Wisława Szymborska

Polish poet

Wisława Szymborska

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Wisława Szymborska “is unquestionably one of the great living European poets. She’s accessible and deeply human and a joy—though it is a dark kind of joy—to read. She is a poet to live with”—Robert Hass, The Washington Post Book World

cover image of the book How to Start Writing (and When to Stop)

How to Start Writing (and When to Stop)

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. P. from Bialogard exclaims. “I groan to be an editor,” Szymborska responds.

Szymborska stubbornly insists on poetry’s “prosaic side”: “Let’s take the wings off and try writing on foot, shall we?” This delightful compilation, translated by the peerless Clare Cavanagh, will delight readers and writers alike.

Perhaps you could learn to love in prose.

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