CONTEMPORARY POLISH POETRY on Tour in the U. S.: Tomasz Różycki
Tomasz Różycki, and award-winning poet and translator Mira Rosenthal present To The Letter, the third collection of Różycki’s poetry to be translated by Rosenthal.
Monday, March 4th, 2024 | 2:10 PM -3:30 PM
University Union, Room 220 | 1 Grand Avenue | San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Tuesday, March 5th, 2024 | 6:00 PM
The Lab | The Redstone Building | 2948 16th St. | San Francisco, CA
Thursday, March 7th, 2024 | 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
143 7th Avenue | Brooklyn, NY
Friday, March 8th, 2024 | 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House | 58 West 10th Street | New York, NY 10011
“Różycki’s verse teems with sensuous, imaginatively rendered details: “that half-drunk cup of tea, the mirror / filled up with want, the strand of hair curling toward / the drain like the Silk Road through the Karakum / known as Tartary, the wall that defends the void.” — The New Yorker about “To The Letter” (Briefly Noted, February 2024 column).
Tomasz Różycki’s To the Letter follows Lieutenant Anielewicz on the hunt for any clues that might lead 21st century human beings out of a sense of despair. With authoritarianism rising across Eastern Europe, the Lieutenant longs for a secret hero. At first, he suspects some hidden mechanism afoot: fruit tutors him in the ways of color, he drifts out to sea to study the grammar of tides, or he gazes at the sun as it thrums away like a timepiece.
In one poem, he admits “this is the story of my confusion,” and in the next the Lieutenant is back on the trail. “This lunacy needs a full investigation,” he jibes. He wants to get to the bottom of it all, but he’s often bewitched by letters and the trickery of language. Diacritics on Polish words form a “flock of sooty flecks, clinging to letters” and Lieutenant Anielewicz studies the tails, accents, and strokes that twist this script.
While the Lieutenant can’t write a coherent code to solve life’s mysteries or to fill the absence of a country rent by war, his search for patterns throughout art, philosophy, and literature lead not to despair but to an affirmation of the importance of human love. Różycki collects moments of illumination – a cat dashing out of a window and “feral sun” streaking in, a body planting itself in the ground like rhubarb and flowering. He collects and collects, opens a crack, and clutches a shrapnel of epiphany.
Tomasz Różycki is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry and prose. He will be reading from his new collection in English translation, To the Letter. Over the last decade he has garnered almost every prize Poland has to offer as well as widespread critical acclaim, with work translated into numerous languages and frequent appearances at international festivals. He is the recipient of the 2023 Wisława Szymborska Prize and the 2023 Prix Grand Continent, among other awards. In the U.S., he has been featured at the Unterberg Poetry Center, the Princeton Poetry Festival, and the Brooklyn Book Festival. His volume Colonies (translated by Mira Rosenthal) won the Northern California Book Award and was a finalist for numerous other prizes, including the International Griffin Poetry Prize and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize.
Mira Rosenthal is the author of Territorial, a Pitt Poetry Series selection and finalist for the INDIES Book of the Year award, and The Local World, winner of the Wick Poetry Prize. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, and residencies at Hedgebrook and MacDowell, she is an associate professor of creative writing at Cal Poly. Her translations of Polish poetry include Krystyna Dąbrowska’s Tideline and Tomasz Różycki’s Colonies, which won the Northern California Book Award and was shortlisted for numerous other prizes, including the International Griffin Poetry Prize and the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize.