The pandemic has been unkind to our world but has also offered more time to ponder on different aspects of our lives and more time to write. Because I was able to work from home, I finished writing my first novel, “Under the Iron Curtain” which has now been published in Romanian edition, by Niculescu Oxford Publishing House, Bucharest in July 2021.
The novel presents a fictionalized account of the last 3 years of Ceausescu’s regime in Romania, 1986-1989, ending with the fall of the Iron Curtain. It follows a family, as it struggles living in a world led by a government that oppresses its people. Many historical truths are embedded within this book, as it recounts the struggles of daily lives during Ceausescu times, the woman’s condition in the communist societies, as well as important events in the Romanian history, such as the Brasov rebellion of November 1987 as well as the Romanian Revolution of 1989. Characterized as a transmodern literature, this is a story of moral courage, a story of parenthood and moral dilemmas, and a story about the resilience of the human spirit that shines through years of hardship.
Here are a few pictures from the official book launch.
And couple of TV shows where I had the pleasure to be invited.
My first novel it’s out! It was a long journey, as publishing the traditional way it’s a long process. The book is published in Romanian, by Niculescu Oxford Publishing House in Bucharest.
I am not going to tell you the plot, I will just say that throughout its 463 pages the story takes the reader through the most important events of the last 3 years of Ceausescu’s regime, 1986-1989, including the Chernobyl Disaster and the fall of the Iron Curtain. Besides being informative on that time period, this is a story of moral courage and of the beauty of human spirit that shines through years of hardship. It is also a story of millions of people, past and present, who have lived under oppressive regimes.
The sun above is scorching the playground, The child burns his fingers on the only swing, From outside the walls the eyes are watching, His every move, his everything. The camp keeps other people that fled from war- thorn place, The snipers are now far, but other jailors rule this space.
A sad national symbol that flies above the ground, Had stamped undocumented the boy’s and other souls And locked them up because they made it, While buried free the souls that drowned.
Pushing his legs the child is swinging higher in the sun, Oblivious to man-made rules that shouldn’t, Build cages for the lives of people like him, Or for the lives of anyone.
Perhaps one day the current faith in borders, Will dissipate just like the air under his swing, Leaving the truth, good morals, justice and good conscience, To document belonging to a society where fair will be the king.
Yesterday I had the pleasure to talk about the process of writing and about my new poetry book with Dr. Meena Singhal from Long Beach City College California. Below I am sharing with you the interview, which was very fun and a good opportunity to share with the audience my interest and love for literature.
If you are an educator (or someone that has discussion groups about literature and writing) , and would like to invite me to speak in your class, I would be happy to do so, if my time allows. I do not charge anything for it, I’m doing it out of my love for teaching and learning, for the young generations but also for people from all walks of life.
The bomb that fell flattened his world, And drew corridors of fire That led everywhere and nowhere, Toward a future that kept hanging.
The tearless silence was floating, Dressed with silk black cap, As faith was rewriting the lists For new havens.
His eyes were closed, but it was bright inside, He remembered the taste of chocolate And how he ran up and down the hills Over the desert.
He will soon hear the others, Crawling like him, on their canes of hope, Their skills got sharper every time.
He’ll join them in the quest for Their food for tomorrow: Wild mushrooms and rabbits. Sometimes they will go by the airfield, Wondering loud where the storks were, And why was their place taken by uniformed men.
He felt his body burning, Heard shouting, faint, then rising, He smelled his father pomade and felt the clutching of his arms. He was tired of running in a race that had no stopwatch, Besides he already won, Of all the things, this war has never been able to embargo his dreams.
This is a poem I have written few years ago. Like everything I write( like everything that we writers write), there is a story behind it. Back then I was doing field work in Jordan about war refugees, and I was spending time listening to Syrian war refugees recounting their stories. Some of them had their children around when I was taking their interview. I was struck, I knew war from far away but this was a first account, as close as I could get. I would finish the interviews, and then I’d go transcribe and I would feel these people, and their pain even more than I didn’t before. Their faces would come to mind. This poem is about one of those faces.
Hello everyone! To mark my collaboration with the platform Masticadores, they have conducted an interview with me which has been published a few days ago. Here is the link for it: Masticadores interview, Andrada Costoiu.
Because many of my readers are English speakers, I am going to reproduce it in English below.
When did you start writing? Can you explain that in a few words and also tell us where do you live?
I think my love of writing started early on, with my Romanian literature elementary teacher. Back then, Romania was a communist country where creativity was not encouraged. But despite that, he did encourage us to write about the simple things that we enjoyed in our lives. And that’s how it started…..
This takes me back to the way we teach children and the new generations. Creativity is the most wonderful form of self-expression. We must nurture that in our children because it is not only good for their emotional health, but it would also bring more magic into our world.
