Inspired by Xu Bing
from Chinese by Austin Woerner
ISBN 978-1-938890-04-8 (paper) $15
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9 x 7
64 pages [Bilingual Chinese/English]
With over 20 full-color photos of Xu Bing’s “Phoenix”
Ouyang Jianghe has produced a masterpiece equaling Xu Bing’s magnificent “Phoenix” in scale and political acuity. I can think of no parallel for this poem in the writing of my country, where ekphrastic poetry is a rather pale medium. What verve and penetrating wit! He mixes phenomenology, mystical appetite and jeremiad to produce an unforgettable critique of the entrepreneurial titanism of the new China.
Ouyang Jianghe belongs to the generation of Chinese poets known as the “post-Misty” school, the second wave of poets to emerge in the 1980s in the warming political climate after the end of the Cultural Revolution. The first wave, whose representative poets included Duo Duo, Gu Cheng, and most prominently, Bei Dao, transmuted the surrealism of French and Latin American poetry into a vehicle for political allegory. “Phoenix,” a mini-epic ekphrastic poem written as a companion piece to Xu Bing’s sculpture of the same name, multiplies the complexity of his earlier poems by an order of magnitude. It is, by his own account, his magnum opus. Synthesizing his earlier concerns of the materiality of language, the Chinese literary legacy, and the role of art in society into a sustained meditation on the theme of flight, it reflects two and a half decades of work refining the “difficult” language of Misty poetry into a vessel for sophisticated philosophical inquiry.
Known as one of the “Five Masters from Sichuan,” Ouyang Jianghe is one of China’s most influential avant-garde poets. His intricate, fugue-like poems are concerned with dissecting the layers of meaning that underlie everyday objects and notions such as “doubled shadows.” He is also a prominent art critic and calligrapher; he lives in Beijing.
A Chinese-English literary translator, Austin Woerner has translated a collection of poetry by Ouyang Jianghe (Doubled Shadows) a novel by Su Wei, and edited the English edition of the Chinese literary magazine Chutzpah!. A graduate of Yale and of the New School's creative writing MFA program, he joined Ouyang in 2009 as the first author-translator pair to participate in the Literature in Translation Program at the Vermont Studio Center.
from Chinese by John Balcom
ISBN 978-1-938890-07-9 (paper) $15
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6 x 8½
Rural Taiwan and its landscape are present in many of Xiang Yang’s poems. Landscape and rural poems have a long history in China, generally depicting the court or city as decadent places exercising a corrupting influence. In many contemporary poems from Taiwan, the sense of alienation one associates with modern life is viewed as a largely urban phenomenon, whereas all healthy values reside in the countryside. But this dichotomy, which is also seen as a shortcoming of such contemporary poetry, is itself a significant part of the local literary tradition of Nativism, which emerged during the Japanese occupation (1895–1945) as writers and artists sought to articulate a sense of Taiwan identity.
The so-called “third generation poets,” such as Xiang Yang, Du Ye, and Lo Qing, wanted to see a resurgence of Chinese national and local culture after years of foreign domination. In Taiwan, this revival was complex and multifaceted: the trend toward Westernization in the cultural sphere was subverted by a resurgence of interest in traditional Chinese culture, and political domination by the Kuomintang from the Mainland was opposed by promotion of Taiwanese language and culture. Xiang Yang himself eventually decided to explore two avenues: to write poetry in his native southern Min dialect and to experiment with formalist verse. “I asked myself what made classical poems so enduring,” he says. “It seemed to me that the strict compositional rules and forms of classical poetry contributed greatly to poetic quality.” He began experimenting with forms and rhyme, finally settling on a ten-line poem broken into two quintets as the form most suited to his temperament. It can be said that form made a poet out of him: formal limitations helped to channel and structure the poetic impulse.
—from the translator’s introduction
Xiang Yang’s poetry stands as elegant testimony to the Taiwan experience. The author of seven volumes of poetry in his younger years, he has, since the publication of The Four Seasons (1986), published but a single collection titled Chaos, in 2005. In the intervening years, he earned a PhD in journalism and moved into academia. He is also an established woodblock artist.
