Krystyna Dąbrowska

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  • photo by Krzysztof Dubiel

(b. 1979) is a poet, translator, and essayist. She graduated from the Graphic Design Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. She has published three volumes of poetry. In 2013, she received the Kościelski Prize, the Wisława Szymborska Award, and the Warsaw Literary Prize for The White Chairs. She translates English-language poetry (including William Carlos Williams, W. B. Yeats, Thomas Hardy, Thom Gunn, Ruth Padel, and Charles Simic). She is also the author of reviews, sketches on poetry, and radio plays. Her poems have been translated into English, French, Greek, German, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, and Italian.

Krystyna Dąbrowska's poetry is tactful and restrained. The poet enjoys leaving things understated and ambiguous. Her poems are simple, legible, and devoid of elaborate decor – they grow from a desire to understand and speak of the world. Dąbrowska's work often derives from details, which are recorded in her poems as in a photograph. Everyday events, observations from journeys near and far, and descriptions of material objects are pretexts for the poet to pose existential questions.

In her debut volume, titled Travel Agency, Dąbrowska found her poetic voice. The city plays an essential role here, depicted almost like man's natural environment, giving him a sense of security and identity, and yet its elements – electricity, water, noise, and so forth – lie in wait for him.

The award-winning White Chairs rather gives us travel impressions. The author shows a lively interest in faraway cultures, particularly those with long-standing traditions. The book also contains a range of people's portraits – both those near to the author and those encountered by chance. Seeking meaning in their lives, the poet also seeks meaning for existence as such.

In Time and Aperture our attention is occupied by a love relationship between a woman and a man, described as a mutually inspiring encounter, a complement, an endless conversation. Dąbrowska sees this other person as a source of constant interest and inspiration. She approaches everyday objects and nature with identical understanding and  curiosity. Every poem is written with a Herbertian “feeling for the stones, the birds, and for people.”

As a poet, Dąbrowska situates herself as a link between nature dead and alive, between disparate cultures, generations, ways of life, and between the living and the deceased. “I am a travel agency for the dead / I organize their flights to the dreams of the living,” she wrote in the title poem of her first poetry collection.

Bibliography

  • Biuro podróży [Travel Agency], Kraków: Wydawnictwo Zielona Sowa, 2006.
  • Białe krzesła [The White Chairs], Poznań: WBPiCAK, 2012.
  • Czas i przesłona [Time and Aperture], Kraków: Znak, 2014.