to save something from the flood which catches us by surprise


Tadeusz Różewicz is a poet of dark refusals, hard negations. He is a naked or impure poet (“I crystallize impure poetry,” he writes), an anti-poet relentlessly, even ruthlessly determined to tell the truth, however painful it may be. He scorns the idea of the poet as prophet and speaks from the margins—a stubborn outsider. “A poet is one who believes / and one who cannot,” he declares. He dwells in uncertainties and doubts, in the insecure, gray areas of life—skepticism is his native mindset—and strips poetry down to its bare essentials: words alone on a page. He is bracingly clear and shuns the floridities—the grand consolations—of the traditional lyric. His characteristic free-verse style is a non-style, a zero-sum game. “I have no time for aesthetic values,” he says. Rather, he treats modern poetry as “a battle for breath” and writes with an anxious, prolific, offhanded urgency. He is wary and intense, a bemused seer of nothingness. I consider him the Samuel Beckett of modern Polish poetry.

more from Edward Hirsch at VQR here.