Carmen Bugan reads at the BRLSI

On Monday 11 June, Carmen Bugan, who flew in from her home in Switzerland, read from her new book Burying the Typewriter, a moving and dramatic memoir of her childhood in Ceauşescu’s Rumania. We followed her earliest idyllic years growing up on her grandparents’ farm in rural Rumania, through the nightmare years of surveillance and persecution, to her eventual flight with her family as political refugees to the US. It was Carmen, aged only 17 and on her own, who made the hazardous journey to the US embassy in Bucharest to request political asylum for the family – she was the only member of the family who had a reasonable chance of getting there without being arrested and imprisoned, or simply assassinated.
Carmen is the daughter of political activist, Ion Bugan, who mounted a one-man public protest against the Ceauşescu dictatorship, for which he was imprisoned for 7 years. From that time onwards her family suffered harsh privations, isolated and under surveillance in their home village. And the title of the book? For years before his public protest, her father was secretly producing anti-government leaflets; to avoid the police matching the type on these leaflets to the characteristic type of his typewriter, he typed each night from a second, secret typewriter which he buried in the garden. During his imprisonment, her father was adopted as an Amnesty International ‘prisoner of conscience’, and Bath Amnesty group attended the BRLSI events to honour the bravery of Ion Bugan.
On Tuesday 12 June, Carmen returned again to BRLSI to read from her award-winning volume of poetry Crossing the Carpathians. As well as being a celebrated poet, Carmen held a Creative Arts Fellowship at the University of Oxford, where she completed a doctorate on the work of Seamus Heaney. This is due to be published in September 2012, as Seamus Heaney and East European Poetry in Translation: Poetics of Exile.
Carmen Bugan made an appearance on BBC’s Radio 4’s ‘Midweek’ immediately following her two talks at the Institution, and her memoir Burying the Typewriter will be serialized as Radio 4’s  ‘Book of the Week’ in early July.
Submitted by MLL