|Zbigniew Joachimiak, David Malcolm &
Georgia Scott (Transl. & Ed.)
Dreams of Fires
100 Polish Poems 1970 - 1989
March 2004. 152 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-15-2; ISBN-10 3-901993-15-0
Dreams of Fires. Poland in the 1970s and 1980s was a country in the throes of political upheaval. Political murders, tanks on the streets, the threat of invasion from the Soviet Union, the challenges to the Communist state thrown down by the Solidarity movement, brutal police violence, strikes, economic chaos, a bankrupt Marxist ideology, a militant Roman Catholic Church - and for many Poles the day-to-day struggle to survive with some measure of dignity and integrity. Out of this witches' brew emerged the first non-Communist government in Eastern Europe since the 1940s. And a poetry that resists, that bites back, that cries in despair, that dreams of the fires to come.
This anthology contains the work of authors mostly born in the 1950s
who, in the 1970s and 1980s, created a space in which the danse macabre
of Communist Poland could - in memorable language - be rehearsed, analysed,
rent apart and annulled. Poets like Józef Baran, Urszula Malgorzata
Benka, Anna Czekanowicz, Stanislaw Esden-Tempski, Andrzej Kaliszewski,
Krystyna Lars, Krzysztof Lisowski, Antoni Pawlak, Jan Sochon, Piotr Sommer,
Andrzej Szuba and Wladyslaw Zawistowski were some of the system's gravediggers,
and more, for they also speak of experiences that transcend the particular
circumstances of late-Communist Poland.
"The admirable, almost preternatural sensitivity of this poetry to what
might thwart freedom or threaten human dignity, its exemplary calm and
decent detachment in the face of what was and still is a menacing reality
engender something which one would be hard pressed not to call hope" -
Daniel Weissbort, "Preface"
"Dreams of Fire reunites two dignities American literature has forgotten because our civilization has divorced them: despair and joy. These twenty poets have wrested Polish poetry from the Nazis and Soviets, swallowed them whole, and stand vulnerable but resourceful. Americans assume poetry is not history and private lives are confessions. Poles assume their poetry and private lives are essentially history. For them, literature and civilization are still wedded. Formula: survival = art. Surrealism dominates these anti-romantic poems, and forget traditional forms, and, in most cases, rules of grammar. Poem by poem, a wierd rightness confirms this rebuttal of "normal". Such irony saves their harmed reason."
Ricks Carson. Oyster Boy Review 19 (Special Supplement; Summer 2011): 14-15.
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