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Paunescu Controversy at St Andrews

February 22nd, 2003 · No Comments · Uncategorized

by Jimmy Goldbergstein – The Glasgow Herald (Oct 2000)
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THE INCLUSION of a Romanian poet who had close links with former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, sparked controversy at a recent St Andrews University poetry festival Romanian poet, Adrian Paunescu reading at the St Anza poetry festival provoked an angry response from some students and sponsors.

Paunescu appeared on Saturday, October 7th, reciting to a gathering of less than 30 people. While being billed as a “special guest from Romania” on the St Anza programme, and having been “harassed” by the former political regime, critics of the poet labelled him as a supporter and propagandist of Ceaucescu’s repressive regime. Paunescu’s 1983 poem, Romania’s future, gushed:”We have our own very such sun emerging from our capital city Bucharest. It is Ceaucescu.”

Constantin Roman, an honorary professor of the University of Bucharest, living and working in Cambridge, said compatriots should be outraged at any ‘celebration’ of Paunescu and his work. He said: “The Scots, along with others in the UK, have done many things for those in the Romanian orphanages, victims of Ceaucescu regime. What has Paunescu done? It is ironic that at a time when the people of Yugoslavia give a thumbs down to Milosevic, the University of St. Andrews has invited this fraud to their festival.”

The University of St Andrews were however quick to defend their decision to invite Adrian Paunescu. Dr Gavin Bowd, a lecturer in the French department of St Andrews university and one of the organisers of the festival, said: “Mr Paunescu formed an example of the expression of political thinking in poetry in eastern Europe, but in no way does his appearance equate with a condoning of Paunescu’s political outlook.”

And Fife Council, one of the main sponsors of the St Anza festival, are now conducting an enquiry after the criticism of the event. Councillor Christine May, leader of the Fife Council, said: “The council wasn’t aware of this person’s background. I certainly wouldn’t want to be associated with someone who promulgated racist views and I don’t think there is a single elected member of the council who would.”


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