John Balcom is a translator of Chinese literature. Recent publications include Frontier Taiwan: An Anthology of Modern Chinese Poetry (contributor), Wintry Night by Li Qiao (co-translator), The City Trilogy by Chang His-kuo and Taiwan’s Indigenous Writers: An Anthology of Stories, Essays, and Poems, which received the 2006 Northern California Book Award. He translated Driftwood and Stone Cell, both by Lo Fu, which were published by Zephyr Press.
SOMETHING CROSSES MY MIND
from Chinese by Eleanor Goodman
ISBN 978-1-938890-06-2 (paper) $15
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6 x 8
128 pages [Bilingual Chinese/English]
From one of China’s most important poets after 1980, this is a stunning book of poetry, a poetry that is characterized by electric honesty and acute observation. In these pages, we hear Wang Xiaoni’s candid and penetrating voice about contemporary China—all through her quiet but powerful verse. The translator Eleanor Goodman, herself a wonderful poet, should be congratulated for her brilliant translation.
—Kang-i Sun Chang, Malcolm G. Chace ’56 Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures, Yale University
Wang Xiaoni is a revered Chinese poet who has been writing since her teens. Over the decades, her poetry has grown more resonant, marked with striking images and extraordinary associations, and characterized by a quiet personal voice. The poems in this volume embody a distinct sensibility and a major achievement. Eleanor Goodman’s exacting translation makes them a pure pleasure to read and reread.
Wang Xiaoni has published five books of poetry and been honored with numerous awards, including the Ann Gao Poetry Prize in 1999, and the Chinese Literature Media Award in 2004. Her work is known for its keen detail and explication of everyday life. Something Crosses My Mind, published in China in 2008, spans twenty years of her writing.
Perhaps it is poets most of the world who require the most protection from it. Wang Xiaoni is nothing if not grounded in China—its people, its fauna and flora, its politics. Yet to have that world look in on her is a nightmare. Even more, it is a betrayal of the compact the poet has made with the world: to live in it as a stranger, but to give it full life on the page. This agreement at times infuses Wang’s work with an almost mystical sense of estrangement.
That is not to say that Wang Xiaoni is a poet with her head in the stars. Rather, she is grounded in the earth: she writes of potatoes and peanuts, scarecrows and corn. The animals in her poems are water buffalo, pigs and sheep. What interests her most is people and how they relate to their natural and unnatural environment. The unnatural environment is the one created by man: politics, economics, social hierarchies, inequalities. These issues are addressed, but subtly. They appear in her poems about the countryside and the implied social inequities therein, in her observations of severe environmental degradation, in her metaphors of wounds and bones, in her abandoned fields and defiled mountains.
—from the translator’s introduction
A key figure of the post-70s Chinese poets, Wang Xiaoni was born in Changchun, Jilin in 1955, and spent seven years as a laborer in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. In 1977, she was accepted into the Chinese Department at Jilin University, and in 1985 she moved to Shenzhen. She has worked as a film script editor and college professor. Her publications include more than twenty-five books of poetry, essays, and novels.
Eleanor Goodman is a writer and a translator from Chinese. She is a Research Associate at the Fairbank Center at Harvard University, and spent a year at Peking University on a Fulbright Fellowship. Something Crosses My Mind was the recipient of a 2013 PEN/Heim Translation Fund.
TAKE ME OUT
Illustrations by Stephen Coren
ISBN 978-1-938890-09-3 (paper) $12
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5½ x 8
What is it about rhyme? Whatever it is, we fall in love with it (if ever) early in life: as soon as we learn to talk, or probably sooner. The same can be said about love for sports. By bringing together these two forms of attachment, the clever Littlefield reminds us that poetry and sports, at a level deeper than their different kinds of grandiosity, both have roots in childhood pleasures.
—Robert Pinsky, Former U.S. Poet Laureate
Poetry in sport?
