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As he grew older and fell into impoverished straits, he seemed to fall off the radar of publishing and performance art. In 1985, on a visit from Paris to perform at a reading at MoMA, Luca afterwards joined me, my late friend poet Ira Cohen, and Timothy Baum (surrealist curator and collector) for a day of poetry and art at various East Village galleries. A petite, baldish man clad in dark eyeglasses and Hush Puppies, he talked mournfully about the Diaspora of avant-gardes from Romania and friends left behind. We took him to a meeting of our Poets and Artists Surrealist Society (PASS) near St. Mark’s Church and spent the rest of the day perusing the galleries that briefly flourished in the East Village of the 1980s. Later on I found out that he had bought one of my art-assemblages, a coffee jar full of “Found keys on 9th St." (I wonder what happened to his art collection.) When he would come to visit me at “chez Val and Ruth,” we'd converse for a while in Romanian, about his friend, the Romanian poet Naum, my surrealist mentor, and reminisce about departed writers Ilarie Voronca, Paul Celan, and Celine Arnauld, all of whom were of Romanian-Jewish ancestry, all suicides. Luca’s conversations bore the fractured, sad cadence of a never-ending exile, his occasional puns an attempt to humanize his suffering and loneliness. Eventually he grew depressed and could no longer cope. “I refuse to exist… I refuse to exist,” he was often overheard saying, talking to himself while walking. He wasn't completely forgotten and when Andrei Codrescu, a contemporary Romanian/American poet, proposed Luca’s writings for a literary prize (Neustadt), Luca refused it as a Surrealist stance against public honors: “I do not accept literary prizes,”4 choosing yet again a path to martyrdom. Alas, finally, he drowned himself at the Pont Mirabeau; the very same place where his compatriot Paul Celan committed suicide, and where many

                                                                                                              4

Luca, “The Flowers of Meat,” and Andrei Codrescu, Inventor of Love, tr. by Julian and Laura Semilian (Black Widow Press, 2010).

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Profile for Contra Mundum Press

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

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