Poetry
Szymon Babuchowski
How Far

In a search for meaning in a world plagued by emptiness

* * *

little boy cast ashore on a Greek island
little shell from which life drained quietly away
I’d like to hold you wrap you in a towel
and carry you to a room full of toys

little boy cast ashore your photo
will spread across the world it’ll be an argument
for and against with it we’ll strike each other
before a wave arrives and shuts us up

that’s always how it is: flocks of birds
swarm and peck at everything that still
smells of life – don’t blame them for this
after all even this poem is feeding off of you

little boy cast ashore you could’ve been
an older brother to my daughter who lies down
to sleep exactly as you do yes asleep for you didn’t
die you only sleep and sleep

A Faroese Ballad

so you’ve brought me this far to the brink
so that I be touched by this cold paradise of yours
on the North Shore
so that I not overlook
or oversleep and miss those waves of yours

and I beheld how the world ends
a light rocked to and fro on the edge
a white church on the cliff
further on were only waters rough
with wind

and I ran after the voice of waves
with green grass at my feet
straight into the vale
from where I’ll sail one day
where I’ll be assailed by an unknown tide

* * *

our shadows on the road tall like
trees blended in procession: mom – dad – child
in orange light just before night arrives
our mundane smallness transfiguring to gothic

and the church glides across pavement-waters
and the light elevates us the sun reconciles us
plunged in afterglow from horizon to toe
we sail this boat – with morning ever closer

translated by Lynn Suh

Poetry
Szymon Babuchowski
How Far

In a search for meaning in a world plagued by emptiness

Publisher: Wydawnictwo Arcana, Kraków 2018
Translation rights: Szymon Babuchowski, babuchowski@wp.pl

In his volume of poetry How Far, Szymon Babuchowski shows how a man of the 21st century – a husband, a lover, a father – is able to fill the world around him, a world plagued by the empti- ness of building blocks and interpersonal relationships, with a search for meaning.

The speaker in the book is a man who believes deeply in God, a man living in a subdued landscape of prefab apartment blocks among which life can be disappointing and difficult to bear. Despite his impression of being surrounded by a dying city, he knows that each moment could well transform the face of the world. Against this backdrop, seemingly adverse to momentous experiences and shut off from transcend- ence, the poet writes poems trembling ‘like pages in the wind’ through which Miłosz’s ‘second space’ – the supernatural dimension – shines through and is able to light up previously unrevealed corners of reality. For instance, in what is probably the volume’s most beautiful poem (The Stanisław Mineshaft in Murcki), a fourteen-minute wait for a city bus transfer turns into an occasion to observe an affinity between the subterranean spaces of cemeteries and mines: in both one feels the presence of non-presence, its seductive mystery. In Babuchowski’s poetry, the unearthly, other-dimensional side of reality ceaselessly emerges from behind the landscapes, objects, and people described.

Relying upon classical diction, without succumbing to the literary fashions which he makes mention of in his book (‘one doesn’t write this way today’), Babuchowski points out that in poetry a clear medium and message matter.

The most important moment in the volume’s lyrical narration comes in the title poem How Far, in which the poet is called upon by the Creator who compels him, like Adam in the book of Genesis, to respond to the question ‘Where are you?’ (This citation forms the collection’s epigraph.) In the poem, Babuchowski offers an account, asking himself if he has remained faithful to the truths he has chosen for himself and how this choice has brought him closer to God. Full of affirmation of the everyday, his stanzas are ostensibly his answers, at times reminiscent of songs, which is not surprising given that the author is the leader of the band Dobre Ludzie [Good People].

This volume of verse constitutes a story about little loves which become vast under the poet’s pen, a poet who does not hesitate to write [as] in Prayer: ‘may my last / word / be / God’.

Barbara Gruszka-Zych, translated by Lynn Suh

Publisher: Wydawnictwo Arcana, Kraków 2018
Translation rights: Szymon Babuchowski, babuchowski@wp.pl

Selected samples

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Łukasz Orbitowski
Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
Rejmer
Rafał Wojasiński
Olanda
Wojciech Kudyba
Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
Liebert
Wojciech Zembaty
Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
Chmielarz
Bogdan Musiał
Musiał
Joanna Siedlecka
Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Drozdowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Marek Bieńczyk
Bienczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
Elektorowicz
Adrian Sinkowski
Sinkowski
Szymon Babuchowski
Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Majewski
Weronika Murek
Murek
Agnieszka Świętek
Swietek
Stanisław Szukalski
Barbara Klicka
Klicka
Anna Kamińska

She climbed her first peaks in a headscarf at a time when women in the mountains were treated by climbers as an additional backpack. It was with her that female alpinism began! She gained recognition in a spectacular way. The path was considered a crossing for madmen. Especially since the tragic accident in 1929, preserved … Continue reading “Halina”

Wojciech Chmielarz

First, Marysia, a student of an exclusive private school in Warsaw’s Mokotów district, dies under the wheels of a train. Her teacher, Elżbieta, tries to find out what really happened. She starts a private investigation only soon to perish herself. But her body disappears, and the only people who have seen anything are Gniewomir, a … Continue reading “Wound”

Anna Kańtoch

A young girl, Regina Wieczorek, was found dead on the beach. She was nineteen years old and had no enemies. Fortunately, the culprit was quickly found. At least, that’s what the militia think. Meanwhile, one day in November, Jan Kowalski appears at the police station. He claims to have killed not only Regina but also … Continue reading “Penance”

Marek Krajewski

The year is 1922. A dangerous time of breakthrough. In the Eastern Borderlands of the Republic of Poland, Bolshevik gangs sow terror, leaving behind the corpses of men and disgraced women. A ruthless secret intelligence race takes place between the Lviv-Warsaw-Free City of Gdańsk line. Lviv investigator Edward Popielski, called Łysy (“Hairless”), receives an offer … Continue reading “A Girl with Four Fingers”

Ks. Tomasz Stępień

This question is closely related to the next one, namely: if any goal exists, does life lead us to that goal in an orderly manner? In other words, is everything that happens to us just a set of chaotic events that, combined together, do not form a whole? To understand how the concept of providence … Continue reading “Order and Love”

Jakub Małecki
Szczepan Twardoch
Wiesław Helak
Maria Wilczek-Krupa
Anna Kańtoch
Rafał Kosik
Paweł Sołtys
Dorota Masłowska
Wiesław Myśliwski
Martyna Bunda
Olga Tokarczuk
Various authors
Mariola Kruszewska
Waldemar Bawołek
Marek Oleksicki, Tobiasz Piątkowski
Wojciech Tomczyk
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar
Ks. Robert Skrzypczak
Bronisław Wildstein
Anna Bikont
Magdalena Grzebałkowska
Wojciech Orliński
Klementyna Suchanow
Andrzej Franaszek
Natalia Budzyńska
Marian Sworzeń
Aleksandra Wójcik, Maciej Zdziarski
Józef Łobodowski

The work of Józef Łobodowski (1909-1988) – a remarkable poet, prose writer, and translator, who spent most of his life in exile – is slowly being revived in Poland. Łobodowski’s brilliant three- volume novel, composed on an epic scale, concerns the fate of families and orphans unmoored by the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war and … Continue reading “Ukrainian Trilogy: Thickets, The Settlement, The Way Back”

Piotr Zaremba
Wacław Holewiński
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