Monday, May 26, 2008

Bill Johnston's New Poems by Tadeusz Rozewicz Wins Translation Award

Bill Johnston recently received the first annual Found in Translation Award for his translation of New Poems by Tadeusz Rozewicz (Archipelago Books, 2007). The award, established in 2007, is given annually for the best translation of a work of Polish literature into English.
Rozewicz has had a number of excellent translators over the years including Milosz, Adam Czerniawski, and Victor Contoski, and Bill Johnston continues that tradition. He captures the essential calmness and sanity of Rozewicz's voice as it speaks of a world that is mostly chaotic and insane.
Here's one of Johnston's translations:

"It's past and gone [...]
Best would be to go mad."
(Tadeusz Konwicki, Afterglows)

And once again
the past begins

best would be to go mad
you're right Tadzio
but our generation doesn't go mad
our eyes stay open
to the very end

we don't need to be blindfolded
we have no use for the paradises
of faiths sects religions

with broken backs
we crawl on

yes Tadzio at the end
we have to relive everything
from the beginning
you know that as well as I
at times we whisper
all people will be brothers
in life's labyrinth
we encounter
distorted faces of friends

you hear me
I'll tell you an image from the past
again I'm running away
from a specter who
wrapped in a gaberdine of sky
stands in a green meadow
and speaks to me in an unknown language
I am the lord thy god
who led thee out of the house of bondage

everything starts from the beginning

once again Mr. Turski
my singing teacher
looks at me with the handsome
sweet eyes
of Omar Sharif

and I sing
the apple tree has blossomed (...)
red apples did it bear ...
I know I'm out of tune
but Mr. Turski has been smiling
at me since 1930
and I get an A
Mr. Turski in a fragrant
strange cloud
exotic and mysterious
for an elementary school
in a provincial town
between Częstochowa and Piotrków Trybunalski
and takes his mystery
to the grave

when will the past
finally end

Two excellent review-essays on Johnston's translation of Rozewicz's New Poems are available online. Ron Slate writes about it at his blog, and Rainer J. Hanshe's "Writing the Apocalypse: Voicing Silence Through Time" appears at the Nietzsche Circle.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Recently, I've been moving (from Georgia to Virginia via U-Haul), and I've been ill (shingles!), and it's taken me a while to get back to posting about writing and writing projects the readers of this blog may be interested in. But the boxes are getting emptied (thanks to my wife Linda's will and courage) and the shingles are a little less painful than they were.

So here's some of the news I've come across:

Tony Bukoski's new collection of short stories, North of the Port, is available from Southern Methodist University Press and Amazon. This is what Stuart Dybek said about the collection: "A quintessential writer of place, Bukoski is one in whom imagination is indistinguishable from empathy. A lovely, soulful book." I know Dybek has it right. I've read Bukoski's other collections about the Polish Americans living in the hard North Country, and those stories are perfect.

Phil Boiarski, the author of the powerful Coal and Ice has recently started a blog called Boiarski the Blog. There, he shares his thoughts about writing, creativity, mother's day, and reading. The site also includes generous samplings of his creative writing.
The latest issue of Mark Pawlak's journal Hanging Loose is out now and contains poems by three Polish-American: Sharon Mesmer, Stephen Lewandowski, and me. The journal and Hanging Loose Press has a rich history of publishing excellent young and established writers.
Elisabeth Murawski has recently published a poem entitle "Twelve, Awkward, with Shame" in The Literary Review. The poem is available online at ESCENE: The Best of the Literary Journals.
Polish-American poet Jeremy Edward Shiok, the editor of Two Review, wrote to invite the readers of this blog to submit to his independent, annual print journal of poetry and nonfiction. He also invites people to stop by the journal's website to get a sense of what the journal's like.