Presently considered as the most important translator of Romanian literature into English, Semilian has focused upon the Romanian-Jewish writers of the avant-garde, particularly that written between the two World Wars.  

Andrei Codrescu has this to say about Semilian's translations of Paul Celan:

"Paul Celan, the Jewish, Romanian, German, French poet, has become the raw material of so much critical processing, it has become difficult to read him without hearing the voices of commentators. The continual buzzing of the interpretive chorus around Celan’s poetry has nearly added another layer of pain to work that is already written at the synapses of raw nerves. I say “nearly,” because happily there is Julian Semilian who translates the poetry as if there are only two entities in the room: Psyche and Echo. Celan wouldhave been proud to be thus refreshed."

Selected Translations:

THE INVENTOR OF LOVE & OTHER WORKS, poems by Gherasim Luca, Black Widow Press, 2009, with Laura Semilian (upcoming)

SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER, by Kerry Kennedy, translation into Romanian, Curtea Veche Press, 2009, with Diana Nicolae

 ANDREI SERBAN,  an illustrated retrospective of the life and art of the celebrated theatre director,  Romanian Cultural Center, with Laura Semilian (upcoming)

 BORN IN UTOPIA: Anthology of Romanian Literature, Talisman, 2007. Selections of Romanian poetry relating to the avant-garde.

 NOSTALGIA, novel by Mircea Cartarescu, New Directions, 2005

 DESPERATE CONQUESTS, poems by Carmen Firan, ICR, 2005

 PAUL CELAN’S ROMANIAN POEMS , Green Integer, 2003

 WORDS WITHOUT BORDERS:  the On-Line Magazine for International Literature, October 2004:

  “ Nabokov in Brasov,” short story, by Mircea Cartarescu


   “To Live in Sin,” novel excerpt by Virgil Duda


   “A Friend of the Archangel,” short story by Gabriela Melinescu


   “L’apparition,” poem by Mariana Marin


   “Red and White,” poem by Mariana Marin


   “Mynheer,” poem by Mariana Marin


  “The Karenina Complex,” poem by Mariana Marin


   “Beretta,” poem by Mariana Marin



 “The Roulette Player” by Mircea Cartarescu (NOSTALGIA excerpt)


CENTRAL EUROPEAN AVANT-GARDES: Exchange and Tranformation (1910-1930) , Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MIT Press, Exhibition Catalogue, 2002

Ioana Vlasiu, “Bucharest”


BETWEEN WORLDS:  A Sourcebook of Central European Avant-Gardes, 1910-1930, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MIT Press, Exhibition Compendium, 2002

Ioana Vlasiu, “Bucharest”

Ion Minulescu, “’Fragment from “Light the Torches’” (1908)

N.D. Cocea, “The Exhibit of Painting and Drawing:  Derain, Forain, Galanis, Iser” (1909)

Theodor Cornel, “Fragment from Tinerimea Artistica Exhibition Catalogue” (1910)

Theodor Cornel, “New Guidelines in Art” (1910)

Editors of Insula, “Statement” (1912)

Ion Vinea, “Warning” (1912)

Marcel Ianco, “Art Notes” (1924)

Ilarie Voronca, “Victor Brauner,” (1924)

Victor Brauner and Ilarie Voronca, “Pictopoetry” (1924)

Ilarie Voronca, “Assesments” (1924)

Scarlat Calimachi, “The Contimporanul Exhibition” (1924)

Tudor Vianu, “The First Contimporanul International Exhibition” (1924)

Ilarie Voronca, “Marcel Ianco” (1924)

M.H. Maxy, “Visual Chrono-metering” 1924

Felix Aderca, “Conversations with Lucian Blaga” (1925)

Ilarie Voronca, “Grammar” (1925)

Ilarie Voronca, “Voices” (1925)

Oscar Walter Cisek, “The International Exhibition Organized by the Magazine Contimporanul” (1925)

Ilarie Voronca, “Surrealism and Integralism” (1925)

Mihai Cosma, “From Futurism to Integralism” (1925)

Corneliu Michailescu, “Black Art” (1925)

Militsa Petrascu, “Note About Sculpture” (1925)

G.C. Jacques, “Initiation in the Mysteries of an Exhibition: The Sensational”

“Pronouncements of Militsa Petrascu and Marcel Ianco” (1926)

Geo Bogza, “Urmuz”, 1928

Marcel Ianco, “Reflections on Cubism” (1928)

Ionel Jianu, “Fragments from “A Contribution to Our History of Modernism: What A Young Painter Tells Us” (1928)

Ilarie Voronca, “M.H. Maxy” (1930)

Ilarie Voronca, “Victor Brauner” (1930)

Ion Vinea and Marcel Ianco, “Marinetti” (1930)

Ilarie Voronca, “F.T. Marinetti” (1930)


PRIMARY DOCUMENTS:   A Sourcebook for Eastern and Central European Art since the 1950s.  The Museum of Modern Art, MIT Press, 2002:

Geta Bratescu, “Sleep;” “Awakening;” “The Game”

Coriolan Babeti, “The Bertalan Case: The Artistic Experiment as an Exercise and Neurotic Sublimation”





Semilian has concentrated on translating poetry of the Romanian avant-garde.   These include Paul Celan, Gellu Naum, Tristan Tzara, Benjamin Fondane, Stefan Augustin Doinas, Tudor Arghezi, Urmuz, Gherasim Luca, Ilarie Voronca, Geo Bogza, and Mircea Cartarescu.

His translations have appeared in such magazines as: Exquisite Corpse, Suitcase, Arshile, World Letter, Mr. Knife & Miss Fork, Ribbot, Transcendental Friend , Syllogism, Callaloo, Sun & Moon Kenning Review, Trepan, Urvox, , Fascicle, MiPoesia, and Talisman.