#16 – View With a Grain of Sand by Wislawa Szymborska

When Wislawa Szymborska won the Nobel Prize for poetry, there was a bit of a kerfuffle about the fact that many of the prize committee did not read Polish. How can you truly know if the poetry is Nobel Prize-worthy if you can’t read the original?

I wonder about this, too. I don’t read Polish. But I find Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak’s translations wonderful.

Here’s a fine poem about Darwin, “Consolation.”

She’s also a long-time newspaper columnist. And her advice to would-be writers is as witty and blunt as her poems:

To Grazyna from Starachowice: “Let’s take the wings off and try writing on foot, shall we?”

To Mr. G. Kr. of Warsaw: “You need a new pen. The one you’re using makes a lot of mistakes. It must be foreign.”

To Pegasus [sic] from Niepolomice: “You ask in rhyme if life makes cents [sic]. My dictionary answers in the negative.”

View with a Grain of Sand is a fine introduction to her work.


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