Adrian Păunescu

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Adrian Păunescu
Păunescu in July 2009
Păunescu in July 2009
Born(1943-07-20)20 July 1943
Copăceni, Bălți County, Kingdom of Romania
(now Republic of Moldova)
Died5 November 2010(2010-11-05) (aged 67)
Bucharest, Romania
Resting placeBellu Cemetery
OccupationPoet, politician, journalist
Alma materUniversity of Bucharest
Notable worksUltrasentimente (1965), Flacăra magazine
(m. 1961⁠–⁠1976)
Carmen Păunescu (b. Antal)
(m. 1990)

Adrian Păunescu (Romanian pronunciation: [adriˈan pə.uˈnesku]; 20 July 1943 – 5 November 2010) was a Romanian writer, publisher, cultural promoter, translator, and politician. A profoundly charismatic personality, a controversial and complex figure, the artist and the man are almost impossible to separate. On the one hand he stands accused of collaboration with the Communist regime, but on the other hand he was persecuted and ostracised by the regime when he started to confront its failures, and when his influence stated to be considered dangerous.[1]

Though criticised for praising former Communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu,[2] Păunescu was called "Romania's most famous poet" in an Associated Press story, quoted by The New York Times.[2]


Born in Copăceni, Bălți County, in what is now the Republic of Moldova, Păunescu spent his childhood in Bârca, Dolj County. He started his secondary studies at the Frații Buzești National College in Craiova and then continued at Saint Sava National College in Bucharest.

Păunescu studied philology at the University of Bucharest and became a writer and journalist. He was an influential public figure for Romanian youth throughout the 1970s and early 1980s.[3] Though he was criticised for writing flattering poems about Nicolae Ceauşescu,[2] Păunescu remained popular in Romania,[2] where he appeared on television several times a week.[2]

As posthumously summarized by newspaper România Liberă, Păunescu "is still viewed as a hero by the man in the street"[3] although "intellectuals continue to question his integrity and the literary value of his work".[3]

Flacăra and Cenaclul Flacăra[edit]

A member of the Union of Communist Youth between 1966 and 1968, and, between 1968 and 1989, of the Romanian Communist Party, Păunescu gained control over a major weekly publication, Flacăra and became the producer and host of an immensely popular itinerant series of cultural events in the country, Cenaclul Flacăra, founded in 1973 and ended by the Communist authorities in 1985. The events included folk and pop music, poetry recitals, and Păunescu's personal and often rousing speeches. Through this cultural forum, Păunescu promoted Romanian poetry and music, instilling a nationalistic tone calling for pride in Romanian spiritual-artistic values and expression, seemingly as a counterpoint to the "puerile and pernicious" pop music (both Romanian and foreign) available on radio stations. Poets promoted included canonical names of Romanian literature: Mihai Eminescu, Lucian Blaga, Octavian Goga, George Bacovia, Nichita Stanescu, Ana Blandiana. Păunescu's own poems, recited at these events, have a social theme, about the life and difficulties of ordinary people. They remain very popular decades after, many Romanians being able to recite parts of them from memory.[4] The performers were a mix of professional artists as well as talented amateurs vetted by Păunescu himself. Many of these ”novices” have become famous performers, household names - for example Nicu Alifantis, Adrian Ivaniţchi, Marcela Saftiuc, Mădălina Amon, Ștefan Hrușcă, Mircea Baniciu, Mircea Vintilă, Tatiana Stepa and many others. At the height of its popularity, the events were gathering tens of thousands of young people, filling stadiums.[5]


As with the man, Adrian Păunescu's poetry is difficult to define or pigeonhole easily. On debut he writes in a modernist and mythological tone - reinterpreting old myths couched within abstract contemporary rhetoric. In this phase he also writes "pure poetry", similar to his illustrious contemporary Nichita Stănescu, although most people and literary critics mostly remember the later Păunescu poetry, the one moving to a Messianic tone, where his verses were sung and recited by thousands of young people in stadiums.[6] Regarding the later, singer and song-writer Daniel Reynaud, who occasionally performs (Australia, USA) songs on verses of Păunescu translated in English, expressed the opinion that Against War (Antirăzboinica - Verses Adrian Păunescu, music Valeriu Sterian, translation Daniel Ioniță) is on par with any anti war poem or song Bob Dylan, or anyone, might have written.[7]

