English, please

Culture Questionnaire: Tara Skurtu

by Tara Skurtu

The 6th edition of the Power of Storytelling conference is coming up, on October 14-15, at the Pullman Hotel, part of Bucharest's World Trade Center. We know that poets and journalists, illustrators and musicians are coming over to speak before us. We consume their work and enjoy listening to them, but we also want to know what they enjoy. What moves them? What have they been reading lately, what did they like? What do they recall from their childhood? Some of the speakers from this year's edition of the Power of Storytelling agreed to answer the questions in this questionnaire, obviously inspired by the Proustian version.

Tara Skurtu is a poet, translator, and teacher from Florida. She's currently a Fulbright lecturer at the Transylvania University in Brașov.  She is the recipient of two Academy of American Poets prizes and her work has been published in The Kenyon Review, Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, and Plume. Her debut collection of poems, The Amoeba Game, will be translated by Radu Vancu, to be published by Charmides. You can read some of her poems here and here.

What are you reading right now? Why?

Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings, because I hear it’s a stunner of a novel (and because fiction is fun—I don’t edit it in my mind the way I do when reading poetry).

What are you seeing through the window?

This question has great timing. Last night I dreamt I was looking into the windows of an apartment block and all I saw were asses.

What is the best trip you ever took as a child?

My dad used to drive us past a “do not enter” sign and park next to this massive commercial hill of sand in town by the river, and we’d run up to the top and roll down.

What are the three best things you discovered this summer?

  1. My Romanian is not so bad after all.
  2. Up until last week, every time I tried to say “I don’t have the words for this” in Romanian, I was actually saying “I’m speechless”—nu am cuvinte. (And now I know why I’ve been getting strange looks in response.)
  3. The Black Sea.

What song is the best for packing up your bags and leaving?

Beyoncé’s Formation on repeat.

What is the one living person you most admire, and why?

My dad. He’s always teaching himself new things, doesn’t give a shit about what anyone thinks, and mostly, with him, ANYTHING can happen at any time.

What’s at no. 3 on your bucket list?

My entire bucket list is to be living good days in a place I like with the people I love—and not having to worry about money. Maybe no. 3 would combine these elements: flying my father to Romania for a visit.

What’s your favorite word?

I can’t name one, because I have two: crepuscular and callipygous.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Lloyd Schwartz and Elizabeth Bishop.

Who would direct the movie of your life, and why?

I suck at directors so I asked my good friend, writer Margot Miller, to answer this for me: “Maybe Stanley Kubrick or James Cameron because it’ll be long.”

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Questions: Luiza Vasiliu and Ioana Pelehatăi

Facilitation: Ioana Burtea

Illustration: Ioana Șopov

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