© Costi Duma

Tudor Crețu (b. 1980) began to write poetry on a „Sunday, bloody Sunday”, sometimes in the sixth grade. He published his first book of poetry in 2001. In 2002 he graduated from the university and started his Phantom Diary, which he is still writing. In 2011 he obtained a PhD in Comparative Literature and  he became manager of the Timiş County Library. There he starts a series of projects that will receive two awards (2012&2013) for “the best library” at “Bun de tipar” [“Imprimatur”], the Romanian Book Industry Gala. He has published three books of poetry: Dantelăriile Adelei (Adela’s Lacery), Mirton, 2001. The national award of the Pavel Dan literary circle; Obiectele oranj (The Orange Objects), Vinea, 2005; Fragmente continue. Poeme live (Continuous Fragments. Live Poems), Printpress, 2014, which received The Poetry Book of the Year award of the Romanian Writers` Union, the Banat branch. He also published three novels: Omul negru (The Bogeyman), Cartea românească, 2008 and Casete martor (Witness Tapes), Tracus Arte, 2013 (The book earned the author a nomination as the Young Prose Writer of the Year, at the Romanian Young Authors` Gala), followed by S…(Casete martor II) (S… Witness Tapes II), Tracus Arte, 2015. In 2016, he published Jurnal fantasmatic (Phantom Diary, Paralela 45 Publishing House). His writing can be described as deeply experimental and iconoclastic in nature. Tudor Crețu chooses to express himself in a variety of media (text, image, video).


(Excerpt from S… Witness Tapes 2, a novel)

I went through all the jackets, I turned the pockets inside out: all I could find was some change, five or ten lei. So, just like in one of those TV quizzes, I rang a friend. I rang Flaviu. And I promised: you’ll get it back as soon as I get it. From the bank. He hesitated briefly, tut-tutted.

OK, come around noon on Friday then.”

He was wearing his familiar dark blue tracksuit.

Should we go in or…”

The hallway was gloomy, chilly.

Hang on for just a second.”

He took out a hundred euro note and gave it to me.

Are you sure you don’t need more?”

It’s fine, thanks much. I’m just waiting to be approved for a credit.”

As soon as we came out into the light, I asked:

And Jacob?”

Come, come see him!”

The dead was eating soup. The chemotherapy was almost over. He’d got terribly skinny. He’d lost that something, what do they call it, the essence. He barely filled out the pyjamas. Nevertheless, he shook my hand hard. He also clenched his teeth, I noticed. I smiled back, grinding my teeth. And I let go:

Health to you!”

I almost grabbed his shoulder, almost, but I refrained. My hand would have turned into a hook, my bones into white iron.

Ol’ Jacob…”

He was red in the face, rather like the soup. His colon was worn out like a crumpled tape.

My, how he’s lost weight, that Edi …”

Flaviu added:

Rather well! Will I pour you some…”

I could bet: brandy.

No, thanks, I’m wrestling with some kind of gastritis as it is.”

And we went out. The dead continued to eat calmly. He felt he was being inspected, examined. From up close or from the threshold. He simply continued to exist. He would bang his spoon, now against the plate, now against the potato, which he scratched and poked. Then he would stroke his cheekbones. He probably compared their roundness with that of the food. He still hadn’t given up mackerel tins. Fish too, though, he mostly shredded, with a fork. He no longer soaked the oil with a piece of bread.

I expected him to say something: he’d also had stomach troubles, ulcers I think. He used to drive a blue Dacia, the niftiest in the village. He would keep it outside, in the street, at night too, wouldn’t pull it into the yard. I myself thought it looked like a refrigerating object: I would study it from a distance, from under the mulberry-tree. I lived across from him, about fifty yards to the right. But no… He lifted the plate to his mouth and drained the last drops.

Come, I’ll pour you some! It’s got sea-buckthorn and honey, pure medicine, I tell you!

So that’s what that is…”


That kind of brandy, I take it, good for the stomach. Which you drink in the morning…”

The sea-buckthorn floated feeble. The liquor was weak, light yellow. We sat down on some kind of makeshift terrace.

A wee place in the evening, you know…”

He almost crushed an empty Tuborg can, he scrunched it.

So it’s clear, the verdict’s certain…”

That’s life, you can’t…”

Well, you do have that kind of cynicism… Me, anyway, that’s really why I went out, I just couldn’t think of anything to say to him. I felt totally useless.

Yeah, what can you say. Basically, you can’t lie to him anymore.

There, health to you!”

And we clinked our glasses.

And you, how are you….”

Can’t complain, thank god. I mean, I don’t know, these years feel like platinum, at least that’s how I want to live them.”

So how’s it going then, you’re starving, eh?”

No, well”, I put the glass on the little table, “it’s not like I had to lose weight. I’m on the drycooker now, once a week I eat out. At the ‘Note’, where else…

That’s good, doing well…”

Yeah, but Jacob…”

And I dropped my head again.

Nah, don’t now, leave it…”

The word had been haunting me since the morning in various forms: leave, leaving. It made me startle, like a title.

It’s easier, when, if…”

(He started going to church too).

If you see it like a…”

(The door was cut in a sheet of puffed up plastic.)

Like a trip, well, like a…”

(The bus didn’t have window panes. The frames, however, were sheer luxury: rare stainless steel, the kind antennas were made of. The departure point was, as in fourth grade, by the school.)

Mister Nelu, greetings!”

A neighbour strolled by as if down the main drag.

Come now!”

Wait, I’ll just say good-bye.”

And we went back in. The dead was eating a piece of cake.

See you this summer, at the Danube, fishing!”

He just stretched out his hand. He said nothing.