Adrian Sinkowski

Writing down irretrievably lost memories from childhood allows one to come to terms with loss


Outside they’re drinking beer. Out of nothing
rain clouds gather, a minute later nothing gathers about the rain.
Atropine, is it capable of allowing me to see,
grandma dear, one who’s no longer here? Or you,

then at forty, making breakfast
for a boy, a father in the future, long before mom,
albeit she, and he, had been missing someone.
So different were you then that I’m uncertain

of everyone, that includes myself, if time won’t leave
us twisting in the wind: what courage is required
to see in a man one calls dad,
who traces and retraces, not always at the right time, his steps

to the theatre and back, as if
being on the constant move were to somehow help him out,
to see in him a boy in tracksuit, with a face appointed in people
to whom it seems nothing is something wrong.


Chokeberries, nothing more. One, eight, ten or
a dozen, as many steps to move on up,
past the wicket gate grass leans on the back of a kiosk.
I turn, till the railway platform disappears, not at once, in due time

I dig up toys from the ground on the other side of the forest –
evidence that the chokeberries halfway from home
to the station haven’t conceived a hopeless mystery
for many years, but dote on it, to make it their own.

Pssst, when I won’t have anything to say,
I don’t reckon it will change anything if I sift
out of this what is true from what isn’t.
It’s something else to enquire to whom belong

the muddied car and model ship made
of plastic, an earthworm wrapped around them.
Looking at the bite mark, I think that they felt
out of place well aware that chokeberries will turn them in.


Not so long ago I didn’t have anything to hide anymore,
no verse or sentence which proliferated
in walls, or grew beneath the floor in silence,
becoming somewhat truncated but not becoming senseless,

it’s not so certain that the curse (and it was a curse agreeing
to use the verse, the sentence, this way and that on paper)
will vanish into air, and so it happened
not the way it was supposed to, because dust from books took


the curse with it but didn’t bring it back on time,
causing me to look around at night for an alibi.
I’m distracted by too many things. The care with which light
undresses sense to the skin, slowly, without euphoria

draws attention away from the sentence, which saw
in the curse a last chance to emerge.
Apparently probable enough to believe in it.
The sentence was left with nothing, nothing stayed with me.

translated by Lynn Suh

Adrian Sinkowski

Writing down irretrievably lost memories from childhood allows one to come to terms with loss

Publisher: Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Sopotu, Sopot 2018
Translation rights: sinkowski.adrian@gmail.com; Topos, topos10@interia.pl

Atropine, a chemical substance used in medicine to dilate the pupil of the eye, also broadens the eyes of the soul in Sinkowski’s volume of poetry. It allows an adult man, husband, and father to meet his dead grandmother by returning him to boyhood. However, the memory of the past as recorded in verse turns out to be entirely different than what the speaker is familiar with.

The strength of Sinkowski’s poems is, above all, their elaborate form rarely found in contemporary poetry. In Atropine, the author writes in Polish alexandrine verse. This is a meter that corresponds in Polish poetry to the heroic verses of Homer and is mainly associated with Adam Mickiewicz’s national epic Pan Tadeusz, in which Mickiewicz writes: ‘I see and I describe’. The same thing can be said for Sinkowski, for whom the titular atropine is a metaphor for literature that wishes to note down a fragment of reality. Consequently, each poem in the book recalls a little story. A constant characteristic of the poet’s style is a passion for the seemingly insignificant detail, the description of which becomes a strong metaphor for time irretrievably lost. The most significant theme in Sinkowski’s poems is in fact the fear of silence which is synonymous with death. In this book of poetry, a dead grandma still lives, but only in verse. Thus the words of Seamus Heaney return here like a refrain: ‘[W]hen I have nothing more to say’: Sinkowski seems to be saying: When I have nothing more to say, the whole world will die, because only in being retold anew can it truly exist. That is why the title of the book is at the same time the name of one of the Greek Miorai, Atropos, who determines a person’s hour of death. Writing down irretrievably lost memories from childhood allows one to come to terms with loss. And this is probably Sinkowski’s most significant message.

Ireneusz Staroń, translated by Lynn Suh

Selected samples

Szczepan Twardoch
Wojciech Chmielarz
Robert Małecki
Zygmunt Miłoszewski
Anna Piwkowska
Dominika Słowik
Wojciech Chmielewski
Barbara Banaś
Rafał Mikołajczyk
Waldemar Bawołek
Julia Fiedorczuk
Jakub Szamałek
Witold Szabłowski
Jacek Dukaj
Grzegorz Górny, Janusz Rosikoń
Paweł Piechnik
Andrzej Strumiłło


Marta Kwaśnicka
Piotr Mitzner
Paweł Sołtys
Wacław Holewiński
Anna Potyra
Wiesław Helak
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marek Stokowski
Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki
Jakub Małecki
Łukasz Orbitowski
Małgorzata Rejmer
Rafał Wojasiński
Wojciech Kudyba
Włodzimierz Bolecki
Jerzy Liebert
Wojciech Zembaty
Wojciech Chmielarz
Bogdan Musiał
Joanna Siedlecka
Krzysztof Tyszka-Drozdowski
Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz
Marek Bieńczyk
Leszek Elektorowicz
Adrian Sinkowski
Szymon Babuchowski
Lech Majewski
Weronika Murek
Agnieszka Świętek
Stanisław Szukalski
Barbara Klicka
Anna Kamińska

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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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