Posts Tagged ‘Tomas Tranströmer’

Berkeley poet Chana Bloch: “There’s no point in wanting to be a different kind of a writer than you are.”

Saturday, December 19th, 2015
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Chana Bloch-Peg SkorpinskiWe’ve written about Berkeley poet Chana Bloch before (here), but it’s been a few years since I spoke with her at the university, so I was happy to get an update at the “Talking Writing” website. Poet and translator Bloch, who has just released a “new and selected” Swimming in the Rain this year, was a longtime professor at Oakland’s Mills College. This first question (or rather, a comment, really) caught my eye – I’m constantly chastising myself because I’m not the fastest, most prolific, most profound writer in the English-speaking world. Apparently I’m not alone. Then I was caught by her list of favored poets.

Excerpt from her Q&A with Carol Dorf:

TW: I’m a slow writer.

CB: Slow is not necessarily bad. There’s no point in wanting to be a different kind of a writer than you are, though I must admit I’ve envied poets who are quicker, more prolific. I myself rarely stay with my early drafts. I tend to go over and over a poem—revising, distilling, trying to get at the essence.

TW: Most of your poems are brief lyrics. How do your longer sequence poems function compared with those that represent a single moment?

CB: I tend to write very short poems. Most of them fit on one page. Sometimes, a group of those poems asks to be stitched together. For example, I wrote a number of poems about my experience of ovarian cancer in 1986 that were then published in various journals. At some point, I realized that, by bringing them together in a sequence I called “In the Land of the Body” (from The Past Keeps Changing, Sheep Meadow Press, 1992), I could offer differing perspectives on the experience: that of my then-husband, our children, the radiologist, the surgeon.

TW: Which poets have been especially important to you?

swimmingInTheRainCB: George Herbert, Emily Dickinson, Yehuda Amichai, Tomas Tranströmer, Elizabeth Bishop, Zbigniew Herbert, Wisława Szymborska, Charles Simic, Gerard Manley Hopkins—not necessarily in that order.

George Herbert was an early influence. In grad school, I fell in love with his work. We made a very odd couple. I was a Jewish girl from the Bronx, and he was a seventeenth-century Anglican minister. But his poetry was about the inner life, and that drew me. There was a human depth in his poems that I found very appealing. He wrote about the self with an unsparing candor—about his irresolution, his inner contradictions. And I loved the music in his poetry.

I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation about his work, and then a book—Spelling the Word: George Herbert and the Bible (University of California Press, 1985)—about how he transforms the biblical sources in his poetry. Seeing him take a verse from the Bible and combine it with something from his life was like watching a mind in the very process of creation.

Read the whole thing here.

Remembering Tomas Tranströmer: in the end, only music…

Sunday, March 29th, 2015
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transtromer2

Transcendental moments (Photo: Alexander Deriev/Ars Interpres Publications)

I was out of town yesterday, so I’m late posting my news is late, but I did want to note the passing of Tomas Tranströmer, the Nobel-winning Swedish poet (we’ve written about him here and here).  I couldn’t put it better than this reader who commented on Facebook: “It goes without saying that I liked knowing that this man was somewhere on this planet, pen in hand.”

The New York Times obituary praised the “his shrewd metaphors couched in deceptively spare language, crystalline descriptions of natural beauty and explorations of the mysteries of identity and creativity.” He died on Thursday, March 26, at 83 years old.

With a pared-down style and brusque, forthright diction, Mr. Tranströmer (pronounced TRAWN-stroh-mur) wrote in accessible language, though often in the service of ideas that were diaphanous and not easy to parse; he could be precisely observant one moment and veer toward surrealism the next.

“The typical Tranströmer poem is an exercise in sophisticated simplicity, in which relatively spare language acquires remarkable depth, and every word seems measured to the millimeter,” the poet David Orr wrote in an essay in The New York Times in 2011. …

His poems often had transcendental moments that led some critics to consider him a religious poet or a mystic. In “Further In,” from the 1973 volume “Paths,” the quotidian and the unfathomable collide, in both the body of the poet and in the world.

