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Andrei Codrescu is a Romanian-born American poet, novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and commentator for National Public Radio. He was Mac Curdy Distinguished Professor of English at Louisiana State University from 1984 until his retirement in 2009.
Born as Andrei Perlmutter on December 20, 1946 in Sibiu, Romania, he published his first poems in the Romanian language under the pen name Andrei Steiu. In 1965 he left the country to escape from the communist regime. After time in Italy, he emigrated to the United States in 1966, and settled in Detroit where he became a regular at John Sinclair’s Artists and Writers’ Workshop. A year later he moved to New York where he became part of the literary scene on the Lower East Side. There he met Allen Ginsberg, Ted Berrigan, and Anne Waldman, and published his first poems in English.
In 1970, his poetry book, License to Carry a Gun, won the "Big Table Award". He moved to San Francisco in 1970, and lived on the West Coast for seven years, four of those in Monte Rio, a Sonoma County town on the Russian River. He also lived in Baltimore (where he taught at Johns Hopkins University), New Orleans and Baton Rouge, publishing a book every year, and actively participating in literary life by writing poetry, stories, essays and reviews for many publications, including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Harper's, and the Paris Review. He had regular columns in The Baltimore Sun, the City Paper, Architecture, Funny Times, Gambit Weekly, and Neon. He has been a regular commentator on National Public Radio’s news program, All Things Considered, since 1983. He won the 1995 Peabody Award for the film Road Scholar, an American road saga that he wrote and starred in, and is a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. He has been called “one of our most magical writers” by The New York Times.
In 1989, Codrescu's coverage of the Romanian Revolution of 1989 for National Public Radio and ABC News’ Nightline, was critically acclaimed, and his renewed interest in Romanian language and literature led to new work written in Romanian, including “Miracle and Catastrophe”, a book-length interview conducted by the theologian Robert Lazu, and “The Forgiven Submarine”, an epic poem written in collaboration with poet Ruxandra Cesereanu, which won the 2008 Romania Radio Cultural award. His books were translated into Romanian by Ioana Avadani, Ioana Ieronim, Carmen Firan, Rodica Grigore, and Lacrimioara Stoie. In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious international Ovidius Prize (also known as the Ovid Prize), previous winners of which include Mario Vargas Llosa, Amos Oz, and Orhan Pamuk.
In 1981, Codrescu became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He is the editor and founder of the online journal Exquisite Corpse, a journal of “books and ideas”. He reigned as King of the Krewe du Vieux for the 2002 New Orleans Mardi Gras season. He has two children, Lucian and Tristan, from his marriage to Alice Henderson, and is currently married to Laura Cole.
Note: Most of the fiction, poetry, and several of the essay books were published in translation in Romanian, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Greek, Czech, Slovak, and Russian.
On the December 19, 1995, broadcast of All Things Considered, Codrescu reported that some Christians believe in a "rapture" and 4 million believers will ascend to Heaven immediately. He continued, "The evaporation of 4 million who believe this crap would leave the world an instantly better place."
Olson, Kirby. Andrei Codrescu and the Myth of America (McFarland Press, 2006). A book-length study of Andrei Codrescu and his work. Includes five interviews with Codrescu and a scholarly chapter by a Romanian professor about Codrescu from the Romanian perspective.
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