I am seven, I have committed a crime and I am going to prison where my brother won’t visit for fear of being locked up as well. My mates say if I stare at the classroom walls Mister Williams can’t read my thoughts; a plaster-god weaved a shield around my body that made me invisible.
Open your Bible at ‘Exodus’ chapter ten, paragraph four, he says.
[…and Moses answered: Oh, God, I am slow of speech…]
I spent so long in the company of my laptop that I am becoming a keyboard. I jump over squares in conversation when real things are the wrong way around. They are so loud it is impossible to miss them even if I can barely see at all. Each shortcut leads to a mistake I had made, to a crime I will commit.
Press “space bar” to be born.
Press “escape” to swear in emojis.
I bear the weight of a full stop God’s tongue drops on my back. I trusted God to wake me up for school with a packed lunch. At breaktime I hear rumbling and my heartbeat. Mister Williams warned me: when you get upset your heart grows a claw which pokes at the ribcage until you pass out.
To avoid passing out, I have stolen a girl’s lunchbox. I am a thief who will go to prison and die hungry.
How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?
It gets lighter. I eat my past in small bites and praise the Lord.
© Maria Stadnicka, April 2021
© Tristram Fane Saunders, The Telegraph, 6 March 2021.
Buried Gods Metal Prophets (2021) is published by Guillemot Press, editors Luke Thompson and Sarah Cave, illustrations and design Antonia Glücksman. The book is available here: https://www.guillemotpress.co.uk/poetry/maria-stadnicka-buried-gods-and-metal-prophets.
Buried Gods and Metal Prophets is based on Stadnicka’s experience as a teacher at St. Stelian Orphanage, north Romania, which cared for three hundred children diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. Exposing the reality of living in state care during the Cold War, it explores the spectre of political and human tyranny that can contribute to a generational socio-cultural trauma. Buried Gods Metal Prophets explores childhood experiences during the Cold War in Romania following the Decree 770 imposed by the Communist Party in 1966. Issued as a measure meant to stimulate the population growth, the disastrous Decree 770 banned contraception and abortion, while awarding women with more than five children an Order of the Heroine Mother. As a result, an estimated twelve million illegal abortions took place between 1967 and 1989 while over 250,000 children were placed in orphanages or care homes.
Stadnicka builds a polyphonic poetic documentary inspired by Julia Kristeva’s idea that poetry can establish ‘space and infinity’ beyond the restriction of linear poetics. The juxtaposition of narratives builds a world in which the omnipresent voice of the government echoes in the mechanised communication between the state and the individual, in a society where the private ownership of a typewriter without state permission, meant prison sentence.
‘UK-based Romanian poet Maria Stadnicka’s forthcoming Buried Gods Metal Prophets, published by Guillemot Press, is an astonishing collection of poems, and a testament to the tens of thousands of children who grew up in Romanian orphanages under Nicolae Ceaușescu. Bringing together historical documents of the era, lines of other authors with her “censoring” interventions, and Stadnicka’s own moving poetry, this is the poet’s fourth collection both written and published in English.’ (Paula Erizanu, The Calvert Journal, 2021)
The full article is available here: https://www.calvertjournal.com/articles/show/12466/romanian-english-poetry-ceausescu-orphans-buried-gods-metal-prophets-maria-stadnicka
Buried Gods Metal Prophets (2021) is published by Guillemot Press. Editors: Luke Thompson and Sarah Cave. Design and illustration: Antonia Glücksman. The book is available here.
Buried Gods Metal Prophets published by the Guillemot Press, UK.
Editors: Luke Thompson and Sarah Cave
Design and illustrations: Antonia Glücksman
Free online launch on 11 Feb. 2021 at 7pm. Please register using the Guillemot’s Events Page which is available here: https://www.guillemotpress.co.uk/events/11th-february-book-launch-maria-stadnicka-featuring-susie-campbell.
About Buried Gods Metal Prophets:
Maria Stadnicka’s latest poetry collection Buried Gods Metal Prophets is inspired by the experiences of her siblings, who lived in a Romanian children’s home between 1978-1987. This was the period of Romania’s Communist Party’s disastrous ‘Decree 770’, which banned contraception and abortion, at the same time as awarding women with more than five children an ‘Order of the Heroine Mother’. As a result, an estimated twelve million illegal abortions took place between 1967 and 1989 and over 250,000 children were placed in orphanages or care homes.
Stadnicka builds a polyphonic poetic documentary inspired by Julia Kristeva’s idea that poetry can establish ‘space and infinity’ beyond the restriction of linear poetics. The juxtaposition of narratives builds a world in which the omnipresent voice of the government echoes in the mechanised communication between the state and the individual, as well as in the control over the process of information dissemination in a climate where the private ownership of a typewriter without state permission, meant prison sentence.
Buried Gods Metal Prophets is based on her personal experience when working as a teacher at St. Stelian Orphanage which cared for three hundred children diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. Exposing the reality of living in state care during the Cold War, it explores the spectre of political and human tyranny that can contribute to a generational socio-cultural trauma. Children are called by numbers, not by names, and even the letters they write to Santa Claus are subject to censorship.
The creative process was informed by interviews with family members, and research around childhood trauma, neglect and child language development. The book responds to what Sartre calls literary ‘commitment and substance of enterprise’, looking at survival as an act of defiance.
In The Geometric Kingdom, Rupert Loydell and Maria Stadnicka write about loss, grief and mourning, and explore how memory, faith and ritual facilitate the relationship between the living and the dead.
Publisher: Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, UK.
Editor: Alec Newman
‘Loydell is mining themes that resonate with our times, leading to collaborations with a talented array of fellow poets, allowing for a synergistic pulse of varied views. He and his fellow travelers ask difficult questions and offer open-ended answers through the time-tested holy triad of ethos, logos, and pathos.’
