Ewa Lipska

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  • photo by Christoph Pobozy

A poet, born in Kraków in 1945. Lipska has won the Koscielski Prize (1973), the Polish PEN Club prize (1992), the Jurzykowski Foundation Prize (1993) and the Gdynia Literary Award (2011).

Ewa Lipska is one of the most important and one of the most solitary voices in contemporary Polish poetry. From her debut volume, published in 1967 to her latest works, we recognize her inimitable style and find recurring motifs. By the same token, Lipska's poetry is a work in progress. The thematic range of her poetry gradually expands, her way of creating images based on paradox, shattering threadbare collocations, and her use of disarming metaphors allows her to view the world and our relations with our fellow man differently every time, naming our eternal human emotions and anxieties in a revealing way.

Her relationship with language – her mistrust of the abuse she finds in public discourse, combined with a consciousness of its power as a precise tool for analyzing and subverting reality – unites Lipska and other poets of her generation, those of the New Wave (Ryszard Krynicki, Stanisław Barańczak, Adam Zagajewski, Julian Kornhauser). She is also like the New Wave in her rejection of the ideologization of culture and her sensitivity to the language of propaganda, the communist “Newspeak.” Some of her poems of the 1970s have an evident political slant, and the Przechowalnia ciemności [Darkness Deposit] collection (1985) appeared in an independent underground publication, as the critiques of the realities of Martial Law, though expressed with Lipska's characteristic sense of distance, did not pass the censorship of the time.

Lipska's work always walked its own, individual path. “Its topics are existential anxieties, nightmares, illnesses, and madness. Its tone is calm, matter-of-fact, sometimes ironic. Her style is marked by precision and strength,” wrote noted critic Jerzy Kwiatkowski after the release of Drugi zbiór wierszy [A Second Collection of Poems] (1970). The motif of illness, constant threat, surviving on the verge of life and death, all tied to her personal experience, resonate in Lipska's early poems with particular force. Lipska was and remains a poet of love, though she writes of it discreetly, from a distance, in a way that is utterly bereft of sentimentality.

Over the years, her poetry began to cover wider ground, insightfully diagnosing the contemporary world, the wilderness of mass culture, and the traps of civilization from the perspective of an individual's existential experience. Lipska's eleven volumes of poetry and poetic prose from the past two decades assemble to form an astonishingly sweeping panorama of the world at the turn of the millennia. At the heart still remains the same distanced, somewhat alienated, slightly ironic, yet sensitive observer. Experiencing a sense of passing and often returning to the past, though with the sensation that it is not a secure shelter, for Arcadia never existed, and it was never innocent.

In their concision and density of metaphor, Lipska's poems sometimes resemble poetic rebuses, always striking a powerful final chord, creating a private and fascinating microcosm. They are like pictures which allow you to perceive the artist's hand at the very first glance.

Bibliography

Poems:

  • Wiersze, Warszawa: Czytelnik, 1967.
  • Drugi zbiór wierszy, Warszawa: Czytelnik, 1970.
  • Trzeci zbiór wierszy, Warszawa: Czytelnik, 1972.
  • Czwarty zbiór wierszy, Warszawa: Czytelnik, 1974.
  • Piąty zbiór wierszy, Warszawa: Czytelnik, 1978.
  • Żywa śmierć, Kraków: WL, 1979.
  • Przechowalnia ciemności, Warszawa: Przedświt / Warszawska Oficyna Poetów i Malarzy, 1985.
  • Strefa ograniczonego postoju, Warszawa: Czytelnik, 1990.
  • Stypendyści czasu, Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, 1994.
  • Ludzie dla początkujących, Poznań: Wydawnictwo "a5", 1997.
  • Życie zastępcze, Kraków: WL, 1998.
  • Białe truskawki, Kraków: WL, 2000
  • 1999, Kraków: WL, 1999.
  • Sklepy zoologiczne, Kraków: WL, 2001.
  • Uwaga: stopień, Krków: WL, 2002.
  • Sekwens, Warszawa: Bertelsmann, 2003.
  • Ja, Kraków: WL, 2003.
  • Gdzie indziej, Kraków: WL, 2004.
  • Drzazga, Kraków: WL, 2006.
  • Pomarańcza Newtona, Kraków: WL, 2007.
  • Pogłos, Kraków: WL, 2010
  • Czytnik linii papilarnych, Kraków: WL, 2015

Poems selection:

  • Dom spokojnej młodości, Kraków: WL, 1979.
  • Poezje wybrane, Warszawa: LSW, 1981.
  • Nie o śmierć tutaj chodzi, lecz o biały kordonek, Kraków: WL, 1982.
  • Utwory wybrane, Kraków: WL, 1986.
  • Wakacje mizantropa. Utwory wybrane, Kraków: WL, 1993.
  • Wspólnicy zielonego wiatraczka. Lekcja literatury z Krzysztofem Lisowskim, Kraków: WL, 1996.
  • Godziny poza godzinami, Warszawa: PIW 1998.
  • Wiersze wybrane, Kraków: a5, 2015.

