Wojciech Bonowicz

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  • photo by Krzysztof Dubiel

Bonowicz was born in Oświęcim in 1967 and is a poet, prose writer and literary critic. He graduated from the Polish faculty at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. He has won the K.K. Baczyński poetry competition and the Nowy Nurt [“New Current”] prose competition (both in 1995), among other prizes. He has published three collections of poetry and a best-selling biography of Father Józef Tischner. He works at the Znak publishing house and lives in Kraków.

Bonowicz’s poetry undoubtedly springs from the Catholic tradition, although it is patently at odds with our current notions of “Catholic”, or even more broadly, “religious” poetry. A leitmotif that is easy to spot in this poetry is unhappiness, and the suffering related to it (or not). It takes great insight and precise observation to compare, for example, the permanent pain of an old widower with the ephemeral pain of the worm he spears on his fishing hook. Situations are presented here without commentary, and the reader has to work out for himself why the poet is telling him one or another story – as a result Bonowicz’s poems may be gloomy or funny, but they are never moralising or preaching. He specialises in short, elliptical forms, often putting the entire meaning of the poem in the hiatus between text and title. His simplicity of expression is an illusion – it serves to set serious, disturbing riddles, or rather as a reminder that we are set such riddles by life itself.

Tischner is a pioneering work, presenting the first half-century of the biography of the most popular philosopher in Poland today. Divided into five-year sections with the same amount of space devoted to each one, it shows what a homogeneous and consistent personality Tischner was.

Bonowicz’s prize-winning stories are tales of childhood, depicting the parallel birth of moral, aesthetic, religious and sexual feelings. This is exquisitely economical prose that superbly reflects the world of the human psyche at the time of first communion. If we read them as an autobiography, we notice how consistent, and at the same time how internally complex their author’s personality is.

Bibliography



poetry:

  • Wybór większości, Stowarzyszenie Literackie im. K. K. Baczyńskiego, Łódź 1995
  • Hurtownia ran, Wydawnictwo Zielona Sowa, Kraków 2000; wyd. 2 – 2007
  • Wiersze ludowe, Biuro Literackie Port Legnica, Legnica 2001; wyd. 2 – 2007
  • Pełne morze, Biuro Literackie, Wrocław 2006
  • Wybór większości i Wiersze z okolic, Biuro Literackie, Wrocław 2007
  • Polskie znaki, Biuro Literackie, Wrocław 2010
  • Echa, Biuro Literackie, Wrocław 2013

for children:

  • Bajki Misia Fisia, Znak, Kraków 2012
  • Misiu Fisiu ma dobry dzień, dobry dzień, Znak, Kraków 2015

non-fiction:

  • Tischner, Znak, Kraków 2001
  • Kapelusz na wodzie, Znak, Kraków 2010

Translations:

Czech:

  • Lidové bàsně [Wiersze ludowe], trans. Jiří Červenka, Praga: Triada 2015