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• Long-listed for the 2021 PEN Poetry in Translation Award

• Finalist for the 2020 Big Other Book Award for Translation


One of the most versatile and rebellious poets in Poland, Marcin Świetlicki takes us into streets, cafes, rooms, and conversations where — with his signature dark glasses — he ponders metaphysical questions in the minutiae of daily life. These are poems about life, forgiveness, communication, love, death, and time: in the slit of a mailbox, he sees “Not the light but / the galloping Now.” The poems have an urban edge and bite, and Świetlicki has recorded many of them as lyrics with his rock band. The collection, his first to be translated into English, culls work from twelve of his published volumes.


Born in Lublin in 1961, Świetlicki is a poet, crime writer and musician who has published thirteen poetry collections, and writes most of the lyrics for two rock bands he regularly performs with. He co-edited (with Marcin Baran and Marcin Sendecki) the poetry anthology Długie pożegnanie. Tribute to Raymond Chandler (The Long Goodbye. Tribute to Raymond Chandler). He has received several major awards, including the 1996 Kościelski Foundation Prize, the Silesius Wroclaw Poetic Award (2012) and the Lublin Poetical Stone Award (2014), for lifetime achievement.


Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese writes with/in English, Polish and Danish. Her translation of Nothing More, by Krystyna Miłobędzka, was shortlisted for the 2015 Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize. She translated Salt Monody poems by Marzanna Kielar, and co-edited Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird: Poetry from Poland, both published by Zephyr Press and available on this website. She co-curates “Transreading” courses on transnational and hybrid poetries for the Poetry School in London. She lives in Copenhagen.


The publication of Night truck driver was made possible with support from the Academy of American poets and the Amazon Literary Partnership Poetry Fund, and from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Night truck driver

  • Night Truck Driver

    By Marcin Świetlicki

    Translated from Polish by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese


    ISBN 9781938890802

    128 pages trade paper

    Bilingual: Polish and English on facing pages

  • "Świetlicki and Wójcik-Leese capture so hauntingly and precisely the cold ache of being called—and caught—among many worlds." — Amanda L. Andrei, South East European Film Festival Los Angeles


    “I’ll be thinking about these poems for days and months to come—in particular, the solitary line of the final poem hasn’t stopped replaying itself in my head: 'And this can’t be done endlessly.' This can’t be done endlessly, can it?" — Kraig Davis , Kenyon Reviews Online


    "The Kraków poet Marcin Świetlicki – a legend in Poland, with his own rock band and twelve collections under his belt – is only now having his moment abroad. His first collection in English offers sharp, edgy poetry translated with a granite expertise by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese – it’s so relentlessly dark and overtly pessimistic that, bizarrely, it’s even funny in places." — Belinda Cooke, Modern Poetry in Translation

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