He was trained as a psychologist, worked in state institutions with juvenile offenders, parole violators and the disabled. And he was also an accomplished pianist. After the 1990 stroke that left him unable to speak and unable to use his right and arm at the relatively young age of 59, he adapted to life as a lefty. Again from the New York Times:

Mr. Transtromer’s poetry production slowed after his stroke, but he took refuge in music, playing the piano with just his left hand. As a testament to his prominence in Sweden, several composers there wrote pieces for the left hand specifically for him.

He was also an amateur entomologist. The Swedish National Museum presented an exhibition of his childhood insect collection, and a Swedish scientist who discovered a new species of beetle named it for him.

I dropped a line to my Stockholm correspondent Alexander Deriev to ask if he had any memories to share, and he wrote this: “Alas, I don’t have many personal memoirs of Tomas. I meet him only a few times and communicated mostly through his wife Monica Tranströmer. As you know after suffering a stroke in 1990 he was almost unable to speak (only through Monica). At that Fourth Ars Interpres poetry festival that I arranged in 2010 (a year before he was awarded Nobel Prize), Tomas played Joseph Haydn‘s ‘Allegro ur Sonat F dur’ and Reinhold Glière‘s ‘Impromptu for the left hand op 99’ together with Swedish-Italian pianist Lucia Negro. And two actors in his presence recited his poems in Swedish and English.” At any rate, Alexander contributed this photograph (above right) of the Swedish poet at the festival in 2010, the year before he won the Nobel. The Swedes were reluctant to name one of their own, anticipating charges of favoritism; he waited years for the award, although he is hugely popular in Sweden.

Below, two short poems, relatively early in his career: one on death and the other on music. And at the bottom, a youtube video Alexander shared with me. In the end, the poet spoke through music, unmediated by words.

After a Death

Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside.  It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.

One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.

It is still beautiful to feel the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.

– Translated by Robert Bly, from Bells and Tracks, 1966

Allegro

After a black day, I play Haydn,
and feel a little warmth in my hands.

The keys are ready.  Kind hammers fall.
The sound is spirited, green, and full of silence.

The sound says that freedom exists
and someone pays no tax to Caesar.

I shove my hands in my haydnpockets
and act like a man who is calm about it all.

I raise my haydnflag.  The signal is:
“We do not surrender.  But want peace.”

The music is a house of glass standing on a slope;
rocks are flying, rocks are rolling.

The rocks roll straight through the house
but every pane of glass is still whole.

– Translated by Robert Bly, from The Half-Finished Heaven, 1962

Postscript on 3/30: No sooner posted than Artur Sebastian Rosman alerted me to this video below, produced by another Book Haven friend, Neil Astley of Bloodaxe Books in Northumberland.

We’re surprised, he’s scared: Mo Yan wins this year’s Nobel

Thursday, October 11th, 2012
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He doesn't look scared, anyway.

By now, everyone knows that China’s Mo Yan is the surprise winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.  “Surprise,” because he made not even a ripple on Ladbroke’s long betting list, or in any conversations I’ve heard.   Not so much a surprise, however, given that the Swedes were bound to atone for giving last year’s award to their worthy countryman Tomas Tranströmer, by giving it this year to an African or Asian, or anyone far, far away from Stockholm.  But wasn’t the poet Bei Dao a perennial nominee?  The Nobel judges seem disinclined to give to poets two years in a row as well.  At any rate, Mo Yan was “overjoyed and scared” at the news.

Most of us are strangers to his writing, I suspect.  So  here is Ted Gioia‘s review of the author’s Republic of Wine a few years back.

And for his stories, here’s an excerpt from Frogs:

I have to admit that, though I did not make it public, I was personally opposed to my Aunty’s marriage plans. My father, my brothers and their wives shared my feelings. It simply wasn’t a good match in our view. Ever since we were small we’d looked forward to seeing Aunty find a husband. Her relationship with Wang Xiaoti had brought immense glory to the family, only to end ingloriously. Yang Lin was next, and while not nearly the ideal match that Wang would have provided, he was, after all, an official, which made him a passable candidate for marriage. Hell, she could have married Qin He, who was obsessed with her, and be better off than with Hao Dashou . . . we were by then assuming she’d wind up an old maid, and had made appropriate plans. We’d even discussed who would be her caregiver when she reached old age. But then, with no prior indication, she’d married Hao Dashou. Little Lion and I were living in Beijing then, and when we heard the news, we could hardly believe our ears. Once the preposterous reality set in, we were overcome by sadness.

