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The University of Texas at Austin
College of Liberal Arts


Some information about:

  Two poems (in the author's reading) A D A M    Z A G A J E W S K I

    Adam Zagajewski, internationally acclaimed Polish poet, fiction writer, and essayist,
    visited  the UT Austin campus on April 8th (Wednesday).

ADAM ZAGAJEWSKI, Polish poet, fiction writer, and essayist, has lived in France since 1982. He was born in richly multicultural Lwów (today in Ukraine) in 1945 and spent his youth first in Silesia and then in Cracow, where he graduated from the Jagiellonian University. He published his first volume of poetry in 1972 and a collection of essays (with Julian Kornhauser) in 1974 which amounted to a literary manifesto. He has been considered a representative of the `Generation of ‘68’ or New Wave (Nowa fala): he was an active dissident during the seventies, and some of his poems and essays deal with political issues. On emigration from Poland in 1982, he settled in Paris; since 1988 he has served as Visiting Associate Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, where he teaches graduate classes in poetry and literature every spring semester. He won a fellowship from the Berliner Kunstlerprogramm (1979), the Kurt Tucholsky Prize (Stockholm), a Prix de la Liberté (Paris), and a Guggenheim Fellowship for poetry (1992). He is currently co-editor of Zeszyty literackie (Literary Review), published in Paris. His poems and essays have been translated into many European languages and widely published, including in the Times Literary Supplement, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and the Partisan Review. Two translations of his work published in 1997, an anthology of essays and a collection of his poetry, were recently reviewed in March 23rd (1998) issue of The New Republic.

A partial bibliography follows.

Poetry (Wiersze):

    Komunikat ‘Communiqué’ (Cracow: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1972)
    Sklepy miesne ‘Meat stores’ (Cracow: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1975)
    List ‘A letter’ (Poznań: Od Nowa, 1978)
    List - Oda do wielosci `Letter - An ode to quantity'’ (Cracow: Pólka Poetów, 1982; Paris: Instytut literacki, 1983)
    Jechac do Lwowa ‘To Travel to Lwów’ (with drawings by Józef Czapski) (London: Aneks, 1985)
    Tremor: Selected poems in English. Translated from the Polish by Renata Gorczynski.  (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1985)
    <PCL: PG 7185 A32 A24 1985; and Stephan Poetry Collection (library use)>
    Canvas. Translated from the Polish by Renata Gorczyński, B. Ivry and C. K. Williams (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1991) [Plótno (Paris: Zeszyty Literackie, 1990)] <PCL: PG 7185 A32 A24 1991>
    Dzikie czeresnie, wybór wierszy  ‘Wild Cherries, a Selection of Poetry’ (Cracow: Znak, 1992)
    Ziemia ognista ‘Land in flames’ (Poznań: A5, 1994)
    Mysticism for beginners. Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanaugh. (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997). <PCL: PG 7185 A32 A23>

    Selected poems in translation appear in Barańczak, Stanislaw and Clare Cavanagh, Spoiling Cannibals’ fun: Polish poetry of the last two decades of communist rule (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1991). <PCL>


    Cieplo, zimno ‘It's Warm, It's Cold’ (Warsaw: Państwowy instytut wydawniczy, 1975)
    Das absolute Gehör (‘Absolute Hearing’). Published in German. (Zürich, 1982)
    Cienka kreska ‘The Thin Line’ (Cracow: Znak, 1983)

Criticism and essays:

    (with Julian Kornhauser), Swiat nie przedstawiony `The World Not Represented’ (Cracow: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1974)
    Drugi oddech ‘Second Wind’ (Cracow: Znak, 1978)
    Solidarity and Solitude. Translated by Lillian Vallee. (New York: Ecco Press, 1990). [Solidarnoœć i samotnoœć  (Paris: Zeszyty Literackie, 1986]   <PCL and UGL: DK 4442 Z3413>
    Two Cities: Essays on exile, history, and the imagination. Translated by Lillian Vallee. (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997). [Dwa miasta [Paris/Cracow: Zeszyty literackie/Oficyna literacka, 1991] <PCL: PG 7185 A32 D8913>

    Preface to Letters and drawings of Bruno Schulz, with selected prose (Fromm International: New York, 1990)
     <PCL: PG 7158 S294 A22>

Two poems in English translation (click on the title to hear the author read the original):


Probably I am an ordinary middle-class
believer in individual rights, the word
"freedom" is simple to me, it doesn't mean
the freedom of any class in particular.
Politically naive, with an average
education (brief moments of clear vision
are its main nourishment), I remember
the blazing appeal of that fire which parches
the lips of the thirsty crowd and burns
books and chars the skin of cities. I used to sing
those songs and I know how great it is
to run with others; later, by myself,
with the taste of ashes in my mouth, I heard
the lie's ironic voice and the choir screaming
and when I touched my head I could feel
the arched skull of my country, its hard edge.
    Translated by Renata Gorczynski

Don't Allow the Lucid Moment to Dissolve

Don't allow the lucid moment to dissolve
Let the radiant thought last in stillness
though the page is almost filled and the flame flickers
We haven't risen yet to the level of ourselves
Knowledge grows slowly like a wisdom tooth
The stature of a man is still notched
high up on a white door
From far off, the joyful voice of a trumpet
and of a song rolled up like a cat
What passes doesn't fall into a void
A stoker is still feeding coal into the fire
Don't allow the lucid moment to dissolve
On a hard dry substance
you have to engrave the truth
    Translated by Renata Gorczynski


This page was last modified on 06 July 2001 . Please direct all comments to Prof. Gilbert Rappaport.