I have lived in several parts of the world, and each of them had its own charm. I now live with my family in Irvine, California, and I am affiliated with the University of California Irvine.
Do you think that the current pandemic is influencing your social network and your readership? Do you think these have expanded?
I have not thought much about this question before, so thank you for asking because it is a good way to reflect in retrospective. In my case, this pandemic has created more human connection than ever before. Not having to drive to work, not having to drive as much as before, has given me time to do other things. And one of those things is nurturing my soul, through lecture or through reaching out to people that I did not have the time to reach out before. I think the same has happened to others. So yes, there is more dialogue than before, and I do think that people are more likely reading more books as a result of the pandemic.
Is writing for an on-line platform changing your inspiration or your writing style? Do you think that writing for a reader that is using an iPad or a phone could be something that would determine your inspiration or desire to write?
We have to consider that people have different preferences, and different ways of reading. I myself prefer to read physical books, because I like to touch and turn the pagers and I like the smell of books. It is something that comes natural to me, because I have spent so much time in libraries and bookstores. Other people prefer kindle or have other ways of reading.
That being said, I think as writer we have to always adapt. But when I say adapt, I am referring to the format you are presenting your writing, not to the content itself. For example, I have recently published a book on Amazon. It is both paperback and kindle. These two have different formats and you have to be careful about the layout, otherwise the content might appear unprofessional.
The way people access my writing it is not important in my decision of writing or not writing a story, a poem or anything that tickles my imagination. I will always write. But I do care that anyone who reads me does it in a proper way, on their specific device. So, I will format my writing accordingly.
Do you think Masticadores’ focus on readers from urban areas is fair?
We live in an age where access is given to people from anywhere. I think we should always reach for a bigger audience, whether a big city, a small town or countryside. But there is something about the alienation and anonymity in the big cities. There is something about how hundreds of thousands of people pass one another, there is something about the brutal indifference of the streets. So, if through our writing we are able to contribute and bring some feeling into that, then that is a wonderful thing.
What has your collaboration with Masticadores offered you?
Diversity, diversity! I think being part of it has given me new perspectives from new writers, from different places. It is important that we always expand our horizons, and I hope I am able to do this for this audience.
Andrada Costoiu is an academic and writer of stories that come from the heart. She lives in California, where she spends her time between academic research and writing books. Her academic work and her literary endeavors have been published in various international journals and publications. Her work on political issues has been published by Cambridge Scholars and has also appeared in international political science journals such as the Journal of Identity and Migration Studies. As a literary author, she has published poems in literary magazines, such as Spillwords Press, Visual Verse,Literary Yard, Scarlet Leaf Review and others. She is the author of the poetry collection “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” and also the author of the upcoming novel Under the Iron Curtain, which is set in communist Romania.”
Another time, same wind gusts are witness, to a world of ever changing, uncharted sands of red and tan. No tribal conflicts are troubling this place, The hammer of the modern world has already been cast.
I hear the music of the shifting dunes Chanting to worlds that have been here long before the present, With a faint hum, low throated, drum like sealing sound.
Glowing under the moon, the lights of a thousand stars hanging from the sky, Drench the desert like whiffs of wisdom. I know, That I have lived my entire life in the company of them, Kneeling together to the same universe, Feeling the life force.
Some girls wear different hats, Mine is to thread the beads of civilization into the eternal loop, and prove that that nothing disappears into the unknown. I have been searching to make the Atlantis of the Sands real, To find the lost city that was forgotten for thousands of years. I keep planning my route, And this is certainly the most spectacular adventure of my life.
My feet are aching, for days I’ve been begging for new feet, new arms, stoic in my quest that I hope to carry through the next day and on.
Tonight, I feel so thirsty, Drinking water from my canteen, barefoot, I see my crew stretching, The feeble sounds of their hymn sung in unison Express visions of life that undulate across miles of silent sand. “We’ll go at first light”, says the main porter, I nod, Knowing that the greatest honor bestowed upon us humans is survival. Tomorrow is another day, Neither bound nor free, we will keep walking.
We’re a band of loyal warriors fighting to assemble the puzzle that reveals the truth: The past, the present, and the future are all connected, We don’t own time, but we do own our history.
I believe in us, Nothing is dust in the wind And our songs will not fade mute. Ancient flames of light flicker inside us, Giving us purpose, We will dive and emerge from the sea currents of time, And trace past and present trails of human survival and civilization.
My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.
Because you’re here and you have read it, I’d like to tell you the story behind it. There are actually two stories, one is that of Gertude Bell and the other of a lost city.