According to literary critic Nicolae Manolescu, Adrian Păunescu is a both loved and loathed, authentic and false, capable of sublime poetry as well as mediocre slogans. He certainly irritates, be it by default or design: "I hate everything about his poet, apart from his poetry..." (Eugen Barbu). Păunescu is capable of large and swift movements of emotion and expression in his poetry, where loud posing can be followed by delicate doubt, and a pamphlet by a hymn. "A devilish body with an angel's soul".[8] Literary historian and critic Alex Ștefănescu is of the opinion that if professionally anthologised, liberated from its weaker parts, Adrian Păunescu's poetry could be on par with the best of what Romanian poetry has to offer.[9]

Political career[edit]

After 1989 Păunescu pursued a political career, aligning himself with socialism and then social-democratic political parties.

In 1996, he ran in that year's Romanian presidential election but received only 87,163 votes (0.69%). He was a senator from 1992 to 2008, representing Dolj County (1992–2004) and then Hunedoara County (2004–2008), initially representing the Socialist Labour Party (PSM), and later the Social Democratic Party of Romania (PSD). He received the most votes in his district at the 2008 election, but failed to win a seat after the votes were redistributed pursuant to the MMP system used.

Death and legacy[edit]

Bust of Păunescu at Grădina Icoanei in Bucharest

At aged 67, Păunescu was hospitalized on 26 October 2010 in the intensive care unit of the Floreasca Emergency Hospital in Bucharest, with problems of more vital organs caused by pulmonary edema. Păunescu had subsequent renal, liver and heart failure. He was declared dead at 7:15 AM, on 5 November 2010.[10] Survived by his wife and three children, Păunescu was posthumously thanked by Romania's president Traian Băsescu, who in saluting him mentioned only his contributions to art.[2]

In May 2012 a bronze bust of Păunescu, made by sculptors Ioan Deac-Bistrița and Dragoș Neagoe, was inaugurated at Grădina Icoanei, in central Bucharest.[11]


  • Ultrasentimente (1965)
  • Mieii primi (1966)
  • Fântâna somnambulă (1968)
  • Cărțile poștale ale morții (1970)
  • Aventurile extraordinare ale lui Hap și Pap (1970)
  • Viata de exceptii (1971)
  • Sub semnul întrebării (1971)
  • Istoria unei secunde (1971)
  • Lumea ca lume (1973)
  • Repetabila povară (1974)
  • Pământul deocamdată (1976)
  • Poezii de până azi (1978)
  • Sub semnul întrebării (1979)
  • Manifest pentru sănătatea pământului (1980)
  • Iubiți-vă pe tunuri (1981)
  • De la Bârca la Viena și înapoi (1981)
  • Rezervația de zimbri (1982)
  • Totuși iubirea (1983)
  • Manifest pentru mileniul trei (1984)
  • Manifest pentru mileniul trei (1986)
  • Locuri comune (1986)
  • Viața mea e un roman (1987)
  • Într-adevăr (1988)
  • Sunt un om liber (1989)
  • Poezii cenzurate (1990)
  • Romaniada (1993–1994)
  • Bieți lampagii (1993–1994)
  • Noaptea marii beții (1993–1994)
  • Front fără învingători (1995)
  • Infracțiunea de a fi (1996)
  • Tragedia națională (1997)
  • Deromânizarea României (1998)
  • Cartea Cărților de Poezie (1999)
  • Meserie mizarabilă, sufletul (2000)
  • Măștile însîngerate (2001)
  • Nemuritor la zidul morții (2001)
  • Până la capăt (2002)
  • Liber să sufăr (2003)
  • Din doi în doi (2003)
  • Eminamente (2003)
  • Cartea Cărților de Poezie (2003)
  • Logica avalanșei (2005)
  • Antiprimăvara (2005)
  • Ninsoarea de adio (2005)
  • Un om pe niște scări (2006)
  • De mamă și de foaie verde (2006)
  • Copaci fără pădure (2006)
  • Vagabonzi pe plaiul mioritic (2007)
  • Rugă pentru părinți (2007)
  • Încă viu (2008)
  • Libertatea de unică folosință (2009)

