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by Zuzanna Ginczanka, translated from the Polish and with an introduction by Alissa Valles

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Zuzanna Ginczanka’s last poem, “Non omnis moriar..." (“Not all of me shall die”), written shortly before her execution by the Nazis in the last months of World War II, is one of the most famous and unsettling texts in modern East European literature: a fiercely ironic last will and testament that names the person who betrayed her to the occupying authorities as a Jew, it exposes the hypocrisy at the heart of Polish nationalist myths.

Ginczanka’s linguistic exuberance and invention—reminiscent now of Marina Tsvetaeva, now of Marianne Moore or Mina Loy—are as exhilarating as the passionate fusion of the physical world and the world of ideas she advocated in her work. Firebird brings together many of Ginczanka’s uncollected poems and presents On Centaurs, her sole published book, in its entirety.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Poets
ISBN: 9781681377308
Pages: 80
Publication Date:


The poems in Firebird sound startlingly contemporary…both sharp-sensed and sharp-tongued. Firebird, which contains no juvenilia, cannot be seen as presenting Ginczanka as an object of study…it leans into her anger.
—Lily Meyer, Poetry Foundation

The brief, cataclysmic life of Zuzanna Ginczanka would be enough to draw English-language readers to this compelling volume. But Ginczanka’s poems speak for themselves in Alissa Valles’s thrilling translations. Should there have been a longer life and more poems? Of course. ‘I leave no heirs,’ Ginczanka writes. Not so. Her ‘magnificent estate’ returns to life in Valles’s inspired versions.
—Clare Cavanagh

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