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Pals, Sesto

(1913–2002), poet. Sesto Pals (Simion Şestopali) was born in Odessa. His family fled to Galați, Romania, after the Russian Revolution. Having obtained the status of Italian subject, his father changed the family name from Sestopali and moved in 1920 to Bucharest, where Pals completed high school. During this period he became friends with Gherasim Luca, Geo Bogza, and Paul Păun, future prominent avant-garde poets. With Aurel Baranga and the painter Jules Perahim, Pals edited the avant-garde literary review Alge (1930; 1933). From that point on, he adopted Sesto Pals as his pen name.

Accused of pornography, the young editors of Alge were sent to court and imprisoned for 10 days. This episode had a profound affect on Pals, and he stopped publishing his work. Pals then enrolled in engineering school and graduated in 1940 from the Bucharest Polytechnic Institute. Prevented by new racial laws from working as an engineer, he was drafted for compulsory labor and worked on railroads in 1942. When the war ended, he worked in rail construction and managed a research laboratory devoted to mineralogy.

As a result of his request to immigrate to Israel during the late 1960s, Pals was again persecuted by Romanian authorities and lost his position. In 1970, his request to leave was finally granted, and in Israel he worked as an engineer until retiring in 1982. Throughout this period he continued to write, mostly poetry, but around the time of his immigration he had begun to explore topics in philosophy as well.

Pals began publishing again in 1982, first in the Romanian-language literary magazine Izvoare. The journal Mele (edited by Stefan Baciu in Honolulu) dedicated a special issue to his poems, translated by Geo Bogza. Pals’s poems were also published in Don Quijote (Lausanne), Argo (Bonn), and Adevărul literar şi artistic (Bucharest), as well as in Israel. His first volume of poetry, Omul ciudat (The Strange Man), was published only in 1998, in Bucharest, with another edition in 2003. One of the most gifted poets of the Romanian avant-garde, Pals was part of a generation of intellectuals condemned to silence first by the right-wing dictatorship and, after World War II, by the Communist regime. His poetry has aroused great interest in the postcommunist years, especially among young readers.

Suggested Reading

Michael Finkenthal, “Dosar Sesto Pals,” Apostrof 14.10 (2003): 13; Michael Finkenthal, “Sesto Pals sau poezia omului ciudat,” Observator cultural, no. 169 (20–26 May 2003): 9; Nicolae Țone, ed., “Noaptea asta e foarte tirziu si nu cunosc scrisul in care scriu,” [preface to] Omul ciudat, by Sesto Pals, pp. 7–11 (Bucharest, 2003).