of a literary style that imitated the creation of a painting), an esposito of his time, exposed, exiled, betrayed, abandoned, had such ecstatic visions, otherwise it’s hard to explain the frenzy with which he succeeded to build such a profound and challenging work, even for today’s intellectuals. From the age of 20, my spiritual path was therefore aimed at achieving such states, which I later experienced on the island of Ada Kaleh.
– Maaammmaaa … Ariadna has been kidnapped! Three men jumped the fence in the garden and took it upstairs, and they kicked me in my stomach and slapped me to almost move my jaw out of place as I tried to get out of their arms.
– Nooooo … It can’t be! Didn’t you see in which direction they ran? God, don’t leave us! Do a miracle, Holy Virgin!
– They took the path behind the house, which leads to Mount Somma. My stomach hurts terribly, blood started to flow in my mouth …
– I run quickly to the neighbors, to borrow their horse, wait for me, we will try to find the brigands, you announce other neighbors to follow us. Then don’t forget to go into the house and turn all the glasses upside down. It is an event that still causes me insomnia, another tragedy of my family, at that time I was 10 years old and my sister, Ariadna, 12 years old, when she was abducted unexpectedly, right from the garden of the house in Cicala. I have never seen her again since then, only her shy, piercing eyes pierce my memory from time to time, and she certainly reached a slave market, our lives had few idyllic moments, as you could have imagined from the above ranks, we lived in a volatile and insecure society, representatives of civil administration, police and justice were corrupt, robbers frequently robbed rural areas, and Turkish pirates attacked homes on the Mediterranean coast and kidnapped women and children, all destined for the slave market, after the kidnappers first satisfied their animal instincts. The life of an ordinary man oscillated between the guardian angel and his personal devil, and the belief in a satanic plot that threatened our community was growing. The significantly existence of the Devil in people’s lives was a good pretext, a justification for the proliferation of violence.
I can’t forget the state that plagued me a week after Ariadne’s disappearance. My mother went to the witch Emilia, from the next village, in the absence of my sister I feel lonely and useless in Cicala and I am attracted like a magnet by the thought of climbing again the two mountains, Somma and Vesuvius, which seems to throb over the horizon in the fresh air with May scents, as I did a year ago, with Domenico and his father, my heartbeat quickens with every step, I am now in a field flanked by olive trees, from which I can see a lake darted with wild ducks, on his shore a few women dressed in long hemp shirts dance frantically around a goat with an erect limb, trying to get up on both back legs, the madman of the village runs past me, his hair and beard in disarray and the eyes out of the orbits, he makes wide gestures with his hands and feet and makes some jerky sounds, meaningless, the road winds through orchards with oranges, layers of vines, follows a meadow with a herd of goats and a few mules, clumps of poplars and elms, the birds seem to chirp more shrill, Ariadna comes back strongly in my mind, I see again with my soul bent, the scene in the garden in which I was throwing the rags ball from one to the other, sewn by my mother, I see through tears how a cart with two oxen approaches, loaded with wood, the man holding the reins is tied with a red scarf to his eye left, buongiorno, buongiorno, on the cart’s arm is stuck a stick with an icon of the Blessed Virgin on top, a gentle and warm wind blowing from the sea spreads my hair, I feel that I tighten my goatskin shoes, I open two of the buttons on the navy blouse, the road begins to climb and narrows, I now step on a path drawn among green bushes and white rocks, I admire on the left the so familiar ridge of Mount Somma, and back I see from above the