Poetry
Wojciech Kass
Metaf. 20 Poems of Setting

Kass is a clever poet; he knows the paths to lead the reader down to interesting places

In the city of W. Early morning

She gets up, deftly slips her panties on —
hear how the band snaps on her naked hip?
Once more the city is urged by the light
groggy, as if struggling to crawl out
of a bed warm from two young bodies
or a dog’s coat, stroked at dawn
by the tender fingers of the waitress at the Orpheus.
How many doors at this hour close forever,
how many people turn their backs in contempt
upon the dawn, how many gates are opened
wide to a strong draught?
At noon the gong of sunlight pushes in here
blinding the room becomes, like a pond
and what it dreamt up, awakens
to stagger drunkenly in search
of its own contours, a visible hinge.
Shade overtakes the sparrow on the balcony
of the neighbour woman wasted thin by dreaming
to sink farther away. In what body this brightness,
in what shrinkage?
You hear the snap of elastic band the rush
of blood, you, staring at the flashing bridge
over the river?

That from the dead

She dreamt she went downstairs, opened the doors,
that she stepped out into the morning, the bright garden,
that on a table near the bower sat a bee-eater,
a parrot on the backrest of the wicker chair
a corax on a larch branch, that there flew by
an oriole dead for ages, that a goldfinch
picked at its feathers on an ancient root
that other birds, colourful and exotic,
hemmed in the garden and sang one after another
except for the finch, for it ruffled its wings
that it sang what was needful, needful
immediately needful in a perfect way
that from the dead, that living she finds
that the shimmering service, that the pulsing arras,
that the flashing satin, that the splash of wonder
that the drizzling abundance, that there escaped
absolutely
nothing.

There were many such

O water of Lake Nidzkie, my exorcist
You doubt, O you of little faith? There were many such
and when they were not returning they tossed towels, suits
and said: It’s fine, it’s otherwise
but no one ever found that one word
no one knew what happened.
For all that they brightened in a heretofore unknown order.

9 June 2019

Translated by Charles S. Kraszewski

Poetry
Wojciech Kass
Metaf. 20 Poems of Setting

Kass is a clever poet; he knows the paths to lead the reader down to interesting places

Publisher: Austeria, Warszawa 2020
Translation rights: Wojciech Kass, kassandra@poczta.onet.pl
Foreign language translations: Selected poems by Wojciech Kass have been translated into English, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, and Spanish.

Wojciech Kass is a poet writing from the province. He serves as the director of a museum dedicated to the memory of another poet – Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, located in Pranie among the Masurian Lake District. This is a charming spot, peaceful, far from the uproar of large centres, although pulsing with activity. The newest volume of Kass’s poetry, as the subtitle 20 wierszy o położeniu [20 Poems of Setting] suggests – consists of twenty verses ‘set’ in particular areas. Areas for humans – areas both municipal and metaf (this is the title) – metaphysical…

Sandomierz, the Cities of W. and O., Lake Nidzkie, these are only some of the places mentioned by name (or only partially discovered names). However, the most important ‘setting’ of the cycle, perhaps, is a totally different one – an interior area, one might say. It is a setting in which the spirit is realised, the spirit of the newcomer and the spirit of the locality itself. There, where we penetrate, we are accompanied by that ‘tender emotion / gazing about creation, that call of mediation’ [czułe poruszanie, / rozglądanie po stworzonym, zew namysłu] as he states in the poem Raid [Łapanka]. We set off in search of the spirit, the domain of which is a dynamic, which slays inanition.

Kass is a clever poet; he knows the paths to lead the reader down to interesting places… He also knows that one cannot provide ready answers (who can?). One may simply point out the route; about the goal of the journey, it’s better to keep silent. If in the first verse he writes ‘no one ever found that one word / no one knew what happened’ [nikt nie znajdował tego jedynego słowa, / nikt nie wiedział, co się wydarzyło] in the second half of the volume he continues with this thought, bringing to an end his summing up of that which is visible, sensible, tangible and audible, with the statement that ‘there escaped absolutely / nothing’ [że nie wymykało się / nic]. And in this ‘nothing’ there is, after all, everything!

Jakub Pacześniak

Translated by Charles S. Kraszewski

Selected samples

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Aleksandra Lipczak
Jacek Dukaj
Wit Szostak
Bartosz Biedrzycki
Zyta Rudzka
Maciej Płaza
Wojciech Chmielewski
Paweł Huelle
Angelika Kuźniak
Wojciech Kudyba
Michał Protasiuk
Stanisław Rembek
Rembek
Krzysztof Karasek
Elżbieta Isakiewicz
Artur Daniel Liskowacki
Jarosław Jakubowski
Zbigniew Stawrowski
Szczepan Twardoch
Wojciech Chmielarz
Robert Małecki
Zygmunt Miłoszewski
Anna Piwkowska
Dominika Słowik
Wojciech Chmielewski
Barbara Banaś
Rafał Mikołajczyk
Jerzy Szymik
Waldemar Bawołek
Julia Fiedorczuk
Jakub Szamałek
Witold Szabłowski
Jacek Dukaj
Grzegorz Górny, Janusz Rosikoń
Paweł Piechnik
Andrzej Strumiłło

69

Marta Kwaśnicka
Piotr Mitzner
Paweł Sołtys
Wacław Holewiński
Anna Potyra
Wiesław Helak
Urszula Zajączkowska
Marek Stokowski
Stokowski
Hubert Klimko-Dobrzaniecki
HKD
Jakub Małecki
Malecki_Horyzont
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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