– Joey Madia, X-Peri
‘Stadnicka’s poetics is one of craftmanship, wherein she carefully walks the tightrope of surreal poetic metaphor and the gritty realism of investigative journalism and broadcasting. Drawing on her experiences in both, Stadnicka’s writing culminates into a distinctly inventive literary landscape.’
– Bryony Hughes, Stride
At Eye Level is a book, it is also an exhibition, it is also a meeting place for four friends. The book opens dialogue and collaboration between poet, painter, printer and photographer which gravitates towards interdependent yet autonomous responses to each other’s particular focus within the political space.
The title At Eye Level references both measuring and aligning (theodolite eye) but also our unique human viewpoint with it’s near and far focus – both minutiae and overview.
The exhibition takes place at The Lansdown Art Gallery / Lansdown Hall, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 1BB.
Opening times: Wed. 30 Sep: 9am – 8pm and Thu. 1st Oct – Mon. 5th Oct: 9am – 5pm.
The art gallery is ‘COVID-safe’ and it has in place the current health and safety requirements to protect the public from spreading or contacting COVID-19. Hand sanitiser will be provided and please ensure that you wear a face mask or face covering if you visit the exhibition. Thank you.
Mark Mawer is a painter based in Goodwick, Pembrokeshire. Over the past forty years he has exhibited regularly in the UK and abroad, and has work in private collections. He worked as a lecturer at Stroud School of Art and on the BA Hons Visual Arts at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. He retired from teaching in 2013 but continues to work from his studio on the West Wales Coast.
Andrew Morrison is a book artist and letterpress printer who makes hand-made, limited edition books. His work is in many national collections including The British Library, the Tate, the Southbank and British Council special collections. He has lectured widely in the UK, most recently at the University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham. His workshop is currently based near Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Further information about his work can be accessed at www.andrewmorrisonbooks.uk.
John Stadnicki is a photographer and lecturer at SGS College (previously Stroud School of Art, Lansdown). He has been seriously involved in photography since 1981 and completed his MFA in Documentary Photography at the University of Wales in 2008. His photography reveals and reflects the human unease in the socio-political landscape. John still uses film in most of his work.
Maria Stadnicka is a writer, editor and freelance journalist based in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. She is currently a PhD researcher at University of the West of England, Bristol. Her writing explores social identity, cultural theory and the ethics of memory. She is the author of Somnia (2020, KFS Press, UK), The Unmoving (2018, Broken Sleep Books, UK), Imperfect (2017, Yew Tree Press, UK) and the forthcoming poetry-documentary collection Buried Gods Metal Prophets (2021, Guillemot Press, UK). She recently performed her work at Edinburgh Festival, Cheltenham Literature Festival, Oxford University, Tears in the Fence Poetry Festival. Further information about her work can be accessed at http://www.mariastadnicka.com
Note: During opening times the gallery will follow the safety guidance on social distancing in public spaces.
Come to ‘Lost in Books’ for the launch of A Confusion of Marys (Shearsman Books) w/ Sarah Cave & Rupert Loydell & featuring Special Guest Poet, Maria Stadnicka. Doors open at 6.30pm.
RUPERT LOYDELL is Senior Lecturer in the School of Writing and Journalism at Falmouth University, a writer, editor and abstract artist. He has many books of poetry in print, including Dear Mary, The Return of the Man Who Has Everything, Wildlife and Ballads of the Alone, all published by Shearsman, and Talking Shadows from Red Ceilings. Shearsman also published Encouraging Signs, a book of essays, articles and interviews. He has also authored many collaborative works, several with Daniel Y. Harris; and edited Smartarse and co-edited Yesterday’s Music Today for Knives Forks & Spoons Press, From Hepworth’s Garden Out: poems about painters and St. Ives for Shearsman, and Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh: manifestos and unmanifestos for Salt.
SARAH CAVE is a writer and academic living in Cornwall. She is currently working on a practice-based PhD in Poetry at Royal Holloway. Sarah has published two pamphlets and an illustrated chapbook, like fragile clay, published by Guillemot Press. She has published two collections of poetry, An Arbitrary Line (Broken Sleep Books) and Perseverance Valley (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press). Sarah’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Oxford Poetry, Tears in the Fence, Shearsman and Eborakon.
Lost in Books is an independent bookshop in Cornwall, United Kingdom. You can find further information about it, here. The address is Lost in Books, Quay Street, Lostwithiel, Cornwall, PL22 0BS, UK.
© Maria Stadnicka 2020
The other day, during an afternoon nap,
a tramp came to my door with a letter
for the man in apartment three, ground floor.
The knock made me jump, then I thought
I could give out some change in return,
but the beggar refused; he was holding
a bunch of keys and left saying ‘till tomorrow.
When I opened the envelope, lying flat
in my bunk, a pair of handcuffs and
steel neck chains dropped on my chest.
(From Somnia, collection out now at Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2020.)
© Maria Stadnicka 2020
Somnia is available here.
2020 catches me off guard. I finish a glass of red wine and start my list of New Year resolutions brushing my teeth. My dentist suggested it, to prevent staining. Spitting paste foam in the sink I notice my second watch shows one past midnight. British time. On the other wrist, my first watch shows one past two. The time in the country I grew up. Youngsters already pissed pints on street corners, on the way home after celebratory fireworks. The end of a decade and all I’m thinking about is how lonely must have been for Ian Seed to share a hotel room with a woman he’d never met. And all due to a booking error.
© Maria Stadnicka 2020
! Recommended reading: Seed, I. (2018) New York Hotel, Bristol: Shearsman Books. [TSL Book of the Year 2018]