Clare Cavanagh

Winner of the NBCC in criticism, Clare Cavanagh is the Frances Hooper Professor of Arts and Humanities at Northwestern University. Her translations include Wisława Szymborska’s Map: Collected and Last Poems, with Stanisław Barańczak, and Adam Zagajewski’s Slight Exaggeration.

How to Start Writing (and When to Stop)

Literature by Wisława Szymborska

Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

In this witty “how-to” guide, Wisława Szymborska has nothing but sympathy for the labors of would-be writers generally: “I myself started out with rotten poetry and stories,” she confesses in this collection of pieces culled from the advice she gave—anonymously—for many years in the well-known Polish journal Literary Life. She returns time and again to the mundane business of writing poetry properly, that is to say, painstakingly and sparingly. “I sigh to be a poet,” Miss A.…
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Magnetic Point: Selected Poems

Fiction by Ryszard Krynicki

Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh

born in transit I came upon on the place of death So Ryszard Krynicki begins the early lyric that gave his 1969 debut volume Act of Birth its title (a poem which ends: “I live / in the place of death”). These are not simply metaphors. One of the greatest poets of postwar Poland, Krynicki was born in 1943 in a Nazi labor camp in Austria, where his parents, Polish peasants from Ukraine, served as slave laborers.…
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