Tomasz Różycki

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  • photo by Krzysztof Dubiel / Instytut Książki

Born in 1970 in Opole, Tomasz Różycki is the author of poems and translations from Arthur Rimbaud, Victor Segalen, and Stéphane Mallarmé (among others). He has received numerous awards, including the 2004 Kościelski Prize for his long poem Dwanaście stacji (Twelve Stations), the 2006 Joseph Brodsky Prize from the Polish literary journal Zeszyty Literackie, and the 3 Quarks Daily Prize in Arts & Literature in 2010; he has also had several nominations for Poland’s prestigious NIKE Literary Award. His poems have been translated into a number of languages.

Even though Tomasz Różycki belongs to the 1970s’ generation, his oeuvre is only rarely associated with the new Polish poetry. An entire network of influences and references discernible in Różycki’s poetry gives him the title of a rightful heir to the Modernist legacy; moreover, he seems to share his poetic sensibility with his predecessors rather than contemporaries. The focus of his poems is space, conceived both literally and metaphorically. The first poetry collection, entitled Vaterland, can be discussed as the poetic variation of "little homeland" literature, very popular in Poland in the 1990s. Historic events that have shaped the sense of identity of Lower Silesians – expulsions, displacements, and the resulting family traumas – are always viewed through a transcendental lens. In fact, dreams, hallucinations and fantasies about the other side of reality are as integral to the poems as the author’s experience of the tangible, concrete geographical space. The award-winning Dwanaście stacji (Twelve Stations) is a perfect example of the masterly combination of one of Różycki’s favourite motifs, a time-thickening journey, with the Polish literary tradition and aesthetic refinement (grotesque, irony, an intricate web of allusions, explicit and veiled quotes). The poem recounts the epic-like quest of the speaker, called Wnuk (Grandson), weighed down by the burden of history, memory, and nostalgia. Wnuk tries to memorialize the vanishing past even though he is well aware of the hopelessness of the task, which results in satire and grotesque.

Travelling provides the structural axis also for other poetry collections by the author, such as Kolonie (Colonies) and Księga obrotów (The Book of Rotations). The former book evokes the exotic aura of overseas voyages to faraway lands. Some of the poems come together to form a poetic account of a child's dreams, fears and fantasies; other relate the story of the post-war expulsion of German nationals east of the Oder river, which makes Eastern Europe look like a peculiar “heart of darkness” haunted by the ghosts of the dead. Księga obrotów, in turn, recounts the speaker’s tour of America. The poet resumes the topic introduced in his Świat i Antyświat (World and Antiworld) seven years earlier: the speaker increasingly feels that the world is unreal and all matter vaporizes; moreover, he observes his own gradual dematerialization.

The unique atmosphere of the world divided into the dreamlike and the material is not the only recognizable feature of Różycki’s poetry. There is a certain emotional quality to the speaker of his poems, pervaded as they are with melancholy, nostalgia, and a truly lyrical longing for the world to be transformed. The speaker yearns to return to places that would make him ecstatic, where he could feel one again. He is noticeably searching for words capable of conveying the truth, allowing to experience the world directly – in short, a language different from the one that is available to him.

Bibliography

  • Vaterland, Łódź: Stowarzyszenie Literackie im. K. K. Baczyńskiego, 1997
  • Anima, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Zielona Sowa,1999
  • Chata umaita, Warszawa: Lampa i Iskra Boża, 2001
  • Świat i Antyświat, Warszawa: Lampa i Iskra Boża, 2003
  • Dwanaście stacji, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Znak, 2004
  • Wiersze, Warszawa: Lampa i Iskra Boża, 2004
  • Kolonie, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Znak, 2006
  • Księga obrotów, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Znak, 2010
  • Bestiarium, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Znak, 2012
  • Tomi. Notatki z miejsca postoju, Warszawa: Fundacja Zeszytów Literackich, 2013
  • Litery, Kraków: a5, 2016

Tłumaczenia:

English:

  • The Forgotten Keys: Selected Poetry of Tomasz Rozycki, trans. Mira Rosenthal, Brookline, MA: Zephyr Press, 2007.
  • Colonies (Kolonie), trans. Mira Rosenthal, Brookline, MA: Zephyr Press, 2013.
  • Twelve Stations (Dwanaście stacji), trans. Bill Johnston, Brookline, MA: Zephyr Press, 2013.

French:

  • Les Colonies [Kolonie], trans. Jacques Burko, Paryż: L'improviste, 2006

German:

  • Bestiarium, trans. Marlena Breuer, Berlin: Edition fotoTapeta, 2016

Italian:

  • Antimondo, trans. Leonardo Masi, Alessandro Ajres, Florencja: Edizioni dela Meridiana, 2009

Serbian:

  • Anima, a postoji [Wiersze wybrane], trans. Biserka Rajcic, Belgrad: KOW, 2013