Building the Barricade by Anna Świrszczyńska
“Anna Świrszczyńska’s elemental, extractive accountings of the Warsaw Uprising present a history of pain and of personhood so irremediable and unembellished that neither can be stripped from even the dead. Building the Barricade, harrowing and demanding, here takes its place in English among the twentieth century’s master works of war-witness.”
“‘War made me another person,’ said Anna Świrszczyńska. Building the Barricade is the outcome of that change in that it took thirty years for these experiences to find their way into language. But the poem is also, undoubtedly, an agent of change, for us well as her. Stanza by stanza we see the speaker transformed, stripped of anything but the terrible truths she is recording.”
— Eavan Boland
Anna Świrszczyńska was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1909. She attended Warsaw University where she studied medieval and baroque Polish literature. She began publishing poems in the 1930s. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, Świrszczyńska joined the Polish Resistance and was a military nurse during the Warsaw Uprising. Anna Świrszczyńska died in Krakow of cancer in 1984.
Piotr Florczyk is the author of East & West, a volume of poems, Barefoot, a chapbook of poems, as well as Los Angeles Sketchbook, a collection of brief essays and photographs. He has also translated several books of Polish poetry. After earning his MFA from San Diego State University in 2006, he taught at numerous colleges and universities, and now studies in the PhD in Literature and Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern California. Please visit his website.
Building the Barricade is long listed for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.
Building the Barricade
By Anna Świrszczyńska
Translated by Piotr Florczyk
With an introduction by Eavan Boland
Published by Tavern Books
As is tradition, along with the inauguration of the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the Book Institute's catalogue "Polish Books for Children & Young Adults" premieres, presenting excellent Polish books for young audiences that were published last year.