Poetry Sydney is an independent literary organisation committed to a presence for poetry in our culture.

The Universal within the Local: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Poet

l a n g u a g e / p o e t r y / m u s i c / p e r f o r m a n c e

The Universal within the Local is a cultural event that celebrates Romania's national poet, Mihai Eminescu.

Poetry Sydney partners with the Australian Romanian Academy (ACA), to present a literary arts event that celebrates the cultural significance of Mihai Eminescu, as the National Poet of Romania.

The Romanian Parliament introduced a National Culture Day in 2010, on the day of the birth of Mihai Eminescu’s, January 15. The homage is emblematic of his European influences that includes ancient India and China, and his deep national connections.

The event will be exponential in providing the antipodean community an opportunity to connect and strengthen relations in Sydney, Australia and Romania.

This is the second collaboration between Poetry Sydney and the Australian-Romanian Academy which introduces the event as an annual presentation in January to align with the official Romanian National Cultural Day in 2024.

The 19th century Romanian poet and writer, Mihai Eminescu is considered a romantic poetic who wrote on a wide range of themes from nature to love, to deep social commentary. In years after his death, the poems and writing of Eminescu had a profound impact on the Romanian society.

Daniel Ionita, President ACA, academic, poet and the curatorial advisor for The Universal within the Local, has chosen an Eminescian theme brought to a contemporary setting, to mark the 14 years of the National Culture Day.   This year’s artistic vision works across time periods, beyond the borders separating cultural practices from Romania the rich heritage of what is known today as Australia.

Inna Blomma: Physalis © 2023. All rights reserved.

Curatorial Statement

This year the theme The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Poet exemplifies Eminsecu’s epic poem The Evening Star – Lucifer. The title paraphrases the classic British Lion Film of 1962, which was adapted from Alan Sillitoe’s collection of best-selling short stories that portray the isolation, criminality, morality and rebellion of the working class.

Daniel Ionita poses questions that deal with the loneliness, estrangement, dissociation of the poet (artist) in a world increasingly mechanised and atomised. How do we respond? Do we retreat into smaller circles of like-minded people? Do we give-up or attempt to build bridges? How do we reach out?


Following on from last year’s event at the State Library of NSW, Australian poets have been invited to respond to the Eminescu theme.  We present a range of media with the introduction of Puppet Theatre in a representational performance of The Evening Star theme, and the premiere screening of a video poem produced for this 2024 reiteration.  Finally Daniel Ionita will present a selection of Romanian poetry put to music, performed in language and English. 

Protagonists: Inna Blomma / Tatiana Bonc-Osmolovskaya / Anne Casey / Tug Dumbly / Charles Freyberg / James Gering / Dimitra Harvey / Daniel Ionita / Anisoara Laura Mustetiu / Lenka Muchova / George Roca / Angela Stretch

Inna Blomma is a Ukrainian artist. In many of her works, she captures the beauty and complexity of flowers and plants through realistic paintings done in watercolour or acrylics. Physalis is part of a collection of paintings of flowers, which have a special connection to Inna’s home city of Kyiv.

Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya was born in Crimea, Ukrainian Soviet Republic of the former Soviet Union. She studied physics at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and philology at Moscow State Humanitarian University, where she earned a PhD in Russian experimental poetry. In 2003, Tatiana moved to Sydney, where she received a PhD degree from UNSW, on contemporary Russian poetry. Tatiana is an author of a great number of publications in Russian, including award-winning collections of short stories and essays. Her poetry and short stories in English appeared in magazines, journals and anthologies: London Grip, POEM, Rochford Street Review, Can I tell you a secret? Not So Quiet, Skywriters, Across the Russian Wor(l)d, Bridges, Transitions; East West Literary Forum, Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, and other editions. Tatiana is also a researcher and an editor of Articulation literary journal (in Russian), and Board member of PEN Moscow. Tatiana lives and works in Sydney, Australia. In the time of the Russian war against Ukraine, Tatiana totally and completely stands with Ukraine.

Anne Casey is originally from the west of Ireland and lives in Sydney, she is author of five poetry collections. A journalist and legal author for 30 years, her work is widely published internationally, ranking in The Irish Times’ Most Read. Anne has won literary awards in Ireland, Australia, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Lebanon, India and the USA, most recently American Writers Review 2021, the iWoman Global Award for Literature and the Henry Lawson Prize 2022. She received an Australian Government scholarship and a bursary for her PhD in archival poetics at the University of Technology Sydney where she researches and teaches. anne-casey.com @1annecasey

Tug Dumbly is a Nowra-born poet and performer who has lived in Sydney since the last Ice Age. He has worked extensively in radio, venues and schools, and founded a couple of seminal live poetry nights in Sydney. He has performed his work as resident-poet on ABC radio (Triple J, ABC 702), and released two spoken-word CDs through the ABC. His awards include the Banjo Paterson Prize for Comic Verse (twice), and Nimbin Performance Poetry World Cup (thrice). His poems have appeared in many journals and newspapers and he has been shortlisted several times for major awards, including the Newcastle Poetry Prize (3 times), the Vice Chancellor’s Poetry Prize (twice) and the ACU Poetry Prize (2021). In 2020 he won the Booranga Poetry Prize. His first poetry collection, Son Songs, came out in 2018 through Flying Islands Books. He likes photography and nature, especially cicadas.