city with small houses flowerbeds and church towers, the blue bay rhythmed with the white of the sailing vessels and the small fishing boats, the outline of the shore swaying with the untied clouds and the orchards of oranges and olive trees, from Mount Vesuvius descends a girl of about 14 years old dressed in a white dress wearing a bodice with yellow ribbons and the skirt full of mountain peonies, unfolds them in front of me and an explosion of small and delicate red flowers steals my greedy gaze, for a few moments I suck the fairy’s breath, eyebrows, eyes and hair of an intense black contrasts with the skin of an ethereal white, she moves away with agile and graceful feline movements, the rocks become more and more numerous and angular, intersected by hills of gray lava, I am already on the edge of the huge crater of Mount Vesuvius, I begin to descend in the dark cone, an eagle flies overhead, I hear the flutter of its wide wings, I slip through the whites dug by torrents and the strange shapes of petrified lava, white on a black background predominates, huge multicolored lava hieroglyphs soon appear, from azure to orange and yellow, a real theater of calcined shapes, I recognize plants, wild birds and fantastic animals, I descend and feel the ashes under my feet more and more hot, from a few black mouths in the depths of the volcanic cone comes a rare smoke, with the smell of sulphur, I hold my breath to hear the groan of the abyss, I feel as I’m stolen from my own infinite interior, my gaze looking back into itself, without perception of reality, a groping gaze towards a scale of pain, in a microscopic world made up of small islands-tears, the tear is a transparent island, and the word tear is a pseudonym of the island of Ada Kaleh, I stop and imagine that the abyss below me could open from moment to moment to swallow me, ARIADNAAAAAAA …
It is said that the passage of time is a mistake of the eternal world, but without it you could not taste the unique flavor of time, love. On Strada di Toledo I often watched with interest the couples moving with frantic kisses, as they headed in the evening, in the light of the lamps, to the central square, where small plays were staged or songs and canti carnascialeschi (carnival songs) were sung, under the moonlight and under the smooth flight of hawks, trained in the households of the nobles. Mimo, as those close to him called my friend Domenico Scarlatti, had a bright face with perfect features, large, enveloping eyes. He was my secret confidant, we secretly borrowed from each other volumes about the art of love, which we stole from my parents’ libraries. I was 13 years old when I first had more special feelings for a girl of the same age, Giulia (oval face, framed by brown curls, shady eyes, straight nose and a sung voice), the illegitimate daughter of a famous painter and baroque architect, Francesco Solimena, whom I met in the house of the Pergolesi family, for a delicious ice cream with fruits, cream and whipped cream, sprinkled with rum. The same ice cream that I would find over a century, patented and marketed under the name of barbataia by the tumultuous impresario Domenico Barbaja, who brought Rossini to Naples. Solimena and later Barbaja had an almost visceral hatred for castrated young people, such as Nicolò Grimaldi, with a miraculous mezzo-soprano voice, who dominated in my youth the Neapolitan music scene, in works staged by the prolific Alessandro Scarlatti, at the Teatro dei Fiorentini or Teatro San Bartolomeo . Later, the soprano Marianna Bulgarelli, nicknamed “La Romanina”, who had fallen madly in love with Mimo, then organist and composer at the Royal Chapel, also sang there. Unaltered remained the flavors and fears of my childhood in Cicala, the smell of rye bread, baked on my mother’s hearth, the fear of curses and jettatura (evil eye), pasta and edible chestnuts, the fear of undead, cereal porridge and delicious goat cheese, leek stews, cabbage and turnips, salads with olive oil, the horror of the raids of Turkish and Albanian pirates.