I’ve written about Gertude Bell before. There is little written about her, but she was remarkable woman who left traces in our history. She was a misfit, one that naturally went against the stereotyped woman of the early twentieth century. She was born in England, in 1868, into a wealthy family. Her mother died while when Gertrude was seven years old.She studied at Oxford. In fact, was the first woman to graduate in Modern History at Oxford. A lot of records list her as an archeologist or as a writer, but for me the accent should be put on her travels, on her quest to uncover unknown paths and on her cultural and political power in the Middle East. Her desert odyssey started in 1900 and she travelled across the Arabian desert many times. Many people thought of her as a specie of lunatic British explorer. I think the fact that they underestimated her was her lucky charm.
Her knowledge helped the European powers decide how to carve Arabia after the war. There is a movie made about her and her travels: “Queen of the desert”.
Under the cover of archaeological research, she traveled to Hail, to assess the Rashids, a historic Arabian House who were the most formidable enemies of the House of Saud. I don’t know what she saw or what she said but we all know that Ibn Saud was the one that became the founder of Saudi Arabia. Many say that Gertrude was a spy. I don’t know how I feel about this, I guess if you’re not there, you don’t know the reasons, or if you didn’t read enough, you should not speak. So, I will not speak. I want to highlight her courage rather than the political games. She was also involved and played a big role in the creation of Iraq, she played the role of mediator between the Arab government and British officials and later on she played an important part in the administration of Iraq.
So this is Gertrude’s story. Now, the Gertrude in my poem, it’s a combination between the way I see the real Gertrude and myself. I guess I must have some Indiana Jones DNA because I too, love adventure and I am fascinated by these things.
The second story behind this poem is the one of a lost city of Ubar, or the so called The Atlantis of the Sands. The quest to find this city started early on, in 1930. But it wasn’t until 1992 that they actually found something, that might be remnants of this city. Here is what they said about it :
“In February 1992, The New York Times announced a major archaeological discovery in the following terms: “Guided by ancient maps and sharp-eyed surveys from space, archaeologists and explorers have discovered a lost city deep in the sands of Arabia, and they are virtually sure it is Ubar. When news of this discovery spread quickly around the newspapers of the world, there seemed few people willing or able to challenge the dramatic findings, apart from the Saudi Arabian press. The discovery was the result of the work of a team of archaeologists led by Nicholas Clapp, which had visited and excavated the site of a Bedouin well at Shisr (18° 15′ 47 N” 53° 39′ 28″ E) in Dhofar province, Oman. The conclusion they reached, based on site excavations and an inspection of satellite photographs, was that this was the site of Ubar, or Iram of the Pillars, a name found in the Quran which may be a lost city, a tribe or an area.” A contemporary notice at the entrance to an archaeological site at Shisr in the province of Dhofar, Oman, proclaims: “Welcome to Ubar, the Lost City of Bedouin Legend”.However, scholars are divided over whether this really is the site of a legendary lost city of the sands.
“A contemporary notice at the entrance to an archaeological site at Shisr in the province of Dhofar, Oman, proclaims: “Welcome to Ubar, the Lost City of Bedouin Legend”.However, scholars are divided over whether this really is the site of a legendary lost city of the sands.” Source: Wikipedia
I think it is an interesting story, and there are a lot of resources on the web where you could read more about it.
The theme for this month for Free Verse Revolution is “Reflections”. Reflections could mean anything, from reflections in the mirror, water….to anything that you think it could be related with reflections.
For me, it was …the following poem.
You can read it at Free Verse Revolution if you click here. If you are a poet, I encourage you to submit some of your poetry to this blog, as I think it is a wonderful way of sharing our work.
Visual Verse is an anthology of art, poetry, short fiction and non-fiction. You can find more information about it here Visual Verse : An Anthology of Art and Words . Each month authors are asked to write something, within an hour, inspired by an image. The image for this month was the one above. Below is the poem I wrote, which you can find on page 13 of this month’s anthology.
He shed the stiff, dead skins That he once rightfully wore, And let the universe move through him, Turning the pulses of energy Into life.
Perhaps suffering, For this takes courage, He became a tumult of ideas and emotions Both sincere and worthy, To be watered and nourished.
If you’ll come close to his face, You’ll blink twice and then realize That he is struggling, As the waves swell and recede within his body, Receptive to the ebbs and flows of life.
He is embracing, cherishing, protecting creation, Knowing that when the time will come, Death will not take him entirely, And he will continue to exist, As the universe will turn him Into pulses of energy that will create life.
I don’t know how you all feel today, but I will for sure remember it. I have had a lot of publications, in various venues, literary journals and books with political subjects, but never an independent book. Today my first collection of poems came out, both in paperback and kindle edition. I don’t know how to describe the wide range of emotions that I am feeling. How did you feel when your first book was out?
It would be really nice if you would buy my book and write a review, but that’s only if you can, and also if you feel it in your heart. I’m always thankful to you for reading my work and for sharing yours!