Read the rest at Granta here.

Versions, adaptations, translations, plagiarism, and hogwash – more on Tranströmer

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
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The New York Review of Books is grumpy. Or at least a tad cynical.  Tim Parks comments on the Swedes picked a Swede, calling the selection of Tomas Tranströmer for the prestigious lit prize “a healthy decision in every way. Above all for the Nobel jury.”  The lifetime judges are “condemned for life to making, year in year out a burdensome and near impossible decision to which the world increasingly and inexplicably ascribes a crazy importance.”  Picking someone they don’t have to read in translation is an inevitable temptation, the bottle of ibuprofen always on one’s desk.

Conclusion?

What a relief then from time to time to say, the hell with it and give it to a Swede, in this case the octogenarian acknowledged as his nation’s finest living poet and a man whose whole oeuvre, as Peter Englund charmingly remarks, could fit into a single slim paperback. A winner, in short, whom the whole jury can read in the original pure Swedish in just a few hours. Perhaps they needed a sabbatical. Not to mention the detail, not irrelevant in these times of crisis, that the $1.5-million-dollar prize will stay in Sweden.

But most healthy of all, a decision like this, which we all understand would never have been taken by say, an American jury, or a Nigerian jury, or perhaps above all a Norwegian jury, reminds us of the essential silliness of the prize and our own foolishness at taking it seriously. …

Meanwhile, the Times Literary Supplement blog considers calls the choice a brave one:  “The Nobel Academy already stood charged of Eurocentrism, making Tranströmer something of a defiant choice.”

In 1998, the TLS called  Tranströmer’s poetry “the work of a major, even a great, modern poet,” raving about the “icy Nordic romanticism of bleak forests, remote villages, and shorelines” where “half-smothered, the gods of summer / fumble in sea-mist.”

Controversy erupted in 2007 when Alan Brownjohn considered Robin Robertson‘s “versions” of the Swedish poet, and all hell broke lose.  The controversy is here.  Versions, adaptations, translations – what’s the difference?

Not a problem for this year’s Nobel judges in Stockholm:

Of course, the Swedish Nobel committee did not need to translate Tranströmer to consider him for this year’s laureateship. They chose him because “through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”

 

Tomas Tranströmer: The dark horse who is no dark horse

Friday, October 7th, 2011
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Shrinking

So the Nobel Literature sweepstakes had a happy ending this year: By now, everyone knows that Tomas Tranströmer at last took home the prize.  It’s enormously gratifying that someone of this heft and stature has bagged the prize, but a lot of my friends and colleagues are saying:  “Who?”

It is, as the Associated Press noted, not really a surprise:

The Nobel Prize in literature was awarded Thursday to a psychologist who used his spare time to craft sparsely written poems about the mysteries of everyday life — commuting to work, watching the sun rise or waiting for nightfall.

Tomas Tranströmer, Sweden’s most famous poet, had been a favorite for the prize for so many years that even his countrymen had started to doubt whether he would ever win.

The Nobel judges are understandably reluctant to reward one of their own, a fellow Swede.

I’m not terrifically familiar with his oeuvre, though I like what I’ve I read so far.  Since I’m currently on the road, I took his The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems with me – one of those books I bought but never really had a chance to do much more than thumb through.

“His poems have a kind of stark, piercing inwardness that’s very striking,” said Robert Hass, who edited Transtromer’s “Selected Poems.”

“There are lots of poems written about driving back and forth to work, poems about dawn, poems about dusk. He gets those moments in life, those ordinary periods of change.”

So few of the articles have quoted any of his poetry.  So how about this, the last stanza of “Morning Birds”:

Fantastic to feel how my poem grows
while I myself shrink.
It grows, it takes my place.
It pushes me aside.
It throws me out of the nest.
The poem is ready.

 

 

Nobel prizewinner … Bob Dylan? What on earth is going on?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
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In Spain, 2010 (Photo: Vitoria Gasteiz)

Can you believe that Bob Dylan, who had fallen off the charts a few days ago, has now risen to #1 for this year’s Nobel Literature Prize?

