On the other hand, maybe poetry can flout its own time, its own conventions, pieties, syntactical laws, aesthetic (anesthetic) canons and going definitions and habits. These are a few poets who think it can, at least in Polish. Krystyna Milobedzka, one of the most astonishing living Polish poets, virtually unknown to an English language audience, writes in her most recent volume of poems, After the Cry:
the greatest discovery seems to me the grey, soiled light
about which we speak clearly
and the little space which we can take in with one look
These poets are all very different, but they share one attribute–a robust scepticism toward poetry’s traditional claims to prettiness, sincerity and righteousness. This is from where they derive their weird power and their ability to court ugliness, ordinariness, falsity and fear. The great poet Tymoteusz Karpowicz, who died in the United States in July of this year, wrote in an early poem: today we are not yet naked enough. This section is a small tribute to his memory.
when he cooked kasha for himself his avoided the movement of the spoon from east to west for it gave him vertigo
the coffee grinder he threw out of the window he was afraid of objective allusions he ground coffee between two dreams moving in contradictory directions
‘Recollection before Death’
Tymoteusz Karpowicz 1921-2005
1. Six Poems by Ryszard Krynicki
2. Two Poems by Janusz Szuber
3. Two Poems by Adam Wiedemann
4. Two Poems by Tadeusz Pióro
5. Two Poems by Andrzej Sosnowski
6. Four Poems by Jacek Gutorow
7. Three Poems by Marcin Sendecki
8. A Poem by Marcin Swietlicki
9. Five poems by Krystyna Milobedzka
10. Five poems by Zbiegniew Herbert
11. Four poems by Tadeusz Rozewicz
12. One Poem by Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki
The Burning Forest: Modern Polish Poetry. Translated and edited by Adam Czerniwski. Bloodaxe Books, 1988.
Spoiling Cannibals’ Fun: Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule. Edited and Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh. Northwestern University Press, 1991.
Altered State: The New Polish Poetry. Edited by Rod Mengham, Tadeusz Pioro and Piotr Szymor. Arc Publications, 2003
Carnivorous Boy, Carnivorous Bird: Poetry from Poland. Selected by Marcin Baran, Edited by Anna Skucinska and Elzbietz Wojcik-Leese. Zephyr Press, 2004.
Continued, Poems by Piotr Sommer. Wesleyan University Press, 2005.
Selected Poems of Andrzej Sosnowski. Translated by Rod Mengham. Forthcoming from Arc Publications, 2006.
Jacket Magazine – at www.jacket.org – will feature Polish poetry in its fall 2005 issue.
The current issue of Lyric Poetry Review – www.lyricreview.org – also features new Polish poetry.