1.05.2015 Books

Black Square by Tadeusz Dąbrowski

Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

‘Restlessly inventive, sharp-witted, and intent on raising mischief, the poems in Black Square are so much fun to read, it’s almost easy to overlook how deeply serious they are—and how dark. Dąbrowski is part life of the party, part heavy-hearted metaphysician, and he plays his two sides off each other like an expert comedy team with a knack for aphorism and philosophical speculation. “Nothing would be bearable if I weren’t / endlessly somebody else,” he writes, embracing the ever-changing nature of identity—and leaving us thankful he remained himself long enough to complete this brilliant, unforgettable book.’
— Timothy Donnelly

‘Tadeusz Dąbrowski is writing his self-portrait of the artist as a young man. Love, faith and doubt fill its pages. The first chapters of this work in progress are promising, we’ll be looking forward to the sequel…’
— Adam Zagajewski

‘It is hard to define Dąbrowski’s poetry with utter certainty, to say whether its subject has or has not reconciled himself with God—whose authority is never put in question—or what his moral choices are. This is a poetry that complicates matters, that refuses to provide answers, that constructs small treatises in completely unpredictable places—an existence en brut, always becoming, always variable and resistant to definition. This is a poetry that smelts its inheritance into something new, modern, and original, something dynamic, paradoxical, constantly in motion, a poetry that is engaged with today’s world in so many of its manifestations, leaping from theme to theme—art, travel, sex, love (presented in all its succulence, no doubt, and with complete candor, as if this most fragile of human affairs was the only constant in life), computers, camera lenses, Europe, America, quotations from philosophers, and rock lyrics—in its ambitious gambit to comprehend a world that remains elusive and undescribed.’
—from the Introduction by Tomasz Różycki

Tadeusz Dabrowski was born in northern Poland in 1979. From his first volume, published in 1999, he has been critically acclaimed for poetry that combines a tone of metaphysical meditation with the theme of love. His poems are like snapshots taken by a sensitive camera that captures moments filled with the “caring absence” of God and intimacy with the woman the poet loves. Here we find gravity laced with humor and sublimity mixed with pleasure. So far Dabrowski has published five volumes of poetry in his native Poland, which have won him numerous awards. His work has appeared in translation in thirteen European languages. English translations of his poems by Antonia Lloyd-Jones have been published in several leading literary journals, including Agni, American Poetry Review, and Tin House. Black Square is his first collection to be published in English.

Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a translator of Polish literature. In 2008 she won the Found in Translation Award for her translation of The Last Supper, a novel by Pawel Huelle. Her other translations of fiction include works by Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz and Olga Tokarczuk. Her translations of poetry by Jacek Dehnel appeared in a recent anthology, Six Polish Poets, published by Arc Publications.

More information about the events with Tadeusz Dąbrowski in the UK (March) soon.

Black Square
By Tadeusz Dąbrowski
Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Published by Zephyr Press (October 2011)

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