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Father Dirt

Few books can be called “page-turners,” and even fewer books of poetry can claim that sobriquet, yet that is exactly what Mihaela Moscaliuc has managed to do with her debut collection, Father Dirt.

Few books can be called “page-turners,” and even fewer books of poetry can claim that sobriquet, yet that is exactly what Mihaela Moscaliuc has managed to do with her debut collection, Father Dirt.

Moscaliuc’s poems center on her years growing up in Ceaucescu’s Romania, where “orphans grew up and disappeared below the earth” and suicide was preferable to donating another worker to the state. It sounds funny, but these poems almost give off the smell of the damp earth, the dirt that eventually covers everything. Moscaliuc has managed to take great suffering, which most readers of poetry are accustomed to, and turn into art that refuses to let you turn away from it, even the horror of Chernobyl, where “those babies were born / and we hoped this was no longer God.”

Between abortions and bestiality, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the images the words produce. But Moscaliuc also manages to inject humanity into an inhumane world. Perhaps it is because she was there to witness it that makes it enough that these things haven’t been forgotten or ignored. When we hear about tyranny and repression, Romania is not the first place that comes to our mind. Maybe it didn’t get enough airtime in the 80s, maybe it wasn’t as trendy as Tibet in the 90s, but Moscaliuc’s Romania becomes an unforgettable and real place in Father Dirt, and perhaps that is the only thing that can overshadow these poems.

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