He’s been given 5:1 odds, putting him ahead of Syrian poet Adonis, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, and the Hungarian writer Peter Nadas.

What is going on?  “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind…”

The eminently worthy Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer has fallen to #6.  Down Under poet Les Murray has climbed to #8.  Cormac McCarthy, last summer’s #1 heartthrob, has dropped to #12.  You can check out some of the other punters at Ladbrokes here.

Dylan has regularly figured at the bottom of the lists for years – like Communist Party candidate Gus Hall used to in the presidential elections.  But for no reason anyone knows, the songwriter shot to the top of the list overnight on Tuesday.  According to a Washington Post blog:

…overnight on Tuesday, Dylan’s odds jumped from 100/1 to 10/1. Wednesday, the site had his odds for winning at 5/1, beating out all other contenders. Ladbrookes reported that 80 percent of all bets in a 12-hour period went to Dylan.

Earlier this summer, the singer was nominated for the $50,000 Neustadt international prize for literature, often considered a precursor to the Nobel, losing to Indian-Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry. He won a “special citation” Pulitzer in 2008.  Is he headed for better things?

Ladbrokes hopes not.  It said it would have “a significant five-figure payout” on its hands if Dylan wins the Nobel on Thursday, according to the Guardian:

“We’ve seen enough activity from the right people to suggest Dylan now has a huge chance this year. If he doesn’t make the shortlist at least there will be some seriously burnt fingers,” said spokesman Alex Donohue. “As Dylan said, money doesn’t talk, it swears. If he does the business there might be a few expletives from us as well.”

The Washington Post cited the lyrics of another song:

… could be the bettors are taking gambling advice from Dylan’s own songs: “Make your money while you can, before you have to stop, / For when you pull that dead man’s hand, your gamblin’ days are up.”

Postscript:  The new #2  is Algerian novelist and filmmaker Assia Djebar.  Ever hear of her?  Someone is fooling with us …

And Vaclev Havel made it to #38 today, on his 75th birthday.

“As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it.” – V.H.

Let the Nobel Follies begin!

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
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Not obscure enough for the prize

Welcome to this year’s Nobel Literature Prize.  Pretty much like last year’s Nobel Literature Prize.

It’s hard to beat the Literary Saloon to the draw:  They led the guessing with a July 1 column, “Nobel Prize speculation (already?!?).”  The site admitted: “Not surprisingly, most of the odds resemble the closing odds for the 2010 prize, but there are big differences, so punters are advised to compare odds before placing their bets.”  Cormac McCarthy (9/2) was just ahead of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (11/2) at Ladbrokes.  Huffington Post picked up the cry here.

We can recycle last year’s reasons why McCarthy won’t get the prize.  Blogger John Matthew Fox thinks he won’t get it because he’s too popular: “The trend over the last few years from the academy is to choose authors that leave a great deal of the world scratching their head and saying “who?” Le Clézio? Please.”

Number Two

Apparently, The Guardian agrees: It has declared Adonis the frontrunner – wasn’t he the frontrunner for awhile last year?

Ladbrokes has made the 81-year-old – who has been described as “the most important Arab poet of our time” – its 4/1 favorite. “Adonis has been a permanent fixture on the shortlist in the past and the odds suggest this could be his year,” said spokesman Alex Donohue.

He’s just ahead of Tomas Tranströmer. “After hitting the woodwork last year we think Tranströmer has a superb chance of atoning for defeat,” said Donohue.  That would certainly be nice. But the Swedish judges seem reluctant to award one of their own.

Tomas Venclova anyone?  He hasn’t surfaced on Ladbrokes long list yet.

Yesterday’s post at the Literary Saloon has all the sites to check as the countdown begins here.  Ladbrokes’ betting is here.

 

 

12 more hours to the Nobels…Cormac McCarthy now #1

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
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Man of the hour ... perhaps only that

Ladbrokes’ site is up again, and the bets seem to be reshuffling in an inexpicable fashion.  Take a look for yourself.  America’s Cormac McCarthy has edged to the top spot for this year’s Nobel in literature, pushing Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o to #2.  Haruki Marukami and Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer remain stable in the #3 and #4 slots.

