Cover image for Selected poems : the weight of the body
Title:
Selected poems : the weight of the body
Author:
Barańczak, Stanisław, 1946-2014.
Publication Information:
Evanston, IL : TriQuaterly Books, Northwestern University ; Chicago : Another Chicago Press, 1989.
Physical Description:
68 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780929968018

9780929968025
Format :
Book

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PG7161.A67 A24 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Lightning quick and razor sharp, the great Polish poet is straight man to the tragi-comedies of order and chaos. Winner of the Terrance Des Pres Prize for Poetry. (RC) Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR


Summary

Lightning quick and razor sharp, the great Polish poet is straight man to the tragi-comedies of order and chaos. Winner of the Terrance Des Pres Prize for Poetry. (RC) Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR


Author Notes

Stanislaw Baranczak was born on November 13, 1946 in Poznan, Poland. He received a Ph.D. in Polish at Adam Mickiewicz University. During the late 1960s, his poetry ridiculed the absurdity of the communist system and its artificial language. He co-founded the Workers' Defense Committee in 1977, following a brutal communist crackdown on protesting workers. For his activity he was fired from his job at the Adam Mickiewicz University and his writings were barred from print in Poland.

In 1981, he became a lecturer at Harvard University, where he worked until 1997 when he left due to Parkinson's disease. In 1999, his poem collection, Surgical Precision, won the Nike, Poland's most prestigious literary prize. He translated many authors from Polish to English and from English to Polish, including works by William Shakespeare, John Donne, Emily Dickinson, and Bob Dylan. He also translated from Russian and from Lithuanian. In 1996, he shared the U.S. PEN Translation Prize with Clare Cavanagh for putting into English a collection by Poland's Nobel Prize-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska. He died after a long debilitating disease on December 26, 2014 at the age of 68.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Stanislaw Baranczak was born on November 13, 1946 in Poznan, Poland. He received a Ph.D. in Polish at Adam Mickiewicz University. During the late 1960s, his poetry ridiculed the absurdity of the communist system and its artificial language. He co-founded the Workers' Defense Committee in 1977, following a brutal communist crackdown on protesting workers. For his activity he was fired from his job at the Adam Mickiewicz University and his writings were barred from print in Poland.

In 1981, he became a lecturer at Harvard University, where he worked until 1997 when he left due to Parkinson's disease. In 1999, his poem collection, Surgical Precision, won the Nike, Poland's most prestigious literary prize. He translated many authors from Polish to English and from English to Polish, including works by William Shakespeare, John Donne, Emily Dickinson, and Bob Dylan. He also translated from Russian and from Lithuanian. In 1996, he shared the U.S. PEN Translation Prize with Clare Cavanagh for putting into English a collection by Poland's Nobel Prize-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska. He died after a long debilitating disease on December 26, 2014 at the age of 68.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 6

Booklist Review

Hurrah for the publication, a decade after his arrival here, of the work of the most prominent of the Polish emigre writers. This book brings together many important earlier poems with works written after Baranczak's exile. The difference is striking. In Poland, the poet's voice is sharp, even shrill, and utterly confident, but he has not yet found, in his new free life, as gripping a subject as the mundanity of oppression in Poland. In his earlier works, Baranczak catalogs the strict etiquette of repression: "You'll come / with us, sir. You'll go / with them. Isn't this a white snow. / Isn't this a black Fiat. / Wasn't that a vast world." And the way daily life goes on despite it all: "There's much crying and in this crying / there is always / so much life." These poems are strong, and so perfect in their unity of emotion and form that the work from friendly America seems weak by comparison: "History's eyes are empty, and over its knocked-out teeth20/ there is no movement." While Baranczak attempts to relocate his muse in a new land, readers can appreciate the passion and precision of his earlier work. --Pat Monaghan