If there’s a Little field
Where’s the big court?
So next time out
And take in
Take Me Out.
—Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, NPR & Real Sports
Bill keeps pace with a variety of sports through the rhythm of his verse and prose. Always entertaining.
—Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic Gold Medalist
Bill Littlefield, first and foremost a writer, plays games even as he writes about them. He unabashedly versifies not for profit, cosmic meaning, or a championship cup, but for fun. He makes no bones about it: these verses are doggerel, defined in the OED as “comic or burlesque verse, usually of irregular rhythm … mean, trivial, or undignified verse.” And while there is nothing mean or trivial in the lines that follow here, much is exuberantly undignified. The rhythms, too, are sharper than they might look at first glance—Read them aloud. Doggerel rhythms and rhymes have an honorable place in grown-up English letters, at least since Chaucer’s day, both unself-consciously, as in the touching and ludicrous verse of William McGonagall; or self-consciously, as in the urbane lyrics of Ogden Nash. And radio, which has long been Littlefield’s primary medium, proves an encouraging breeding-ground for light verse of various kinds.
—from the Publisher’s Introduction
CANYON IN THE BODY
from Chinese by Fiona Sze-Lorrain
ISBN 978-1-938890-01-7 (paper) $15
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6 x 8
208 pages [Bilingual Chinese/English]
The tenderness of Lan Lan’s poetry is steely and perfectly judged. She shows us a world of subtle adjustments and intelligent beauty—although the stakes she deals in could not be higher. As its title suggests, Canyon in the Body uncovers both existential and domestic meanings, writ both large and small in the human environment. Fiona Sze-Lorrain’s limpid, unforced translations do the poet, and her Anglophone readers, a great service.
—Fiona Sampson, Editor of Poem and Professor of Poetry, Roehampton University
Lan Lan is discussing happiness with us. She cuts time, our faces, our dreams, our crystal gaze. So how does this happen: when we leave her, washed, new, mellow, happy that she conducted us, drowned us, left us hovering in this … what? nothing? Blessed be the day I discovered her writing.
Considered one of today’s most influential Chinese lyrical writers, Lan Lan emerged as a representative woman poet during the early nineties. A consistent presence in the mainland literary scene, her writing renews the need to address lyricism when the dominant cultural discourse favors phallocentrism and the privilege of human over non-human. Presented in five thematic sections, this bilingual collection compiles Lan Lan’s most characteristic work as it showcases her lyricism, austerity, luminosity, and moral sensibilities. Many of these poems have been anthologized in China and abroad. However, other than two translations in Push Open the Window (Copper Canyon Press, 2010) and a sampling in Another Kind of Nation: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry (Talisman House, 2007), none of her poetry exists in English in a coherent entirety.
—from the Preface by Fiona Sze-Lorrain)
Born in 1967 in Yantai, Shandong province, Lan Lan is considered one of today’s most influential Chinese lyrical poets. She is the bestselling author of several poetry titles including Life with a Smile (1990), Inner Life (1997), Dream, Dream (2003) and From Here, to Here (2010). Also a prolific prose and children’s fiction writer, her work has been translated into ten languages. Awarded the Liu Li’an Poetry Prize in 1996, she was voted the top writer of the “Best Ten Women Poets” in China. In 2009, she received four of China’s highest literary honors: the “Poetry & People” Award, the Yulong Poetry Prize, the “Best Ten Poets in China” Award, and the Bing Xin Children’s Literature New Work Award. A regular guest at international poetry festivals, she lives in Beijing. Canyon in the Body is her first poetry collection in English.
Author of two books of poetry, My Funeral Gondola (Mānoa Books/El León, 2013) and Water the Moon (Marick, 2010), as well as several volumes of translation of contemporary Chinese, American and French poets, Fiona Sze-Lorrain co-edited the Mānoa anthologies, Sky Lanterns (2012) and On Freedom: Spirit, Art, and State (2013), both from the University of Hawai’i Press. She lives in France where she is an editor at Vif Éditions and Cerise Press.