But Poland’s Adam Zagajewski has now dropped way down to #20, and some of the rest is pure craziness:  Néstor Amarilla (we’ve rather taken a shine to him) is suddenly at the bottom of the list, with the notation “closed.”  What does that mean, if anyone put any money on him at all? Which someone must have done, to give him any ranking at all a few days ago…

In an alternative universe, Unibets, puts the Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong’o at the top, with Néstor Amarilla as #2.  Huh?  As Literary Saloon points out in its excellent analysis, why wouldn’t someone bet for the Argentinian at Ladbroke’s, where the payout would be higher?  (Maybe because it’s “closed.”) 

Péter Nádas has been added to the list.  Joyce Carol Oates is #9.  Other names have moved up and down the list.  Check it out.  Only a few more hours to go.

Néstor Amarilla, the Invisible Man, and Joseph Brodsky’s “quiet Swedish joke”

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010
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It’s Nobel week, and the discussion of potential winners is becoming feverish.  At the Stanford News Service, we quietly prepare in case someone from the home team gets the honor.  Each day, we take turns waking up at 2 a.m.

If it’s one of our own, we haul ourselves out of bed, call the others, and ambush the unsuspecting winner in the pre-dawn haze, commandeering his cell phone for the duration.  We begin preparing press conferences, writing a profile, arranging interviews, acting as chauffeur and bodyguard — and, of course, feeding food to the new Nobel laureate, his or her family, the media, and ourselves. (You can read an abbreviated description of the chaos in “Dad, some guy is calling from Sweden,”  recalled by Stanford physicist Robert Laughlin‘s longsuffering wife Anita in Reindeer with King Gustaf: What to Expect When Your Spouse Wins the Nobel Prize.)

I will be waking up for the literature and the peace prizes. But I have wondered, during this sleep-deprived week, whether perhaps they should combine the two:  Ted Gioia alerted me to the possibilities, with the  Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

"Kill me, kill me"

Usually, however, I get to roll over and go back to sleep.  Stanford has yet to bag a Nobel in the humanities.  (Berkeley is ahead with 1 — Czesław Miłosz.)  Unless Tobias Wolff or Eavan Boland get lucky, I will only be suffering minorly from sleep deprivation.

Since Ladbrokes’ announcement on Wednesday, it’s interesting that the discussion in the blogosphere so far has obsessed on the surprising emergence of 79-year-old Tomas Tranströmer as a frontrunner, and then gnashed over the usual American lineup of Oates, Updyke, Pynchon, & co. — see the New Yorker blog piece here.

Everyone seems to be overlooking the equally unexpected development at Ladbrokes: the appearance of Adam Zagajewski in the #2 spot — which we discussed here.

Perhaps the world has grown tired of Polish winners — let’s see, there’s Henryk Sienkiewicz in 1905 (Susan Sontag called him “the worst writer in the history of the world” — but I haven’t read him), adyslaw Reymont in 1924, then Czesław Miłosz in 1980, then Wisława Szymborska in 1996 (the last time, incidentally, a poet was awarded — the Nobel “poetry drought,” too, has been making news).  Not bad for a small nation of 40 million Polish-speakers.

My apologies, Señor Amarilla

The Literary Saloon, however, notes in its interesting discussion here:

“Zagajewski’s leap in popularity is obviously what jumps out here — but another eastern European-linked author (and yet another Polish poet)? Still, this is one of the biggest shifts in odds from one year to the next, and worth noting.”

Meanwhile, Tranströmer … I’m not familiar with his oeuvre, but I recall Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky dedicated a poem or two to him.  I can’t find it in my Collected.  Help me out anyone?  Elena?  Lora?

The effort to find it sent me back through my own Joseph Brodsky: Conversations, where I retrieved this nugget from 1975, during a Q&A after a reading in Iowa:

An acquaintance of mine, a Swedish poet, Tomas Tranströmer, who has been, in my view, real botched up by Robert Bly (Laughter), once said that your attitude toward a translator sort of goes through three stages.  First you trust him, and he kills you.  The second time you don’t trust him and he kills you just the same.  The third kind of attitude involves certain masochistic traits in you.  (Laughter) You say ‘kill me, kill me, kill me …’ And he kills you. (Laughter) It’s not my joke… it’s a quiet Swedish joke.” (Laughter)

Mea culpa:  In my earlier post, I had identified Néstor Amarilla as “she.”  This photo contradicts me.  Given the recent choices of Bjørg-the-Cyborg, I still wonder if they’ll award the darkest of dark horses.  Literary Saloon says “there is no way this very young author can take the prize” — calling him “ridiculously young.”  Probably right.  The site suggests Bella Akhmadulina. as a dark horse alternative.

