Marzanna Kielar's systematic investigations of the North (of Poland) resemble concentrated expansions of homelands into the poetic universes of Elizabeth Bishop, Tomas Tranströmer and Eugenio Montale—not surprisingly the authors most important to Kielar. For someone who lists Understanding Glaciers as her favorite non-poetry book, the precise terminology of earth science naturally counterpoints the impressionist re-creation of landscape that occurs time and again in her poems. Stone formations, glacial types, kinds of waves, river shapes—they all have their own, peculiar names: crag, surging glacier, breaker, oxbow. Her recent poems (placed towards the end of this non-chronological selection) frequently take advantage of this peculiarity. The terms testify to the acuteness of Kielar's focus as well as to the persistence of her exploration.
Unlike Zbigniew Herbert and Czeslaw Milosz, Kielar does not comment on Poland's past or present. Like so many other young Polish poets who started to publish after 1989, she no longer needs to: confronting history and the state has finally become an aesthetic choice rather than a poet's moral obligation.
Marzanna Kielar (b.1963, Goldap), a graduate in Philosophy from Warsaw University, works at the College of Special Needs Education in Warsaw and co-operates with the literary magazine Krasnogruda. She has published two collections of poetry and has received the Kazimiera Illakowiczówna Prize for the best debut of the year, and the Kocielski Foundation Prize; she has been nominated for the NIKE Prize.
Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese teaches translation and contemporary literature in English at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. She co-edits Przekladaniec, a journal of literary translation; her translations of contemporary Polish poets have appeared in numerous journals, and the Zephyr anthology Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird.
Salt Monody, by Marzanna Kielar
from Polish by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese
ISBN 0-939010-86-0 (paper)
5¼ x 8
128 pages [bilingual Polish/English]