Mimo’s beauty and talent had also been heard of by Ninon de l’Enclos, a legendary courtesan at the Court of Louis XIV, who claimed to be the wonder of his kingdom, despite her advanced age. Many considered this lover of splendid vices the most beautiful woman of the seventeenth century and for over 70 years (she knew the secret of always being young) she broke the hearts of many kings, princes, nobles, soldiers, writers, scientists, etc. The dreaded Cardinal Richelieu paid 50,000 crowns for a night of love to this hetaire, beauté du diable, the archetypal muse of the genius intellectuals of seventeenth-century France: Saint-Évremond, La Rouchefoucauld, La Fontaine, Molière, Racine, Fontenelle, etc. , which she dominated not only through personal charm, but also through intellectual abilities, refinement in manners and conversations, a courageous vision of life, in favor of the emancipation of women. You need more genius to make love than to command armies, it was one of her successful aphorisms. At the age of 12 she was so beautiful that she had already become the main character of songs, poems and novels created by famous artists and writers, and her biographers claim in unison that her brilliant and active mind absorbed all knowledge with supernatural speed. At the age of 20, he made an extremely bold public statement for that century, I note that women are held accountable for everything related to frivolity, while men reserve the right to enjoy essential qualities only for themselves. From now on I will be a man. In 1703, my friend Mimo, who had turned 18, received a written invitation from Ninon de L’Enclos to take part in the celebration of the four volumes of Molière’s complete works in Paris, ” Les oeuvres de Monsieur Molière ”, asking him to play the harpsichord at that select event held by the Royal Crown, and the fee was not negligible. Mimo insisted that we go together, I think we did about three weeks with the diligency pulled by six horses, which were changing in the main cities of the route, Rome, Milan, Geneva, Dijon. All the way I suffered from a melancholy close to the disease, it seemed to me that I was going to an unknown place, which carried in it the seeds of an event that would mark me deeply, my skin was trembling when someone said the word Paris.
By the time I suddenly woke up in the bedroom with a huge walnut canopy, purple silk curtains and countless Venetian mirrors of Mrs. Ninon de l’Enclos, my love biography counted only a few hugs and kisses, plus one woman I’d seen naked, our maid, an Albanian with a smead face, shortly after I turned 17. I remember well this scene hidden in the corners of my heart, which I did not dare to put into words until now, I was a shy virgin and I was 18 years old, and Ninon was the most experienced woman of that crazy century, she was 83 years old, but you didn’t give her more than 45 years, my mother’s age. As she was speaking to me, she was spinning a three-inch silver dinar from the time of Emperor Hadrian on her right hand, with the inscription HUMANITAS, FELICITAS, LIBERTAS, the values she fought for in the name of the fair sex. Her hair, hands, eyes, and breasts made a lot of ink flow from her illustrious contemporaries, and those who loved her were even more fascinated by the other, less visible parts and qualities.
-Beautiful child, I have prepared a bath for you with white rose water. The maid will pick you up in a few minutes. Why are your eyes wet with emotion?
– I was extremely surprised last night, at the ceremony dedicated to Master Molière, that you invited me to your residence in the Marais, Rue des Tournelles, and not Domenico, my dear friend who is much more beautiful and talented than me…
– It wasn’t just my choice, that’s what the Tarot decided in the first place, probably destiny has prepared this moment for you, maybe for a long time, so it’s a surprise for me to have you here too, but I always knew how to pay attention to the meeting with the delights of the moment. Here is what it says on the other side of the coin, Pontifex Maximus, for me Time is the high priest, I am disgusted by male religious or secular authorities. I then intuited from my eyes that you needed a woman more. I read on Domenico’s face that he was caught up in a love story.
– Yes, Mademoiselle L’Enclos, I heard in our country, in Naples, that you defied all the great men of the last century, and yet they did not sting you, on the contrary they were delighted every time when you invited them here to the Oiseaux des Tournelles, as you like to call it. Last year we witnessed an interesting discussion on this topic between Domenico’s father and Pergolesi. Only last night did I find out, with unspeakable astonishment, that you are 83 years old. As you can imagine, my next question could only be about the secret of your longevity and youth.
– Unfortunately, this is a question that has been asked frequently in recent years, a sign that I am no longer young. It’s not a secret, all I did was delay my childhood for as long as possible … The best cage for the Childhood Bird is an atmosphere of spirituality and intense love. By the way, that’s what I created here in the Oiseau des Tournelles. I don’t know how much the face creams with hundreds of years old recipes, facial movements, gymnastics, travel, walking in nature, daily baths (unlike most women of our time, who are unwashed, from peasants to queens), but I am sure that the intense readings, the discussions with great writers, artists and philosophers and, last but not least, the love stories with the men I chose made possible this myth, which I hear you also speak about it in Naples, the City of Music.