A Swedish award for a Swede? Ladbrokes has spoken…

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
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79-year-old perennial Nordic bridesmaid

Tomas Tranströmer is the odds-on favorite to win this year’s Nobel Prize for literature. Ladbrokes has spoken, putting his chances at 5 to 1.  However, Bill Coyle at the Contemporary Poetry Review states the problem this way:

Every year, as the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Literature approaches, partisans of the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer hold a collective breath, hoping against hope. A win for their man is unlikely for a number of reasons. One is the residual fallout from 1974 when the Swedish Academy gave the prize to two of its own members, Harry Martinson and Eyvind Johnson. Both were fine writers, but the appearance of nepotism was impossible to avoid. No Swede—no Scandinavian—has won the prize since.

Reuters observes that “Poetry dominates the bookmakers’ list” and that “American writers set to be overlooked again” — unless, of course, you consider perennial American Nobel bridesmaid Joyce Carol Oates, ranked #12, or perennial groomsman Philip Roth, at #15.  Thomas Pynchon is #16.  Note that none of the Americans are poets.  At least not primarily.

Does Bjørg-the-Cyborg pick the winners?

“Tomas Transtromer must surely be in pole position,” said David Williams of Ladbrokes. “He’s long been mentioned for the prize and we feel his work finally deserves this recognition.”  Probably an indication he won’t get it.  (You can read a few of his poems at The Owls website here.)

There’s an obscure Paraguayan playright — Nestor Amarilla — rumored to be shortlisted.  No one’s ever heard of her, which would be in keeping with recent prizewinners.  Do I sense another wicked Ted Gioia parody coming?  Read his “Shocking Revelation: Nobel Lit Prize Has Been Picked by a Robot since 1994!”  (His slightly more sober “Nobel Prize in Literature from an Alternative Universe” here.

The man in the #2 favorite spot leaves me with divided feelings — it would be nice to see Polish poet Adam Zagajewski bag the prize — but the award has a way of turning lives upside down. (Read An Invisible Rope for some firsthand stories about what it did to Czesław Miłosz in 1980.)  I remember Zagajewski kindly serving as my sherpa in literary Kraków — and, well, I’m selfish.  Which is to say, I would miss his friendship.

I reviewed his book for the San Francisco Chronicle (and no, I didn’t write the headline) — I’m chuffed that it inspired Kay Ryan to write to the newspaper:  “It was a thrill to read Cynthia Haven’s brilliant review the poet Adam Zagajewski’s book of essays, A Defense of Ardor, in this past Sunday’s Book Review. Almost never do I come across something about poetry that has the sting and bite of poetry in it.  Zagajewski comes straight through Haven’s elegant and deeply informed prose.  More of these brainy reviews please; more Cynthia Haven, please.”  I hope they published it.  I honestly can’t recall.  Oscar Villalon sent it to me.  God knows one gets enough slaps and punches.

I also profiled Adam for the Poetry Foundation magazine here — an article that still gets a lot of hits.

I remember meeting Adam for tea in Krakow’s main square, and being thrilled by the squadrons of pigeons.  Adam assured me loftily that they were very stupid creatures.  And, as a newcomer to his town, he showed me the Jagiellonian University,  as the light was fading…

"Only others save us..."

When I asked him about the future of poetry and poetry-lovers in the world of tweets and sound bites he said this (which didn’t make it into the final cut of the Poetry Foundation article):  “We’ll be living in small ghettos, far from where celebrities dwell, and yet in every generation there will be a new delivery of minds that will love long and slow thoughts and books and poetry and music, so that these rather pleasant ghettos will never perish — and one day may even stir more excitement than we’re used to now.”

I keep this on my desk:

Only others save us,
even though solitude tastes like
opium. The others are not hell,
if you see them early, with their
foreheads pure, cleansed by dreams.

— Adam Zagajewski, “In the Beauty Created by Others”