NPR commentator to speak at CU
A National Public Radio commentator and writer gave a speech Friday on exiles and immigration at the Norlin Library.
In addition to being a regular on the NPR program “All Things Considered,” Romanian-born Andrei Codrescu is also a professor at Louisiana State University and has published four books.
Codrescu visited CU to speak for the Center for Humanities and the Arts lecture series. This year the series is titled “Reaping Profits, Reckoning Loss.” His lecture, “Lose a Country, Gain a World: Reflections on Exile” focused on the exile of artists and the current American immigration problems. Codrescu sent the crowd into an uproar of laughter when he compared Romania to America.
“I was amazed that people knew how to wait in line (in America),” Codrescu said. “In Romania no one waited in line, because once you got to the end, then what?”
He discussed his own personal exile when he and his mother moved to America as somewhat surreal, saying that when he immigrated he was “high on imagination” and believed that imagination would solve all of his problems. Codrescu now thinks people are self-exiled, they remove themselves from society.
Codrescu made a point of expressing his thoughts on artist exiles. As an example, he used Ovid, whose exile led to the greatest work Ovid ever published. Codrescu said exile is good for artistry.
When one audience member asked him to further explain his thoughts on artists in exile, Codrescu said artists gain more from exile than other people ever would and that some great poetry came from exile.
“If you’re a writer, you’re in exile already,” Codrescu said.
In connecting exile to immigration, Codrescu explained his definitions of immigration as having seven different types of immigrants ranging from those who live vicariously in America over the Internet to those who he referred to as “professional immigrants” who are actually Americans but reap the benefits of being immigrants.
He also expressed confusion at the American view of immigration. Codrescu said America wants immigrants to “get in and stay out” at the same time.
“The only borders keeping people in or out are imaginary,” Codrescu said.
While adamant about having moved to America at 19 years old and easily adapting, Codrescu, who worked with help from his mother to keep his Romanian accent, retains an intimate love for his home country.
Codrescu continues to edit an online literary journal and is regularly featured on NPR.
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