June 24, 2008, 7:00 PM
Our Life in Poetry: Post-War Polish Poets
Participants: Michael Braziller & Edward Hirsch
This session of Our Life in Poetry will examine Postwar Polish poetry, one of the great literary realizations of the twentieth century. The work of Czeslaw Milosz and the half generation who came after him—Zbigniew Herbert, Wislawa Szymborska, and Tadeusz Rozewich—teaches us something crucial about the nature of poetry. The Second World War was such a traumatic event for a new generation of Polish poets it called all moral and aesthetic values into question. The major poets of postwar Poland needed to recreate poetry from the ground up. They shared (and share) a distrust of rhetoric, of false words and sentiments. Determined to speak in their own voices, they have mounted a witty and tireless defense of individual subjectivity against collectivist thinking. At the same time they have found it virtually impossible to ignore the catastrophic history of their country. These writers created a dialogue between the individual and history. Micheal Braziller, publisher of Persea Books, and his guest, Edward Hirsch, will examine major works by a group of poets who have taken history into account even as they seek to transcend it.
Edward Hirsch has published seven books of poems: For the Sleepwalkers, Wild Gratitude, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Night Parade, Earthly Measures, On Love, Lay Back the Darkness, and Special Orders. He has also written four prose books, including How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, a national bestseller, and Poets Choice. He edits the series The Writer's World (Trinity University Press). He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, and a MacArthur Fellowship. He taught creative writing at the University of Houston for eighteen years and now serves as president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
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