CAPN Abstract 6: Holly Ranger on Stanescu’s Ovid

>>There are still a few spaces left at our Classics And Poetry Now workshop in Senate House, London, on Thursday 2nd November. Don’t forget, it’s open to all.

The relationship between Ovid and the US-based Romanian poet Saviana Stănescu is the focus of Holly Ranger’s paper at #CAPN17. Stănescu currently lives in New York, where she is Assistant Professor of Playwriting and Theatre Studies at Ithaca College, and Associate Artistic Director at Richard Schechner’s East Coast Artists.

photo by Jody Christopherson

Introducing her paper, Ranger tells us:

“Exiled to Romania in 8 CE, Ovid is now hailed as its “national poet”. Despite his own misgivings about Tomis, a distinctive Romanian reception tradition has repurposed Ovid’s life and works in the service of nationalist agendas by Romanians and anti-communist Romanian exiles alike. In sharp contrast, Stănescu uses Ovid to speak about immigrants and emigrants, refugees, sex workers, and minority Roma communities.”

“In a poetic cycle titled ‘Bad Girls’ Bed-Time Stories’ in Diary of a Clone (2003), Stănescu presents a reading of Metamorphoses which casts the epic poem as a cautionary fairy-tale to police female behaviour. In Google Me! (2006), however, the poet suggests that her earlier fraught relationship with Ovid was due predominantly to the fog of the (patriarchal) classical tradition—Google Me! now opens up a conversation with Ovid to find a place of mutual understanding.”

“In ‘TRISTIA: Letters of a Barbarian Woman’, Stănescu invents a Getan slave-girl named Tristia who speaks back to Ovid. The cycle is a collage of found poems, ‘lost poems’, webpages, translations, creative ‘responses’ or replies, and verbatim quotations from Loeb texts and Stănescu writes in Romanian, English, and “that vibrant space in-between”—a Global English that celebrates the hybridity and metamorphoses of language, form, and identity in “that space created by the global gods of internet and migration”. Her cut-and-paste of media and forms becomes a means to reclaim the Ovidian and to make material the hybridity and lability of transnational and online identities.”

“The explicitly Ovidian poems in the collection shade and flow into the surrounding poems of Google Me! to stage diasporic identity crises, fantasies of escape and renewal, and the smashing of national and racial stereotypes that prescribe fixed identities.”

The full poetry collection from which the ‘Tristia’ sequence is taken can be downloaded from Saviana Stanescu’s website here:

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