50th Anniversary Edition of
Letters from Mississippi
LETTERS FROM MISSISSIPPI: Reports from Civil Rights Volunteers
and Poetry of the 1964 Freedom Summer
Edited by Elizabeth Martínez
ISBN: 978-1-938890-02-4 (paper), $18.95
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5½ x 8¼
I am so grateful readers have been given this new opportunity to hear the story of Freedom Summer told directly by some of the young people who helped make that extraordinary moment happen.Letters from Mississippi gives us a deeply personal look at one of the Civil Rights Movement's key moments—and reminds us that change happens because regular people have decided they were willing to fight for it.
—Marian Wright Edelman, president, Children's Defense Fund
These letters in perceptiveness, freshness of detail and description, variety of events and situations, and range of experience are unlike anything I've since encountered in civil rights literature. Collectively, they constitute an irreplaceable record of an extraordinary movement in American social and cultural history at midcentury.
—Ekwueme Michael Thelwell
These letters bring to life, sometimes with tears, always with pride, that extraordinary summer when young people from all over the country joined black people in Mississippi in their determined quest for equal rights. Elizabeth Martínez, with this volume, makes an invaluable and unique contribution to the history of social struggle in America.
During the summer of 1964, a presidential election year, SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) sent volunteers into Mississippi to expand Black voter registration in the state, to organize a legally constituted "Freedom Democratic Party" that would challenge the whites-only Mississippi Democratic party, to establish "freedom schools" which taught reading and math to Black children, and to open community centers where individuals could obtain legal and medical assistance.
This 50th anniversary edition of Letters from Mississippi retains the introduction by Julian Bond, and updates the explanatory background notes and biographies of volunteers from that summer. The 50th anniversary edition also includes over 40 pages of poetry that was written by students in the Freedom Schools, with a prefatory note by Langston Hughes.
Elizabeth Martínez is a Chicana writer, activist and teacher. She speaks on racism, multiculturalism, women's struggles and today's new movements. In the 1960s and 70s, she worked in the Black civil rights movement and the Chicano movement. She co-founded and currently chairs the Institute for MultiRacial Justice to help build alliances between communities of color. Martínez is the author of six books and numerous articles.
Also Available: De Colores Means All of Us: Latina Views for a Multi-Colored Century by Elizabeth Martínez (foreword by Angela Y. Davis) [South End Press: ISBN 0-89608-583-X, trade paper; ISBN 0-89608-127-3, trade cloth]
from Russian by Ainsley Morse and Peter Golub
ISBN 978-0-983297-02-4 (paper) $16
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6 x 8
208 pages [Bilingual Russian/English]
Sen-Senkov’s poetry has no hero in the obvious sense; although uttered in a voice that clearly has timbre and personal shading, we don’t know whose it is or where it is coming from. When you read deeply into this poetry, however, you realize that there is indeed a person behind this voice: one who perceives any and all cultural symbols as fractures in the universe, as ciphers and “sore spots” at the same time, which demand a vital reciprocal effort in order to overcome various historical traumas. Nothing gets the benefit of the doubt, but as soon as you begin to live out these symbols and myths, to fill them out through personal involvement, then everything begins to come together: the death of Heath Ledger, the story of how the constellations acquired meaning, reminiscences of childhood. One thing begins to resound with another, and it turns out that our hero is a person who doesn’t want to live in a fragmented reality. It’s fragmented, of course, but he strives again and again to see it as whole. This effort cannot be called heroic. That would be a profanation and a vulgarization; but this is an effort to make sense of the world, one that takes us beyond the heroic and non-heroic.
