"These surprising, clear, and appealing poems are to be enjoyed again and again, marking Ficowski as a poet readers won't want to miss."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"What good luck to finally have in English the writings of the brilliant Jerzy Ficowski, the poet who lived at least seventeen lives, fighting in the Warsaw Uprising, and later traveling for years with the Roma people through the roads of Poland, opposing his government, and watching the authorities ban his poems, a poet who translated from Spanish and Romanian and Yiddish and Roma, but most of all from the tongue of silence...Beautifully translated by Jennifer Grotz and Piotr Sommer, these poems also document the tragedy of the Holocaust, with the direct and uncompromising voice with which he reminds us of the great poets such as Różewicz and Świrszczyńska, while remaining, all the while, himself. Read a piece such as 'I was unable to save / a single life' in a bookstore, and I guarantee you will want to take this book with you, to keep it for the rest of your life."—Ilya Kaminsky
"Thanks to these brilliant, careful, inspired translations, we can now read Jerzy Ficowski, one of Poland's best kept secrets. This book is a marvel in its weird clarity and extraordinary range of styles and subjects, from the perfectly unassuming paradox of the title, all the way through to its final poems about bumblebees and Satie and mother nature, who scratches herself and 'shudders / with a tsunami.' How fortunate we are to have the unassailable evidence that all along, there was yet another genius of 20th century Polish poetry."—Matthew Zapruder
Poetry. Jewish Studies.
Feature @ Poetry DailyFeature @ Poetry FoundationFeature @ Poetry FoundationPublishers Weekly, starred review Winner of the 2022 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation
Jerzy Ficowski was born on September 4, 1924 in Warsaw. During the occupation he was a soldier in the Home Army and took part in the Warsaw Uprising. After the war, he studied journalism, philosophy, and sociology. One of the most original Polish poets of the 20th century, he published fifteen volumes of poetry, beginning with Lead Soldiers in 1948. His wanderings with Polish Roma at the turn of the 1940s and 1950s resulted in the monograph Gypsies on Polish Roads (1965) as well as translations from Romany of the poet Papusza. His interest in Jewish history and culture resulted in an anthology of folk poetry of Polish Jews, Raisins with Almonds (1964). He also translated into Polish poetry from the Romanian, Spanish, and Russian. His life-long fascination with the writings of Bruno Schulz began during the occupation. He later researched and collected materials about Schulz, finding and publishing many of his unknown manuscripts, prints and drawings. Ficowski's pioneering biography and analysis of Schulz's work is Regions of the Great Heresy (1967). In the '70s and '80s Ficowski was banned from printing and published in underground editions. His last volume of poetry, Pantareja, appeared in 2006, a few months before his death.Author City: USA
Jennifer Grotz is the author of three books of poetry, Window Left Open (Graywolf Press),The Needle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and Cusp (Mariner Books) as well as translator of two books from the French: Psalms of All My Days (Carnegie Mellon), a selection of Patrice de La Tour du Pin, and Rochester Knockings (Open Letter), a novel by Hubert Haddad. She teaches at the University of Rochester and directs the Bread Loaf Writers' Conferences.Author City: USA
Piotr Sommer is a Polish poet, the author of Things to Translate (Bloodaxe Books), Continued (Wesleyan UP), and Overdoing It (Trias Chapbook Series). He has published poetry collections, books of essays on poetry, and poetry translations (Ashbery, Berryman, Cage, Koch, Lowell, O'Hara, Reznikoff, Schubert, Schuyler). He has won prizes and fellowships, and has taught poetry at American universities. He lives outside Warsaw and edits Literatura na Świecie, a magazine of foreign writing in Polish translations.Author City: USA