Polish poet Adam Zagajewski strikes chord in China
Polish poet Adam Zagajewski will see the first two volumes of his poems translated into Chinese launched in Guangzhou this month, but he's already made a name for himself among the mainland's literati.
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#1 Mar 23, 2014
<<His poetic musings on cities are wrapped up with the nomadic existence he lived for many years in exile, and even from his very early days. Born in Lvov in western Ukraine in 1945, his family was expelled by the Ukrainians to central Poland the next year.
"I was born under the sign of shifting borders.[Recent] events in Ukraine make me shiver because it's like the past coming back, the possibility of changing borders once again, and we need as human beings some stability in our lives. This aggressive Russian policy is really scary - it brings back the worst European years," says Zagajewski.
In one of his best known poems, To Go to Lvov, he writes of having to flee the city: "I won't see you anymore, so much death/awaits you, why must every city/become Jerusalem and every man a Jew/and now in a hurry just pack". But despite the obvious terror of having to abandon the city, the shifting borders, it ends on a positive note: "go breathless, go to Lvov, after all/it exists, quiet and pure as/a peach. It is everywhere."
This delving into deep issues yet while maintaining optimism in the apparent darkness is typical of Zagajewski's writing. At a reading recently, he was asked whether poets were always melancholy, dwelling on sadness, and was fast to quash the idea.
"Poetry is a strange mix of sadness and joy. There is some melancholy, but the very act of writing a poem liberates some joy. For me the ideal poetry is a poem that is neither sad nor joyful but has a kind of equilibrium between the two," he says.>>
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