The omnivorous quality of Sen-Senkov’s roving eye is especially interesting in its relationship to history. Here is a poet constantly delving into human history; his engagement ranges as far back as prehistoric times, but circles back again and again to a few points of particular interest—in this collection, most notably the harrowed lives of early Christian martyrs and the endless upheaval of twentieth-century Europe. It is perhaps in this cyclical interrogation of the past, and ruminations on the consequences of inevitably repeated mistakes, that Sen-Senkov is most thoroughly a poet in the Russian tradition. Though his orientation is often markedly international, he could never reflect the legendary American forgetfulness of history: he gives us a Kraftwerk concert through the lens of the Soviet occupation of Nazi Germany, and a pack of Gitanes is enough to evoke a century of persecution by various peoples and governmental structures. At the same time, Sen-Senkov is not a political poet; he is a poet of description, and politics and history come to his attention as do Barbie dolls and soccer balls.
—from the Translator Introduction
Andrei Sen-Senkov is the author of more than ten books of poetry and prose, as well as solo and collaborative publications/performances involving visual poetry and experimental music. He has also published translations of poetry and a children’s book of original fairy tales, A Cat Named Mouse. He is a regular participant in literary festivals in Russia and abroad. In 1998 he was an award-winner at the Turgenev Festival for Short Prose, and in 2006, 2008 and 2012 he was shortlisted for the Andrei Bely Prize. In the U.S., his work has been published in journals such as Aufgabe, Interim, Jacket, and Zoland Poetry, and anthologized in Crossing Centuries (Talisman).
Ainsley Morse has been translating 20th- and 21st-century Russian and (former-) Yugoslav literature since 2006. A longtime student of both literatures, she is currently writing a dissertation on unofficial Soviet-era literature at Harvard University. In addition to Anatomical Theater, she is the co-translator (with Bela Shayevich) of I Live I See: the Collected Poems of Vsevolod Nekrasov (UDP, 2013). Current translation projects include an anthology of Lianozovo poets and a collection of contemporary Russian experimental prose, as well as ongoing work with twentieth-century Yugoslav authors.
Peter Golub is a writer and translator living in San Francisco. He has published in Circumference, PEN America, and Playboy. He is a translator of contemporary Russian poetry and has worked on several anthologies, including the large online project The New Russian Poetry (Jacket 2). He has one book of poems, My Imagined Funeral (Argo Risk Press, 2007). He is the recipient of a PEN Translation Grant, and is an editor with St. Petersburg Review. The translation of this book was supported by a BILTC Translation Fellowship.
3 CONTEMPORARY RUSSIAN WOMEN POETS
Polina Barskova, Anna Glazova and Maria Stepanova
Edited by Catherine Ciepiela
from Russian by Catherine Ciepiela, Anna Khasin and Sibelan Forrester
ISBN 978-0-9832970-8-6 (paper) $18
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6 x 9
200 pages [Bilingual Russian/English]
Relocations is a highly enjoyable collection of poetry introducing the English-language world to three incredibly diverse and talented women poets writing in Russian that could be as meaningful to a casual fan of poetry as to a comparative literature scholar. [full review]
—Will Evans, Three Percent
In distinct ways all three poets featured in Relocations are engaged in the project of renovating Russia’s great modernist tradition for a radically different historical situation. They write poems of imaginative daring, pushing recognizable scenarios into the fantastic, the surreal or the speculative, bending form and language to the task.
Polina Barskova began publishing her poetry at age nine and is the author of eight books of poems; her latest, Ariel’s Dispatch (Soobshchenie Ariela, NLO, 2011), was nominated for an Andrey Bely award. Two collections of her poetry in English translation appeared recently: This Lamentable City (Tupelo Press, 2010) and The Zoo in Winter (Melville House Press, 2010). She is a published scholar with degrees in classical literature (from St. Petersburg University) and Slavic languages and literatures (UC Berkeley). Her research has focused on cultural life during the siege of Leningrad, about which she has numerous publications and two forthcoming books. She currently teaches Russian literature at Hampshire College and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Anna Glazova is a poet, translator and scholar of German and Comparative Literature with a PhD from Northwestern University. She is the author of three books of poems, the most recent, For a Shrew (Dlia zemleroiki, NLO, 2013), being honored with the Russian Prize for Poetry. She has translated into Russian books by Robert Walser, Unica Zürn and Ladislav Klima; her translations of Paul Celan’s poetry recently appeared under the title Speak you, too (Govori i ty, Ailuros, 2012). A volume of her poems in translations by Anna Khasin, Twice under the Sun, appeared with Shearsman Books in 2008. Her scholarship has focused on the work of Paul Celan and Osip Mandelstam. She teaches and resides in Hamburg, Germany and the United States.