Presence in English language anthologies[edit]

  • Testament - 400 Years of Romanian Poetry - 400 de ani de poezie românească - bilingual edition - Daniel Ioniță (editor and principal translator) with Daniel Reynaud, Adriana Paul & Eva Foster - Editura Minerva, 2019 - ISBN 978-973-21-1070-6
  • Romanian Poetry from its Origins to the Present - bilingual edition English/Romanian - Daniel Ioniță (editor and principal translator) with Daniel Reynaud, Adriana Paul and Eva Foster - Australian-Romanian Academy Publishing - 2020 - ISBN 978-0-9953502-8-1 ; OCLC 1288167046
  • Testament – Anthology of Romanian Verse – American Edition - monolingual English edition - Daniel Ioniță (editor and translator), with Eva Foster, Daniel Reynaud and Rochelle Bews – Australian-Romanian Academy for Culture – 2017 – ISBN 978-0-9953502-0-5
  • The Bessarabia of my Soul / Basarabia Sufletului meu – a collection of poetry from the Republic of Moldova - bilingual English & Romanian - Daniel Ioniță and Maria Tonu (editors), with Eva Foster, Daniel Reynaud and Rochelle Bews – MediaTon – Toronto -Canada – 2018 – ISBN 978-1-7751837-9-2

Electoral history[edit]

Presidential elections[edit]

Election Affiliation First round Second round
Votes Percentage Position Votes Percentage Position
1996 PSM 87,163


  1. ^ Ioniță, Daniel (2020). Romanian Poetry from its Origins to the Present. Sydney: Australian-Romanian Academy Publishing. p. 1093. ISBN 978-0-9953502-8-1.
  2. ^ a b c d e f The New York Times, "Adrian Paunescu, Poet Who Praised a Dictator, Dies at 67" (with Associated Press), 7 November 2010 print edition, page A34 (via
  3. ^ a b c Presseurop, "Death of Ceauşescu's poet laureate" Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (with România Liberă), 8 November 2010,
  4. ^ Ștefănescu, Alex (2005). Istoria Literaturii Române Contemporane (in Romanian). Bucharest: Mașina de Scris. pp. 492–493. ISBN 973-8491-21-5.
  5. ^ Ioniță, Daniel (2019). Testament - 400 Years of Romanian Poetry / Testament 400 de ani de poezie românească (in English and Romanian). Bucharest: Minerva. p. 1059. ISBN 978-973-21-1070-6.
  6. ^ Ștefănescu, Alex (2005). Istoria literaturii române contemporane (in Romanian). Bucharest: Mașina de Scris. p. 493. ISBN 973-8491-21-5.
  7. ^ Ioniță, Daniel (6 June 2021). "Book Launches - 400 Years of Romanian Poetry & The Bessarabia of My Soul - 6 June 2021". YouTube. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  8. ^ Manolescu, Nicolae (2008). Istoria critică a literaturii române (in Romanian). Bucharest: Editura Paralela 45. pp. 1052–1053. ISBN 978-973-47-0359-3.
  9. ^ Ștefănescu, Alex (2005). Istoria literaturii române contemporane (in Romanian). Bucharest: Mașina de Scris. p. 502. ISBN 973-8491-21-5.
  10. ^ ""Poetul Adrian Păunescu a murit" (The poet Adrian Păunescu has died)". Archived from the original on 8 November 2010.
  11. ^ "Bustul lui Adrian Păunescu a fost dezvelit în Grădina Icoanei". Adevărul (in Romanian). 28 May 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2020.

External links[edit]

Official links