Biography of Adam Zagajewski
Adam Zagajewski is a Polish poet, novelist, translator and essayist. He was awarded the 2004 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
He was born in Lwów (since January 1, 1946 Lvov, Ukrainian SSR). The Zagajeski family was expelled from Lwów by the Ukrainians to central Poland the same year. In 1982 he emigrated to Paris, but in 2002 he returned to Poland, and resides in Kraków. His poem "Try To Praise The Mutilated World", printed in The New Yorker, became famous after the 11 September attacks. He is currently a faculty member at the University of Chicago and a member of its Committee on Social Thought. He teaches two classes, one of which is on fellow Polish poet Czesław Miłosz.
Adam Zagajewski's Works:
Komunikat. Kraków, 1972.
Sklepy mięsne. Kraków, 1975.
List. Oda do wielości. Paris, 1983.
Jechać do Lwowa. London, 1985.
Płótno. Paris, 1990.
Ziemia ognista. Poznań, 1994.
Trzej aniołowie. Kraków, 1998.
Pragnienie. Kraków, 1999.
Powrót. Kraków, 2003.
Anteny. Kraków, 2005.
Unseen Hand (Niewidzialna ręka). Kraków, 2009.
Wiersze wybrane. Kraków, 2010.
Books in English translation
Mysticism for Beginners (1997)
Without End: New and Selected Poems (2002)
Eternal Enemies: Poems (2008)
Unseen Hand: Poems (2011)
Adam Zagajewski Poems
Try To Praise The Mutilated World
Try to praise the mutilated world. Remember June's long days, and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew. The nettles that methodically overgrow
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
Between the computer, a pencil, and a typewriter half my day passes. One day it will be half a century. I live in strange cities and sometimes talk with strangers about matters strange to me.
Always caught up in what they called the practical side of life (theory was for Plato), up to their elbows in furniture, in bedding,
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.
Vermeer's Little Girl
Vermeer's little girl, now famous watches me. A pearl watches me. The lips of Vermeer's little girl are red, moist, and shining.
Without silence there would be no music. Life paired is doubtless more difficult than solitary existence -
I watched the arctic landscape from above and thought of nothing, lovely nothing. I observed white canopies of clouds, vast expanses where no wolf tracks could be found.
I read your poetry once more, poems written by a rich man, knowing all, and by a beggar, homeless,
Vermeer's Little Girl
Vermeer's little girl, now famous
watches me. A pearl watches me.
The lips of Vermeer's little girl
are red, moist, and shining.
Oh Vermeer's little girl, oh pearl,
blue turban: you are all light
and I am made of shadow.
Light looks down on shadow