Charles Freyberg is a Kings Cross (Sydney) poet and performer. In the 1990s he worked as an actor and director, especially with the surreal clown Victor Sheehan, his first poetic mentor. His own writing started with drag shows and performance art staged at Club Bent at the Performance Space in the late 90s and with a number of plays. He studied poetry at postgraduate level at the University of Sydney, supervised by Judith Beveridge. His poems have been published in Meanjin, Plumwood Mountain, Urban Village, Sappho and other anthologies. His two books have been published by Ginninderra Press, Dining at the Edge and the Crumbling Mansion. He performs his work widely around Sydney. He staged a one person show of the Crumbling Mansion at El Rocco Kings Cross which also toured to Newcastle. He is a founding member of the poetry and music group the Fierce Violets. He gives thanks to all the beautiful enlivening eccentrics who have inspired him.

James Gering, poet, diarist and short story writer, has received various international awards for his stories and poems, and he is the Australian Society of Authors Emerging Poet of the Year, 2018. His writing has appeared in many journals around the world including Meanjin, Cordite and Rattle. His first collection of poetry, Staying Whole While Falling Apart, was released by Interactive Press in 2021. His second collection, Tickets to the Fall of Icarus, was released by the same publisher in December 2023. James lives in the Blue Mountains near Sydney. There he climbs the cliffs and hikes the trails in search of Beveridge’s wisdom, Ernaux’s emotional truth and Kafka’s dreamscapes. James welcomes visitors at jamesgering.com

Dimitra Harvey was born in Sydney to a Greek mother, and grew up on Wangal country. She has a Bachelor of Performance Studies from the University of Western Sydney, and a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of Sydney. Her poems have appeared in SoutherlyMeanjinMascara Literary ReviewCordite, and Philament, as well as anthologies such as The Best Australian Poems 2017, and speculative poetry anthology The Stars Like Sand. In 2012, she won the Australian Society of Authors’s Ray Koppe Young Writer’s Residency.

Daniel Ioniță (Emcee) is an Australian poet and translator of Romanian origin. He has had his own work published in both his native Romania as well as Australia and the USA.  Daniel has been published in bilingual anthologies as a principal translator and editor of volumes such as Testament – 400 Years of Romanian Poetry, a comprehensive collection of Romanian poetry in English from its origins until today. This volume won the most important translation award in Romania, for representing Romanian literature into a foreign language, the Antoaneta Ralian Prize awarded by the International Bookfair Gaudeamus-Bucharest 2019. Other such anthologies include The Bessarabia of My Soul, a representation, also in English, of poets from the Republic of Moldova (for which Daniel was awarded the Poetry Prize of the Literature & Art magazine in the Republic of Moldova – 2018), and Return Ticket from Sydney to Bistrita, A Lyrical Carousel between the Antipodes. His latest collection, Pentimento, has recently been published by Interactive Publications earlier this year.  Daniel is the current president of the Australian-Romanian Academy for Culture.

Anisoara Laura Mustetiu was born in Timisoara, Romania. She emigrated to Germany where she studied journalism and German Literature, and developed a career in Marketing for two decades. In 2014 she settled in Hornsby, Sydney, where she writes, and produces a cultural radio program (Emotions and Love) for Radio-ProDiaspora, a cultural Romanian station broadcasting in over 100 countries. In 2017 Anisoara finished a Bachelor of Communication, with majors in Creative Writing and Business Communication from Griffith University, Australia.

Adriana Paul has a particular affinity for translating poetry and song lyrics and has worked professionally in translation and interpreting, being fluent in five languages. Holding a Ph.D. in Physiology from the Université Laval (Quebec, Canada), Adriana has also worked as a scientist, conducting research and publishing in peer reviewed scientific magazines. Sydney based since her adolescence, Adriana is a Romanian-born lyric soprano. She has studied bel canto at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and has been performing in Australia and Canada as a recital soloist, in shows and in shows and concerts, collaborating with renowned vocal groups such as The Tallis Scholars (UK) and Amarcord Ensemble (Germany).

Lenka Muchova is an award-winning puppeteer of Czech theatre and literary traditions who lives in greater Sydney. Creating the set design, puppets whose characters are real or imaginary, are mostly made of wood and animated using various methods to convey a vision of the world, and an educational tool with messages on moral values.

George Roca was born in Huedin-Cluj in Transylvania (Romania), George Roca settled in Australia in 1982. Before that, he studied and worked in Theatre (in Romania) as well as in the Tourism Industry. He is known as a writer, translator, editor and publisher. He has been editor-in-chief, as well as editor, of some of the most prestigious Romanian print and on-line literary and cultural magazines, whether published in Romania, Germany, USA or Australia. He also worked for the Australian Council for the Arts and continues to work in publishing.

Angela Stretch is a Sydney based poet, curator, writer and organiser from Christchurch, New Zealand.  The artist uses language and poetry through different mediums and has been exhibited and published nationally, and internationally.  She is the director of Poetry Sydney, intelligent animal, and is the secretary of the Surry Hills Business Partnership, which supports this event. She produces and presents Arts Friday on Eastside Radio and is an administrator at Arts Law Centre of Australia.

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