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Selected Poems

by Miron Białoszewski, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Alissa Valles

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Postwar Poland produced some of the greatest poets of the twentieth century: Tadeusz Różewicz, Zbigniew Herbert, and the two Nobel Prize-winners, Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska. The poetry of Miron Białoszewski, author of the spellbinding A Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising, played a crucial part in this extraordinary poetic efflorescence, as those esteemed contemporaries were the first to recognize, and if he is less well-known abroad than they are it may be because his playful, gnomic, defiantly original poems have been deemed so difficult to translate.

Here, however, two of the finest American translators of Polish, Clare Cavanagh and Alissa Valles, have teamed up to present the first full-length collection of Białowszewski's work in English, one that reflects the range of his singular achievement, from his poetry, to his short prose pieces, to the playlets that he himself produced and performed for private audiences in his tiny Warsaw apartment. The book draws on the entirety of Białoszewski's output, from his pathbreaking first book, The Revolution of Things, through such later volumes as—and their names alone tell us something about the character of this poet's worldA Calculus of Whims, Erroneous Emotions, Wasted, Get Lost, and Hums, Lumps, Threads.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Poets
ISBN: 9781681370385
Pages: 160
Publication Date:


Poems of Miron Białoszewski is the book I hope to one day hold in my hands. A great post-war Polish poet, Białoszewski wrote work radically different from that of his contemporaries—Miłosz, Świr, Kamieńska, Herbert, and Szymborska—but his poetry was just as powerful and important to the development of the contemporary European lyric. . . . When I mentioned [him] to Tomaž Šalamun in a recent conversation, Tomaž's face lit up: 'Białoszewski, when he is translated and available in English, will cause an explosion in American poetry!' One hopes so.
—Ilya Kaminsky, poetry editor, Words Without Borders

This most 'private' author of postwar Polish literature disregards discourses of history so deeply embedded in the Polish literary tradition; rather he focuses on the mundane aspects of the everyday life, usually from an autobiographical perspective and using an overtly colloquial language. Although Białoszewski's works have stirred many discussions, most of these have focused on his treatment of genres and language.—Joanna Nizynska, professor of Polish, Harvard University

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