Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Wall and Beyond by Joanna Kurowska

Joanna Kurowska

Joanna Kurowska's newest collection of poems consists of works that were originally written in Polish and published in her native land.  The poems, as the title suggests, deal with the image of the wall, the obstacle.  When I asked her about this she said, "As the title suggests, my recurring motif is 'the wall.' It reflects the confrontation between dreams and reality; a sense of estrangement following my immigration to the US in 1988; finally, my struggle with the idea of God against the experience of religion and world’s theodicy.  Probing the wall’s nature, I come to realization that the wall is part of human nature. Ultimately, I strive to affirm life; to reach beyond the wall."

Here is one of the poems from this book.  

Joseph Conrad (for Don Marshall)

In a broken jar, the sea leaks through the cracks.
Sailors despair; nothing rocks them anymore.
The gristmill of time changes aquatic plants,
fish, prayers, and people, into yellow sand.

In a mirror, love watches its image—fright.
Their glances—a bridge stretching into the dark.
A rainbow of faces flicker in the glass;
one of them is yours but you don’t know which one.

The spirit hiding in life’s seashell is pain.
He is the god-figure that opens the door
and takes you to the earth’s heart and the hand’s palm
where long-forgotten sources flow over stones.

The following is a more recent poem which Ms. Kurowska wrote in English: 


I loved cupboards
—the little spaces in which
I arranged packages of tea
ceramic mugs, saucers,
and fine china

I loved the secrecy
and the mellow smell
of the woody interiors
superbly designed
yet subject to change

I thought they would
never let me down—
my small eternities;
but they too go away
one after another

For all the tea and fine china,
they refuse to contain me
When I open the little doors
I hear a silent good-bye
ringing in my thoughts

(both poems originially appeared in Apple Valley Review


Joanna Kurowska has published poetry in Apple Valley ReviewBateauChristianity and LiteratureInternational Poetry Review, Oklahoma ReviewPenwood ReviewRoomSolo Novo, and elsewhere. Her poetry collection Inclusions is forthcoming from Červená Barva Press.  Previously, Joanna published two books of poetry in Poland (Ściana : The Wall, 1997; and Obok : Near, 1999). 

She holds a doctorate in literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago (2007) and her critical works appeared in Anglican Theological ReviewThe Conradian (forthcoming); Joseph Conrad TodayNewPages, Sarmatian ReviewSlavic and East European Journal, and elsewhere. She has taught at American universities, including the University of Chicago and, most recently, Indiana University, Bloomington IN.

Here are some links to other poems she's written:

-Joanna's facebook page:

-Apple Valley Review, Fall 2011: 
-Write From Wrong (December 2010):
-Strong Verse (October 2010):


Her book The Wall and Beyond is available from eLectio Publishing and Amazon.  (Click on the links to purchase)


Gloria Mindock said...

Joanna is a wonderful writer. I look forward to reading this book. Thanks for posting this John.
Gloria Mindock

John Guzlowski said...

When is her book from your Cervana Braza Press coming out, Gloria?

Jesse Greever said...

Just an update: the link for eLectio Publishing's page for The Wall & Beyond is no longer correct. The correct link is:

Sorry for the confusion!

Jesse S. Greever
CEO, eLectio Publishing

Anew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joanna Kurowska said...


Six of my poems (bi-lingual) have just appeared in PISARZE.PL. The selection includes poems pertaining to Polish history; emigration; and my recurring topic, religion. Some of these poems (see the link below) have appeared also in THE WALL & BEYOND; others are included in my poetry book INCLUSIONS forthcoming 2013 from Červena Barvá Press.
Sześć z moich wierszy (w obu językach) ukazało się właśnie w PISARZE.PL. Wybór zawiera wiersze dotyczące polskiej historii; emigracji; oraz - mój częsty temat - religii. Niektóre z tych wierszy ukazały się też THE WALL & BEYOND; inne ukażą się w 2013, tomiku INCLUSIONS w Červena Barvá Press, w przygotowaniu.