After 1990 Polish poetry shifted big time. It is a damn fine shift. A shift that SHOULD draw more attention from American and UK poets. And MUCH more attention from the literary world in Poland. Poetry in the education system in Poland seems to be even worse than in the UK and US. The more exciting Polish poets are rarely taught. I have spoken to a few folks who said it was very very very hard to get materials on the Beats while doing an MA at university. But I think some Polish literature professors might have made it to the 1970’s in Polish literature. But it seems, from talking to others, that they are mostly clueless.
This is a quick rough summary of the landscape taken from an essay on Post-Colonialism by Anna Kałuża.
After the horrors of WWII Polish poetry as a whole showed a desire to be settled and find a place. Nation building. Space through similarity and a desire for stable meaning (Milosz in exile etc.) A desire for community. “Similarity perceived in “the other” becomes a condition for an assimilatory understanding of otherness” (Anna Kałuża). Poets in this group included:
Zbigniew Herbert, Czesław Miłosz, Jacek Podsiadło
I feel very little for the work of these poets. Most of their work bores me to tears. Poetry with a capital P. They have a few ok poems. Much like Seamus Heaney has a few ok poems. But as a whole, their work does nothing new or interesting.
Before 1990 there were also poets who used the language of otherness. Some are like the American poets Dean Young, Tony Hoagland etc. A dirivitive and often stale use of otherness. Others are more interesting. One of the influences seems to be the NY school. Hybrids. The more interesting poets in this group include:
Tadeusz Różewicz (otherness in a more classical vein)i, Marcin Świetlicki (a beat poet)
The new other is very exciting. Their work takes off after 1990 (along with the static otherness in the second grouping). And builds more after 2000. I don’t think they are taught in school. I think most Polish students are taught poets from the first group. The nation builders. BORING!!! But this group is hot hot hot!!!
As a whole the work of these poets does not take an overt ethical interest in building Polish society. Otherness and playfulness is different than the language of otherness in Tadeusz Różewicz and Marcin Świetlicki. The crucial and most interesting difference is:
difference is more strongely emphasized though it is not made static
The influences on both of these new poetries (1 and 2) are varied but one big influence seems to be the NY school poetry (1st and 2nd and 3rd generations).
Some of the poets in this group of non-static otherness include:
Andrzej Sosnowski, Marcin Sendecki, Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki,
and my new friend
you can check his poetry, and others, in the Jacket issue of new Polish poets here: