Friday, June 06, 2008

Adam Zagajewski wins the 2008 Milosz Prize

Polskie Radio news reports that Adam Zagajewski, a Polish poet, novelist and essayist who teaches at the University of Chicago has won the 2008 Milosz Prize. The prize, established by the United States Embassy in Poland is "given to persons who have made outstanding contributions to the development of the Polish-US cultural dialogue and contacts".

Below: Zagajewski's poem "Autumn"


Autumn is always too early.
The peonies are still blooming, bees
are still working out ideal states,
and the cold bayonets of autumn
suddenly glint in the fields and the wind

What is its origin? Why should it destroy
dreams, arbors, memories?
The alien enters the hushed woods,
anger advancing, insinuating plague;
woodsmoke, the raucous howls
of Tatars.

Autumn rips away leaves, names,
fruit, it covers the borders and paths,
extinguishes lamps and tapers; young
autumn, lips purpled, embraces
mortal creatures, stealing
their existence.

Sap flows, sacrificed blood,
wine, oil, wild rivers,
yellow rivers swollen with corpses,
the curse flowing on: mud, lava, avalanche,

Breathless autumn, racing, blue
knives glinting in her glance.
She scythes names like herbs with her keen
sickle, merciless in her blaze
and her breath. Anonymous letter, terror,
Red Army.

In other Polish poetry news, Valparaiso Poetry Review features an essay on Zbigniew Herbert's Collected Poems.

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