Miruna Vlada is a young Romanian poet and cultural facilitator born in Bucharest in 1986. Besides Bucharest, she lived and studied in Graz, Berlin, Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Prishtina. She published her first book when she was 18 – “Poemextrauterine / Ectopic Poems” (2004). The book received a series of national book prizes for debut in poetry and provoked a public debate about “feminine” writing. Her second book “Pauza dintre vene / Break Between Veins” was published in 2007, together with an audio book. She was included in several anthologies of the most important young Romanian poets and she was awarded by the Bucharest Writers’ Association.  In 2014 she published „Bosnia.Partaj” („Bosnia.Separation”) considered by the Romanian literary critics a „revival of Romanian political poetry”. The book was nominated for the best poetry book of the year by various literary magazines in Romania and it won the Best Poetry Book of the year Prize offered by the Radio Romania Cultural, the national broadcasting radio company. Selections of her poems have been translated into English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish. She is now working on her first novel.



‘I have never let my hair

grow since

I used to have the longest hair in the neighbourhood

my mom locked herself in the basement

and started to scream

after she saw me


I heard them speak in the kitchen

‘her hair uses much water

all our water for a week

she must wash it

but we won’t have anything to eat

what do we do?’


our neighbour had a big tailor’s scissors

she didn’t even bat an eye when I told her

that my mom had sent me

I was 16. it was a game.

I wanted to look like a boy

I wanted to save my family

I learnt to give up quickly

what I valued the most

that’s how I survived, together with my entire family


her hands shook a little

she was saying a prayer while cutting

when I took the bunch of black hair

in my hand (it must have weighed 2 kilos)

I felt it a bit wet and dirty

our neighbour started crying

and cursing Karadzić

I can still hear her


Oh, Iosip Broz, whom have you left us to?


you know, older women are more hysterical

every loss is irremediable to them

even cut hair hurts them

they feel losses deep down, to their guts

as if nothing can ever grow back

although hair always does

her and my mom would both drive me crazy

I couldn’t figure them out

there was death all around

and they were mourning my hair

my brothers wouldn’t have had anything to eat

it was normal for me to cut my hair

to save water

as each family was entitled to 5 buckets of water

a week

my hair

would use at least 2

it was Mathematics, not tragedy

either I didn’t wash it and get lice

or I washed it and left the family starving for 2-3 days



in our case, Mathematics is tragedy

how could it be possible to have something natural here left?


I wish it wouldn’t grow anymore

so I wouldn’t have to cut it all the time


I kept it in a box

I took it with me everywhere

it’s like having the luggage ready at all times


I’m scared to open it and look it in the eye, though

to me, it stinks


when he sees the box,

my husband tells me

‘it’s a pile of hair, unused

let’s do something good with it

let’s sell it to a wig store’


he has heard some of our family’s stories

that I had the greatest hair in the neighbourhood

it had reached mythological sizes in their stories

it was huge

possibly the longest black hair in the world


now, there’s no longer mythology

it’s nostalgia

cold as ice


no, no

I don’t want to give it away

I let it grow there, in the box

I keep it here

and know that maybe a head

going bald because of cytostatics

would need it

but I can’t bring myself to give it away

it smells bad

that hair is my soldier dead for freedom

I won’t give it away

I don’t want to give it away, is it so hard to understand?

go fuck yourselves with all your bald heads

I won’t give it away

I don’t care about your cancer

and your wigs

I’m healthy

and I survived the longest siege in modern military history


I sometimes go down to the basement to get my mom

and find her in the dark, stunt

banging her head loosely against the wall

I’ll keep it, mom, don’t worry

I gathered it all

And I’ll take it into the house

I won’t lose a hair

We’ll have soup all week’




‘in ’96,

I used to work at a local radio station


I used to love it

because I would remain by myself at times

in the sound room

and play with the buttons

I would turn the bass on and off

then on again

a bass that’s on

makes your ears buzz

and the loudspeaker vibrates smoothly

and you feel it in your chest

it was a reflex, I guess

to play with the buttons and feel in control of the bass

control and no remorse

looks like the war has taught me something, in the end’




‘one never gets bored here

well, all that drama

is indeed food for tears

or for scoff


and we, foreigners, are refugees

we came here

when they were heading West

they were leaving after the war as asylum-seekers

we were coming here to be hospitalised

like in a recovery centre

we have consumed lives

and we’re here for rehabilitation

they are looking for the Las Vegas we’ve left behind

and our skyscrapers

they are enjoying everything that run us down

look at us now

we are some refugees from the great capitals

here in Bosnia

we barely speak the language

and we keep on wondering of the life

that’s still poignant despite this debris

we are the filthy-rich brats of Europe

and we came to retrieve our inner peace in Sarajevo

when they were gathering the rubble

we wish to train our compassion

and taste the bitterness and rebecome human


it’s like we reached the party at its 5:00am-ish end

they are all leaving this country as if programmed to

but we come because we smell live flesh

and we ransack their abandoned lives

the hills of ants running in all the directions

they want to taste our hamburgers,

grow fat and watch MTV,

lead advertisement-like lives

they abandon themselves to us

and we abandon ourselves to their remains

we accommodate ourselves in the powder keg

«bosnia is our rehab»’



‘there’s something porno about this whole issue. It’s like a deal with tears and blood.

I find it horrible to talk about it, really

what to say?

that everything has fallen apart?

but yes, you’re right,

this helps Angelina Jolie come to Bosnia

to raise money against our tears

and to have a shoot, black veil on her head.

she does look nice, doesn’t she?

we are the new eccentric tattoo on her shoulder blade


Oh, dear Lara Croft, mother of my bereaved nation

adopt me

give me some kilos of cat food from the aids

and display all of my clichés on screen

show all the blackheads on my nose to the world

act brave with my cowardice

act porno with my pain

help me


they refuse to get it – Bosnia

was only hip in the 90’s!


ah, but wait-

they are obsessed by everything that’s vintage,

by the age-old hatred between peoples

the clash of civilisations for all

these consumers of highly-processed genocides,

are the last ones to still share interest in our dramas

and to still tuck us under their guiding wings

they come here to gain wealth against our tears

on the land of blood and honey1

it’s pathetic, don’t you agree?

they come here as if it were a second-hand shop

with nationalist 19th-century movements

they find this KinoBosna cool 2

we don’t.’



  1. The Land of Blood and Honey, film directed by Angelina Jolie in 2012, based on the Bosnian War.
  2. The name of a cinema in Sarajevo, during ex-Yugoslavia, that has now been transformed into a bar and a show theatre.