I’ve been translating the poetry of Polish author Tomasz Różycki for over a decade now. We first met in 2004—an auspicious year for both of us. I was on a creative writing Fulbright Fellowship in Kraków, an experience that would solidify my interest in Polish literature and send me headlong into the language. That same year, Tomasz’s fifth and most ambitious book in subject matter and form, Twelve Stations, became a true literary phenomenon, winning the prestigious Kościelski Award and quickly finding its way onto the stage and into the classroom. I was just as smitten as so many Polish readers by his unique voice. But even more so I was taken by the musicality of his other lyric poetry, with its seamless mix of deadpan humor, historical awareness, and existential longing. Since then, I’ve translated a book of selected poetry entitled The Forgotten Keys as well as his collection Colonies; I’m currently translating his most recent volume, Litery, selections of which have appeared or are forthcoming in Guernica, Kenyon Review, The High Window, Michigan Quarterly Review, Two Lines, Epiphany, and elsewhere.
In the midst of our current correspondence over minutiae of the translations, we wove in a conversation about life, writing, and the state of poetry in the world. Thanks to the wonderful editors at Music & Literature for publishing it.