Maria Stepanova is the author of nine books of poems and the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Andrei Bely award (2005) and a Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellowship (2010). Among her most notable works are a book of post-modern ballads, Songs of the Northern Southerners (Pesni severnykh iuzhan, ARGO-RISK, 2001) and a book-length narrative poem, John Doe’s Prose (Proza Ivana Sidorova, NLO, 2008). Relocations presents the first extensive selection of her poems in English translation. Her activities as an essayist and journalist make her a visible cultural figure. Since 2007 she has worked as editor of the independent online journal OpenSpace.ru, now reconfigured as the crowd-sourced journal Colta.ru. She is a lifelong resident of Moscow.* * *
Catherine Ciepiela is a scholar and translator of modern Russian poetry. She is the author of a book on Marina Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak (The Same Solitude, Cornell UP, 2006) and co-editor with Honor Moore of The Stray Dog Cabaret (NYRB 2006), a book of Paul Schmidt’s translations of the Russian modernists. Her translations have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, The Massachusetts Review, Seneca Review, Pequod and The Common. She teaches Russian literature and poetic translation at Amherst College.
Anna Khasin is an independent translator and poet living in Boston. Her earlier translations of Anna Glazova were published by Shearsman Books under the title Twice Under the Sun (2008).
Sibelan Forrester is Professor of Russian at Swarthmore College with a scholarly focus on Russian modernist poetry, particularly the work of Marina Tsvetaeva. She writes her own poetry and has published poetic and scholarly translations from Croatian (Dubravka Oraić-Tolić’s American Scream and Palindrome Apocalypse, Ooligan Press, 2004), Russian (Elena Ignatova’s Diving Bell, Zephyr Press, 2006; Vladimir Propp’s Russian Folktale, Wayne State University Press, 2012), and Serbian (stories by Milica Mićić-Dimovska and an excerpt from Miroljub Todovorić’s verbal-visual novel Apeiron).
from Polish by Piotr Gwiazda
ISBN 978-1-938890-00-0 (paper) $15
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6 x 8
176 pages [Bilingual Polish/English]
“Grim, glancingly beautiful, always necessary.”
“One of the most important books of our time: these are at once unsettling and comforting, timely and wryly moving poems about the laughable annoyances, limited joys, and the never fully present sorrows of cosmopolitanism, the life of the citizens of the world.”
“Wróblewski is the true poetic chronicler of our 21st century diaspora in all its absurdities and anxieties … Kopenhaga is a journey to the end of the night that always makes a U-turn in the middle, to take in the latest folly—and also self-rescue mission—of the transplant. Read it and weep—and then laugh!”
Kopenhaga is the first comprehensive collection of prose poetry by Grzegorz Wróblewski, one of Poland’s leading contemporary writers. The book offers a series of vignettes from the crossroads of politics and culture, technology and ethics, consumerism and spirituality. It combines two tropes: the emigrant’s double identity and the ethnographer’s search for patterns. While ostensibly focused on Denmark, it functions as an investigation of alterity in the post-cold war era of ethnic strife and global capitalism. Whether he writes about refugees in Copenhagen (one of Europe’s major transnational cities), or the homeless, or the mentally ill, or any other marginalized group, Wróblewski points to the moral contradictions of a world supposedly without borders.
Grzegorz Wróblewski, born in 1962 in Gdańsk and raised in Warsaw, has been living in Copenhagen since 1985. He has published ten volumes of poetry and three collections of short prose pieces in Poland; three books of poetry, a book of poetic prose and an experimental novel in Denmark; a book of selected poems in Bosnia-Herzegovina; and a selection of plays. His work has been translated into fifteen languages. His poems in English translation appear in many journals, anthologies, and chapbooks, as well as in two collections Our Flying Objects (Equipage Press, 2007) and A Marzipan Factory (Otoliths, 2010).
