Map, or Holy Cow I Like a Poetry Book!/ posted in: Reading Map: Collected and Last Poems by Wisława Szymborska, Clare Cavanagh, Stanisław Barańczak
on April 2015
Source: Library, Owned
A new collected volume from the Nobel Prize–winning poet that includes, for the first time in English, all of the poems from her last Polish collection
One of Europe’s greatest recent poets is also its wisest, wittiest, and most accessible. Nobel Prize–winner Wislawa Szymborska draws us in with her unexpected, unassuming humor. Her elegant, precise poems pose questions we never thought to ask. “If you want the world in a nutshell,” a Polish critic remarks, “try Szymborska.” But the world held in these lapidary poems is larger than the one we thought we knew.
Carefully edited by her longtime, award-winning translator, Clare Cavanagh, the poems in Map trace Szymborska’s work until her death in 2012. Of the approximately two hundred and fifty poems included here, nearly forty are newly translated; thirteen represent the entirety of the poet’s last Polish collection, Enough, never before published in English.Map is the first English publication of Szymborska’s work since the acclaimed Here, and it offers her devoted readers a welcome return to her “ironic elegance” (The New Yorker).
I am not a fan of poetry. I think that is mostly because I am not a person who is in touch with my feelings or who wishes to have other people spilling their feelings all over me. I read poetry and if I understand it at all I end up mostly thinking, “Ugh, no one cares about your feelings.” I am Scrooge.
So why did I request this book of poetry? It was Women in Translation month. I heard about this collection somewhere on Twitter. I’m always on the lookout for books from or about Poland that aren’t mired in World War II. I’m 1/4 Polish and I want to learn more about it but it is hard to find anything that isn’t miserable. Granted they’ve had more than their fair share of trouble but there has to be some literature that isn’t just depressing, doesn’t there? Also, my library happened to have this book which I thought was a bit odd for some reason.
This collection starts in the 1940s and continues to the 2000s. I’m not going to pretend that I understand every poem but I do get most of them. A lot of them are about things that I haven’t seen written about in poetry before. They span a range of emotion from happy to sad.
One of my favorites is about talking to an uppity French woman who is dismissive of Poland as just a place where it is cold. The author spins a crazy fairy tale in her mind about freezing writers struggling against the elements while herding walruses but then realizes that she doesn’t have the French vocabulary to be insultingly sarcastic back to this woman so has to just say “Pas de tout (Not at all).”
— Heather (@Dvmheather) August 17, 2017
This is a huge collection. I’ve renewed the book once but I’m not getting through it fast enough. To let you know how much I’m enjoying it I’ll say, I ordered a copy of myself. Yes, I bought a poetry book. I even thought about buying the hardcover because it seemed like it needed that kind of respect. Then my cheap side of my brain reasserted itself and I got the paperback.
I want the husband to read this too. He likes poetry. He’s into feelings. I’ll impress him by pretending to be classy and reading poetry. We’ll sneak the walrus herders up on him.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Backlist Books
- Books Set in Europe