Poetry Daily ran these poems by Janusz Szuber today, and Phil Boiarski (author of Coal and Ice) sent me a note about it. Phil likes the poems a lot, and I do too.
Janusz was born in 1947 in Poland and lives in the old city of Sanok.
About a Boy Stirring Jam
A wooden spoon for stirring jam,
Dripping sweet tar, while in the pan
Plum magma's bubbles blather.
For someone who can't grasp the whole
There's salvation in the remembered detail.
What, back then, did I know about that?
The real, hard as a diamond,
Was to happen in the indefinable
Future, and everything seemed
Only a sign of what was to come. How naïve.
Now I know inattention is an unforgivable sin
And each particle of time has an ultimate dimension.
The gray building of a pig farm, inside
Grunting and growling, almost black doughy mud
Through which they slogged, in squelching rubber boots,
That wet summer abounding in frogs, they worked
By accident on this farm, not quite a farm, in a poor
Region of dwarf pines and junipers,
Partly withered, at the edge of sloping
Pastures and soggy meadows, over which,
Once or twice a week, border patrols flew
In the potbellied dragonflies of helicopters, everything here,
Despite the emptiness stretching on for miles,
Barren, nobody's, was filled entirely with itself,
And when you sat over beer under the roof of that makeshift bar,
Without the need to prove anything,
All this had something in it that could never
Be trapped by metaphor.
The poems were translated by Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough and come from the book They Carry A Promise: Selected Poems.
Here's what people are saying about Janusz and his poetry:
This bracing collection marks the first appearance in English of the Polish poet Janusz Szuber, hailed as the greatest discovery in Polish poetry of the late twentieth century when, in his late forties, he began publishing the work he’d been producing for almost thirty years. Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska has called him a “superb poet,” and Zbigniew Herbert said that “his poetry speaks to the hard part of the soul.”