translation

Sixteen Poems by Wojciech Bonowicz (b. 1967)

Absolution

Who’s ashamed for having written about God?

God no longer has that letter: he tears up our requests.

Penetrates our diaries and kindly erases

confessions dictated by youth and naïve faith.

He could be more tenacious — L. says about God.

Let him be rather more like us — what a foolish human dream.

Różewicz, close to reality

Różewicz is one of the “primary care” poets in Poland. I got to know him years back, in primary school. When I started writing at the age of eighteen, I shamelessly imitated his poems, because he seemed easy to imitate. Numerous budding Polish poets still fall victim to his poetry’s illusory simplicity. I soon became aware that I was not able to imitate Różewicz well. Luckily, I did not get offended and I kept reading him. I still do. He remains among the most important poets in our literature, and one of those who stay closest to our reality. You just believe him.

Five Poems by Darek Foks (b. 1966)

The Deer Hunters

Come, dear friend, we shall save something

for posterity. What is your opinion

of this gentleman urinating in the alley

that we have so many memories of?

I shall tell him that it is not nice

and you at the same time shall catch him

good. Just like that! Hold

Różewicz and the organic

Różewicz and the organic

Among many other things, poetry is a drama of the poet’s hand. The writing hand, the hand of the writer, may be treated as both metaphor and metonymy, and it is in-between these two figures of speech that a distinct narrative of Różewicz’s work unravels. In several of his poems, the hand is a metaphor of writing, and it is very often accompanied with images of exhaustion and emptying. At the same time, it is a metonymy of the poet’s body, which is revolting and not at all committed to what the mind intends to say.

Four Poems by Jacek Gutorow (b. 1970)

Poem

The box on the table has begun to think.

Thinking beyond me.

Or is it just my imagination?

Of course not. It is. Meditating behind my back.

 

I don’t see it. How do I know it is thinking?

This thought has just occurred to me.

Reticence: On Różewicz

For someone who has worked with, and in, words, Różewicz has always approached language with an uncompromising suspicion. I cannot think of another poet who distrusts words more consistently. After the war, when words seemed compromised, Różewicz made a utopian attempt to rebuild trust in words by returning to simplest phrases and basic truths.

Three Poems by Jerzy Jarniewicz (b. 1958)

Rorschach

It’s only coffee, as you can see, 

spilt on the table. So ostentatious

in its attempt to imitate the classic test,

Keeping company: On Różewicz

What I must have read as the essential feature of his poetry was its relentless focus on evacuating the world sensorium, which turned the poem into a condensed meditation on the poverty of the human — a condition whose unmistakable topic is the nothingness of life. This was its signatory presence that I track down at each reading, which I search for in each phrase, its basic narrative, in the taste of the poem’s flesh.

Różewicz the playwright

Who was Różewicz for me? First, a figure from school — I discussed his poems and this was terribly boring. It was all understood, the War, the Holocaust, the partisans. Not for a fifteen-year-old to digest. His poems were boring. But his plays and prose were an entirely different matter. Oh! It was something. White Marriage (Białe Małzenstwo) and Card Index (Kartoteka) read wonderfully. Only now, in hindsight, I rediscover Różewicz the poet, but still, for me [he is] a playwright. Above all.


Translated by Marit MacArthur

Six Poems by Edward Pasewicz (b. 1971)

Come Chat 

I know why I regard your foot,

it holds up your body, and your body holds me up.

 

Since something is wrong with my body,

dead “but” it rocks itself

in a wicker cage and falls into a trance

and whispers: prickly pear, thorns of roses, death

Syndicate content