Piotr Gwiazda has published two books of poetry, Messages (Pond Road Press, 2012) and Gagarin Street (Washington Writers’ Publishing House, 2005). He is also the author of James Merrill and W.H. Auden: Homosexuality and Poetic Influence (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). He is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).
from Polish by Mira Rosenthal
ISBN 0-9832970-3-1 (paper) $15
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6 x 8
180 pages [Bilingual Polish/English]
Tomasz Różycki’s Colonies is one of the most remarkable sonnet sequences of our time: the work of a wandering, restless, and moral mind, here rendered with clarity and vividness by the translations of Mira Rosenthal.
In Tomasz Różycki’s lyric profusion, I hear the sharp blasts of a mordant intellect, but not without the human notes of an infinite melancholy playing in the background. This is the soundtrack of a valiant mind, a layered imagination that nonchalantly apprehends and formally measures the tarnished world in demotic language such that it enchantingly restores simplicity and bewilderment to our existence.
Tomasz Różycki walks to work every day through the city of Opole, in the Polish region of Silesia, where he has lived since his birth in 1970. The fact that he is walking is important: the rhythm of feet on concrete and cobblestone, the familiar view across the Odra River, the regular length of time it takes him to reach his destination. Poetry has a long friendship with walking, good for pacing the flow of thought and establishing a strong rhythm. We are familiar with the idea in the Anglophone tradition from the late eighteenth century, when the Romantic poets transformed walking into a cultural and aesthetic act of taking pleasure in a landscape. For William Wordsworth, almost daily excursions on foot as well as longer walking tours functioned as a way to compose and revise poems that sprung from his meditations on the countryside. But what is important in Różycki’s daily walking is not so much any pastoral awareness it brings about but the fact that such rambling often leads to more sustained interest in the history of a place. Wordsworth’s pedestrian experience of the Lake District moved him to write a guidebook that traced the history of the region; so, too, Różycki’s paced knowledge of his part of Silesia roots him in a historical curiosity. In Colonies, his sixth collection, this curiosity blooms into an outright aesthetic obsession.
—from the Translator’s Introduction
Tomasz Różycki is a poet, critic, and translator. Over the last ten years, he has garnered almost every prize Poland has to offer, as well as widespread critical and popular acclaim in translation in numerous languages. Różycki is the author of seven volumes of poetry, most recently Kolonie (Colonies) and Księga obrotów (The Book of Rotations). Over the course of his career, he has developed an extraordinarily distinctive, personal poetic voice that combines highly concrete imagery with evocative references to the historical legacy of his family and his time. He has lived his whole life in Opole, a previously German city that was repopulated by Poles relocated from the Ukrainian area of eastern Poland taken over by the Soviets after World War II. He is considered to be an inheritor of the tradition of Czesław Miłosz and Adam Zagajewski, and his highly formal work deals with questions of both literary and ancestral tradition. His awards include the Krzysztof Kamiel Baczyński Prize (1997), the Czas Kultury Prize (1997), The Rainer Maria Rilke Award (1998), the Kościelski Foundation Prize (2004), and the Joseph Brodski Prize from Zeszyty Literackie (2006). He has been nominated twice for the Nike Prize (Poland’s top literary honor) and once for the Paszport Polityki (2004). He lives in his hometown of Opole with his wife and two children and teaches at Opole University. Zephyr Press has also published his The Forgotten Keys.
While on a Fulbright Fellowship to Poland, Mira Rosenthal discovered her passion for translating contemporary Polish poetry. Her translations and scholarship on Polish literature have received numerous awards, including fellowships from the PEN Translation Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Her own poetry has been published widely, and her collection The Local World, winner of the Wick Poetry Prize, came out from Kent State in 2011. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Houston and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Indiana University. She is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.