Friday, 28 August 2015

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Story Quilt




Lovely to see it's still there. Silk and paper patchworks created for Healing Arts Trust as part of Doing The Rounds project (University Hospital Waterford).

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Anna Kamieńska (1920-1986) was a prominent member of that particularly distinguished generation of Polish writers who experienced the Second World War as young men and women, many of whom died at the hands of the Nazis. During the war she taught in underground schools in the Lublin region, having studied Education in Warsaw. She continued her studies after the War and subsequently became deeply involved in the literary life of the Polish capital, working on the important monthly magazine Creativity. Her first published poems appeared in 1945 and her last in her Two Darknesses: Selected Poems (1984) from which the poems in this current volume are selected and translated. Her Notebooks appeared posthumously in 1987.
Her work was deeply influenced by the War, the Holocaust, and the suffering of Poland, as well as more personal grief, especially as a result of the early death in 1967 of her husband, Jan Spiewak, also a poet. Kamieńska is undoubtedly a religious poet yet she is also a technically and stylistically adventurous ‘modern’ poet. Although Biblical allusions and aspects of Catholic mysticism pervade her work, there is nothing predictably pietistic about it. She has been called a Catholic Existentialist, and her admiration for the great French ‘patron saint of outsiders’, the unorthodox, Judaeo-Christian mystic Simone Weil who died during the War, is significant. The thirty-five poems in the collection include the major ten-part sequence ‘Job’s Second Happiness’, as well as major poems on Dr Korczak, Edith Stein, Andrei Rublow, the Janów Orchestra and ‘A Short Conversation with Simone Weil’.
Shortly before Kamieńska’s death, which was unexpected, Tomasz Krzeszowski visited her and read her the translations in progress, including the Job poems. She was delighted with the project and gave it her blessing.
Tomasz P Krzeszowski, a lexicographer and poet, was Professor of English at the University of Gdańsk at the time of making these translations, and was subsequently a Professor at the University of Warsaw.
Questions on rights to reproduce the translations should be addressed to Desmond Graham.

It's Funny

What’s it like to be human
asked the bird
I don’t really know
to be imprisoned in one’s skin
but reach for infinity
to be captive to a particle of time
but to touch eternity
to be hopelessly uncertain
and a fool of hope
to be a needle of trust
and a handful of heat
to breathe in air
choke without a word
to be aflame
and have a nest of ashes
to eat bread
and be full up with hunger
to die without love
and to love through death
It’s funny said the bird
flying off into air lightly


Anna Kamienska