Kacper Bartczak

Growing up to Różewicz

It’s not easy to comment in any sort of statement that smacks of literature, in writing, on the person, the writing, and the legacy of Tadeusz Różewicz, as I once shared a nonliterary space with him. These are memories beyond assigned reading from school. They come from living in the town of Gliwice, where he spent many years, and they come from working with him in my role as an editor of his final volumes at the Wrocław publisher Biuro Literackie.

Nine Poems by Marta Podgórnik (b. 1979)

Ovulation Blues

Nothing for it these days but Lipton tea with

chapbooks by Bohdan Zadura or practicing elocution

in front of the brown mirror.

 

At the bus stop, blowing your nose straight into

the trash, holding one nostril,

and in the Czech manner mixing up the bus numbers,

Two Poems by Marcin Sendecki (b. 1967)

[Jump]

Night yelps Day burns

Maybe later

Some kind of later whence

Under a heavy eyelid

 

On a bone-chilled beach

A delicious afternoon

Ready for the road

The wave waits

Singular Różewicz

When he was still alive, on his ninetieth birthday, I got to thinking: what is the actual status of his writing? Does it really constitute a primary reference point for poets writing today? There used to be a cliché making the rounds in our literary culture, which had it that Różewicz lived to see the greatest number of epigones. Well, maybe. Except that his writing is so very singular that it is entirely nonproductive of followers. In this, it is analogous to the writing of Witold Wirpsza, Miron Białoszewski, or Rafał Wojaczek.

Matching Różewicz

In one of his famous poems Tadeusz Różewicz writes about his “homework” — it is the “creation of poetry after Auschwitz.” The poem dates from the 1970s and it is deeply ironic, very much like most of Różewicz’s greatest poems. And just like many other of his monumental statements, the “creation of poetry after Auschwitz” keeps coming up in simpleminded interpretations as a handy emblem of all of Rożewicz’s oeuvre. Apparently, that’s the way it’s going to be. But Różewicz’s true greatness is far from handy — it is ambiguous, aporetic, full of doubt, even doubtful.

Two Poems by Krzystof Siwczyk (b. 1977)

A Distillate

Small facial bones pointing at. 
Here rests the kingdom of this world.

The infiltration of trees increases, it overtakes the camp,

Behind which the sun fades, chaffs and

All of that sees us.

Most clearly.

 

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