prose:

  • Sefer, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2009
  • Droga pani Schubert..., Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2012
  • Miłość, droga pani Schubert..., Kraków, a5, 2013

Translations:

Albanian:

  • Mesohu me vdekjen [Ucz się śmierci), trans. Mazllum Saneja, Prishtine: Sfinga, 2001
  • Une [Ja], trans. Mazllum Saneja, Prishtine: Rozafa, 2006

Belarusian:

  • Dzień usich żywych [Wiersze wybrane], trans. Andrzej Chadanowicz, Mińsk: Logwinaj, 2015.

Bosnian:

  • Tu [Tu], trans. Marina Trumić, Sarajewo: Connetum, 2010

Bulgarian:

  • Vakanciite na mizantropa [Wakacje mizantropa ], Sofija: Lit. Forum, 1994.
  • Portokały na Njuton [Poezje wybrane], trans. Wiera Dejanowa, Sofia: Stigmati 2011

Catalan:

  • Eixida d'emergència, Lleida: Pàges, 2004.

Czech:

  • Okamzik nepozornosti, trans. Libor Martinek, Praga: Volvox Globator, 2006

Danish:

  • En misantrops ferie [Wakacje mizantropa], Aarhus: Husets Forlag, 1990.

Dutch:

  • Mensen voor beginners [Ludzie dla początkujących], trans. Karol Lesman, Breda: De Geus, 2000
  • Splinter [Drzazga], trans. Ad van Rijsewijk, Breda: De Geus, 2007
  • Dr. Sefer [Sefer], trans. Ad van Rijsewijk, Baarn: Uitgeverij Marmer, 2010
  • Beste mevrouw Schubert [Droga pani Szubert…], trans. Adrjan van Rijsewijk, Gent:   Poezjecentrum, 2015

English:

  • Poet? criminal? madman? [poems by Ewa Lipska], London-Boston: Forest Books, 1991.
  • Pet shops and other poems, Todmorden: Arc, 2002.
  • The holy order of tourists [Zakon turystów, polsko-angielska edycja], Stockholm: Ars Interpres Publ., 2006.
  • The New Century [selection from: 1999, Sklepy zoologiczne, Ja, Gdzie indziej, Drzazga, Pomarańcza Newtona], trans. Robin Davidson, Ewa Elżbieta Nowakowska, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2009
  • Sefer, trans. Barbara Bogoczek, Tony Howard, Edmonton: Au Press, 2012

French:

  • Deux poétesses polonaises contemporaines: Ewa Lipska et Wisława Szymborska, trans. Isabelle Macor-Filarska, Mundolsheim: L'Ancrier, 1996.
  • L’homme pour débutants: choix de poèmes [Ludzie dla początkujących], trans. Isabelle Macor-Filarska i Grzegorz Splawinski, Beuvry: Maison de la poésie Nord-Pas-de-Calais, 2004
  • L'Orange de Newton [Pomarańcza Newtona], trans. Isabelle Macor-Filarska, Irena Gudaniec-Barbier, l'Arbre a paroles, 2012
  • L'amour, chère Madame Schubert… [Miłość, droga Pani Schubert…], trans. Isabelle Macor, Nantes: Éditions LansKine, 2015.

Germany:

  • Auf den Dächern der Mausoleen. Gedichte, Berlin: Oberbaum, 1983.
  • Achtung [wybrane wiersze], trans. Doreen Daume, Vienna: Literaturverl. Droschl, 2004.

Icelandic:

  • Neyðarútgangur [selected poems], trans. Áslaug Agnarsdóttir, Bragi Ólafsson, Magnús Sigurðsson, Olga Holownia, Óskar Árni Óskarsson, Rejkjavik: Dimma, 2016

Serbian:

  • Ja, Beograd: Čiroja Štampa, 2004.
  • Negde drugde [Gdzie indziej], Beograd: Prosveta, 2006.
  • Niutnowa pomarancza [Pomarańcza Newtona], trans. Biserka Rajcic, Beograd: KOB, 2008
  • Odjek [Pogłos], trans. Biserka Rajcic, Beograd: KOB, 2011

Spanish:

  • La astilla / La naranja de Newton [Drzazga, Pomarańcza Newtona], trans. Antonio Benitez, Anna Sobieska, Somonte-Cenero: Ediciones Trea, 2010
  • Salida de emergencia [selected poems], trans. Abel Murcia, Posdata Editores, 2012

Swedish:

  • Kära fru Schubert [Droga pani Szubert…], trans. Irena Grӧngerg, Lund: Ellerströms, 2015