California’s greatest poet wrote in Polish – from Berkeley!


It’s been a spectacular few days for Czesław Miłosz: A California Life. Over the weekend, an opinion piece about the poet and my book, written by Joe Mathews, was featured on page 9 of The San Jose Mercury News here. Then The San Francisco Chronicle here. The East Bay Times here, Zócalo Public Square here, and southern California’s Ventura County Star here. It also went out on Yahoo News here, and that means it went everywhere. We’ll add any more links that come along. [Feb. 8 postscript: Here’s another one! The Bakersfield Californian here. And finally, a Feb. 12 postscript: we were featured today on the estimable 3QuarksDaily website here.)

His essay summarizes the book this way: “His experiences here, she writes, ‘transfigured him from a poet writing from one corner of the world to a poet who could speak for all if it, from a poet focused on history to a poet concerned with modernity and who always had his eyes fixed on forever.'”

Thanks to Elizabeth Conquest for the heads-up (we’ve written about her here and here). The whole thing might have passed us by, since proof pages and revisions are dominating the week.

Here’s the downside: Czesław Miłosz: A California Life sold out at Amazon. However, you can order directly from Heyday in Berkeley on website here: Or directly from Bookshop here.

Please do. I want you to enjoy the marvels of this remarkable poet, and let his astonishing life absorb you as it has me for almost a quarter century, since I first interviewed him on Grizzly Peak in 2000 – his last interview in America before he returned to Poland forever.

Amazon is out of books! Order from Heyday’s website here or Bookshop here until Amazon gets its act together.

A small correction: The article refers to Miłosz’s sisters. He had none. The two elderly spinsters (“Samogitian parakeets”) are women he knew in Vilnius. He describes them in section 12 of “City Without a Name”here.

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