Friday, March 7, 2014

The World Shared - Dariusz Sośnicki

Today's book of poetry:  The World Shared.  Dariusz Sosnicki.  Translated by Piotr Florczyk and Boris Dralyuk.  BOA Editions, Ltd.  Rochester, New York, USA.  2014.

Reading Dariusz Sosnicki is a bit like Vladimir Mayakovsky running into Wislawa Szymborska on a train, they sit down with the patient Raymond Carver and start to hack out poems.  Sosnicki's thoroughly modern voice rumbles across these pages with an echo of old Europe singing background serenades.

These melancholy poems read a little like fables, a little like common knowledge.

There is always something lost in translation, although I'm certain Florczyk and Dralyuk did an excellent job.  I only know a few words in Polish and can't read the original.  The loss I refer to is that unbridgeable gap in the imaginations of cultures.  Even when speaking the same language idiom can be so subtle, ethereal, as to render a meaning translation almost impossible.  When I lived in Eastern Europe I was constantly befuddled by phrases like "drunk as a rainbow", but instantly saw the poetry in the language.  Piotr Florczyk and Boris Dralyuk have assuredly found Sosnicki's real voice for us.

Alphabet of Mr. P.: Shopping Bag

The drawer will finally break. There are too many of these bags,
plastic shopping bags, promotional tote bags that promote nothing.
Why collect them all—one cat, and small at that,
who uses the litter box four times a day,
and one trash can won't justify this mania.

He barely opens the drawer and they come mushrooming out.
Fungus in time-lapse footage.
Just watch, and the first puffball will burst
and pieces of foil will cover the kitchen
like a certain village past Kutno, with a pile of garbage
towering to the west of it: The wind tears from it the airiest pieces
and carries them east over the fields. Beware, Warsaw,
your drawer is already bursting at the seams.

This transparency, however, is a bit uncomfortable:
obviously, bread, cheeses, mineral water, Gazeta Wyborcza,
but alcohol is already creating problems. Especially a small bottle
of Gorzka Zoladkowa, heralding an intimate adventure
in front of the TV rather than a grand party
or a romantic dinner for two, with lit candles,
which, for the life of me, I can't see in the bag. Loneliness is blacklisted
and attracts predators that hunt in packs. Beware, you lonely ones.

Children grab for a bag as chicks grab for their mother's beak,
asking what's in it for them. They get a Snickers bar and jellies,
so as to disappear into the depths of the children's room.
From the standpoint of human civilization this scene isn't too
but the invention of sweets certainly deserves praise.

And it's good to see, out of the corner of one's eye, that the bags are full,
thinks Mr. P., bent over the atlas. To hear how heavily it falls onto the
     kitchen table—
that nothing on which, as usual, you spent fifty zlotys.


From the introduction by Florczyk and Dralyuk:
     "Since the 1990s Dariusz Sosnicki has come to be recognized as a singular 
     voice in Polish poetry, bracingly fresh and yet refreshingly unaffected by
     the latest literary trends. This present collection, culled from the past two
     decades of Sosnicki's poetic activity, is a rich, sustained meditation on our
     shared world, which can feel at once lonely and crowded, small and boundless,
     immutable and forever changing."

Mr. and Mrs. P. and Anti-Wanda

Why do Polish girls take off their shoes on the train
and put their feet up on the seat in front of them? Why do they squeeze
     them in
between the knees of that boy in shorts, a none too nice Hungarian or
to whom they are bound by body chemistry and a few dozen English

Why don't they respond to our Polish "good morning,"
when we enter the compartment, and then, a moment later,
when the train crosses the border, quickly hand their passports with the
on the cover to the customs officer, and stubbornly watch for something
     outside our window?

We did not take the teacher's version of the Hippocratic Oath,
but we're always ready to come to our relative's aid:

Large breasts aren't aren't everything.
We've paid dearly for our disastrous geopolitical situation,
but Gombrowicz and Lem wrote in this language, each slightly
Once your Hungarian throws himself out the window or swallows
and the German submerges himself in beer, soccer and pornography,
     you'll long for a country

where a bread crumb
gets picked up from the pavement out of respect.

For this country.


Civilization can be a disquieting disappointment, Sosnicki chips away at its' under-carriage in the service of truth and beauty.  The World Shared makes our world smaller, more approachable, in this ever expanding universe.

The Ikarus

is packed, only a few people
in bright cloths, talking softly;
but the engine's temperamental and there are scraps
of a whole bunch of poplar fluff—hence so much babble and stirring.

A girl with a baby is grabbing at these scraps:'
how lucky, if I can catch a lot,
then I'll be happy; let it be so,
but it's not okay to shake like that

and rock back and forth in the squeaking seat,
or eat the fucking candy. Do I have to
think of every loser? For a moment the ground disappears
as I look through the rear window—strips of mud fall of the tires

and a contrail hangs in the air, luminous, among the chestnut branches.

(blogger's note:  Ikarus - is a type of bus, and now in Polish, sans accents)


jest wypelniony, ledwie kilku ludzi
w jasnych ubraniach, rozmawiaja cicho;
lecz silnik ma temperament i strzepkow jest cala
masa topolowego puchu — stad tyle gwaru i ruchu.

Poluje na te strzepki dziewczyna z niemowleciem:
oto szczescie, uda mi sie nalapac
to bede szczesliwa; niechby,
ale nie mozna tak trzasc sie

i kiwac na skrzypiacym siedzeniu,
jesc pierdolonych cukierkow. Czy musze
myslec o kazdym ploamancu? Przez chwile nie widac ziemi,
gdy patrze za siebie przez szybe—paski blota odpadaja od opon

i smuga w powietrzu zostaje, jasna, wsrod kasztanowych galezi.


Dariusz Sasnicki (b. 1969, in Kalisz) is a poet, essayist, and editor.  He lives in Poznan, Poland.

Dariusz Sosnicki reading Poznan Poetow

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