One night of love with Mademoiselle L’Enclos was enough for me to be born a man and to understand that the technique of love is related to spiritual techniques, sometimes they are twins, as in her case. Try to give up a great love and you will be captured by the cosmic eroticism of loneliness, a loneliness of God without a world. The first to benefit from my overnight erotic erudition was, of course, Mimo, but later a few women from my long life, one obviously from Ada Kaleh island, whom I loved with passion and devotion. Back home, with a different perception of life, I was glad to learn that in college I would be a student of a friend of the Scarlatti family, whom I already knew and admired, the philosopher Giambattista Vico, who taught rhetoric. I remembered him from the age of 16, when I was impressed by a dialogue between him and Alessandro Scarlatti, about knowledge, carried in my presence and that of Mimo. The delicate, discreet and neglected Vico, always pale and drawn to the face, which further highlighted his strong, aquiline nose, but with eyes that enchanted you, was convinced that an authentic knowledge of nature and the human being could belong only to God, their creator, and man can aspire to such a thing only through imagination and intelligence, unlike the much more famous and pampered Descartes, his contemporary, who relied entirely on man’s reason and observation, by which he could have access to the truth. Not only me, with my three-hundred-year existence, spent more in the library, but also the intellectuals of the present and the future, I think they will finally give justice to Vico: a true knowledge is not possible, but only a knowledge of the probable. Imagination and dream are the catalyst for creation and an existence beyond the common norms, I am sure that the myth of Mademoiselle L’Enclos would not have been possible in the absence of her ardent intellectual and erotic imagination. Maybe Ninon was not as beautiful as they said, especially at the age when I met her, I noticed for example that she had a nose that looked like Vico’s, and the marks of time on her thighs and abdomen could be read, but I can assure you that she was a charismatic and strange creature, as I made love and looked at her transfigured, for a moment I felt as if I had seen in her eyes my whole life, even my prenatal one. You know, it is not easy to express such states at all, the language of the soul is not analytical, it is metaphorical and visionary, I only after the age of 150 had privileged moments in which I listened to the inner dialogue of the soul with itself, beyond the frantic chaining of things and the dark areas of the unconscious. And yet I am not able to describe those experiences, because I should write with the ink of the heart, only it is the one that unifies the four essences of the human condition, the body, the creature, the soul and the spirit.
In my youth, writing was a common body with the world, now it has created its own world, independent, far from the original text and the essence of human nature. By the 1700s, when Naples was one of the centers of the world, man’s face and hands were reduplications, signatures, marks of the soul, now they tend to become shadows of a foreign, automatic language that dominates it. And the human soul is no longer creation and imagination, under the sign of God’s mind, as Vico told us, but writing twinned with nothingness, the focus of the virtual, as the poet William Blake prophetically warned, more than 200 years ago: fleeing from itself, in false-abstract-stretches, a verse-effigy for the era of virtual reality, in which the universe is perceived by some physicists as a hologram, a simple projection … Strange, as I write my life and mirror myself in the mold of words, life begins to draw my face with more and more indecipherable letters, until the features disappear.
Constantin Severin is a Romanian writer and visual artist, founder and proponent of Archetypal Expressionism, a highly regarded global art movement, which he founded in Bukovina, in 2001. A graduate of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, he has published 13 books of poetry, essays and fiction. One of his poems was included in the 2014 World Literature Today anthology, After the Wall Fell: Dispatches from Central Europe (1989–2014), aimed at popularizing post-Wende Central European literature on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Severin’s conceptual art and artworks have appeared in Artdaily, World Literature Today, Trafika Europe, The Poet, It’s Liquid, Levure littéraire, Empireuma, Contemporanul, Vatra, Arkitera, Glare Magazine, Cuadernos del Ateneo, Dance, Media Japan, and other international art and literary magazines. Website: http://constantinseverin.ro/
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