Publisher's Weekly Review

``Exile is just one spectacular float in a long parade of Life's Unpredictable Turns,'' suggests Harvard professor Baranczak, Polish poet, critic and translator who since 1981 has lived in the U.S. His first full-length collection to be published in this country, winner of TriQuarterly 's Terrence Des Pres Prize, reveals him as a master of sad ironies and a ringleader of an extraordinary band of poetic voices ranging in scope from mournful lyricism to bitter farce. The book falls neatly into two halves: the first is concerned with Baranczak's Central European past, haunted by a Kafkaesque bureaucracy; the second chronicles the poet as an uneasy emigre. Yet Baranczak's powerful theme remains constant--the fundamental injustice, shame and horror of the human condition, ``because only this world / is pain,'' and the damning futility of solutions. With black humor and exceptional lyrical force, Baranczak affirms that ``poetry has always been a desperate call for fair play.'' (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Baranczak here joins a growing number of emigre poets from Eastern Europe. A relative newcomer to the United States, he writes poetry that participates much more in the sociopolitical realities of pre-Solidarity Poland, which might be taken as a paradigm for any of the neighboring countries whose policies make it difficult for writers to express themselves without fear of reprisal. Baranczak's poetry reflects these conditions, but the bleakness is offset by a strong sense of humor. In fact, his terse, epigrammatical, and witty style is closer to that of the Romanian Codrescu than to the lyricism of his compatriot Milosz. Compared with so much workshop poetry, Baranczak's expresses real (political) tensions: ``They took away the poems, since there are certain limits and we might as well agree.'' Highly recommended.-- Ivan Arguelles, Univ. of California at Berkeley Lib.. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

Hurrah for the publication, a decade after his arrival here, of the work of the most prominent of the Polish emigre writers. This book brings together many important earlier poems with works written after Baranczak's exile. The difference is striking. In Poland, the poet's voice is sharp, even shrill, and utterly confident, but he has not yet found, in his new free life, as gripping a subject as the mundanity of oppression in Poland. In his earlier works, Baranczak catalogs the strict etiquette of repression: "You'll come / with us, sir. You'll go / with them. Isn't this a white snow. / Isn't this a black Fiat. / Wasn't that a vast world." And the way daily life goes on despite it all: "There's much crying and in this crying / there is always / so much life." These poems are strong, and so perfect in their unity of emotion and form that the work from friendly America seems weak by comparison: "History's eyes are empty, and over its knocked-out teeth20/ there is no movement." While Baranczak attempts to relocate his muse in a new land, readers can appreciate the passion and precision of his earlier work. --Pat Monaghan


Publisher's Weekly Review

``Exile is just one spectacular float in a long parade of Life's Unpredictable Turns,'' suggests Harvard professor Baranczak, Polish poet, critic and translator who since 1981 has lived in the U.S. His first full-length collection to be published in this country, winner of TriQuarterly 's Terrence Des Pres Prize, reveals him as a master of sad ironies and a ringleader of an extraordinary band of poetic voices ranging in scope from mournful lyricism to bitter farce. The book falls neatly into two halves: the first is concerned with Baranczak's Central European past, haunted by a Kafkaesque bureaucracy; the second chronicles the poet as an uneasy emigre. Yet Baranczak's powerful theme remains constant--the fundamental injustice, shame and horror of the human condition, ``because only this world / is pain,'' and the damning futility of solutions. With black humor and exceptional lyrical force, Baranczak affirms that ``poetry has always been a desperate call for fair play.'' (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Baranczak here joins a growing number of emigre poets from Eastern Europe. A relative newcomer to the United States, he writes poetry that participates much more in the sociopolitical realities of pre-Solidarity Poland, which might be taken as a paradigm for any of the neighboring countries whose policies make it difficult for writers to express themselves without fear of reprisal. Baranczak's poetry reflects these conditions, but the bleakness is offset by a strong sense of humor. In fact, his terse, epigrammatical, and witty style is closer to that of the Romanian Codrescu than to the lyricism of his compatriot Milosz. Compared with so much workshop poetry, Baranczak's expresses real (political) tensions: ``They took away the poems, since there are certain limits and we might as well agree.'' Highly recommended.-- Ivan Arguelles, Univ. of California at Berkeley Lib.. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.