Colonies

by Tomasz Różycki
translated from Polish by Mira Rosenthal
(Zephyr Press, 2013)

Colonies2014 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize FINALIST

2014 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation Longlist Selection

2014 Griffin Poetry Prize FINALIST

2014 Northern California Book Award WINNER

2013 World Literature Today Notable Translation

2010 “Top Quark” Prize in Arts & Literature WINNER

2009 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Recipient

2008 PEN/Heim Translatin Fund Grant Recipient

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Tomasz Różycki’s sixth book of poetry, Colonies, is an exploration of collective memory in fiercely exacting poems. The seventy-seven sonnets that make up the book, each with a title that brings to mind ninteenth-century travel narratives, give a feel for the poet’s obsession with form and fixation on the historical legacy of Central Europe—preoccupations that have fueled his work from the beginning and marked him as a true successor to an extraordinary literary tradition. Różycki has developed a distinctive personal poetic voice that both embraces and questions the literary legacy of poets writing in the twenty-first century.

Praise for Colonies:

“Born of parents who were forced to immigrate from Lwów (in what is now Ukraine) to the western border of Poland, Różycki, now 41, writes with the divided sensibility bequeathed by that compelled family resettlement… Although the past is a constant theme in Różyckis work, the present erupts with no less urgency… Now to wait for the next book by a selfless translator attempting the impossible.” —Helen Vendler

“The map of Eastern and Central Europe is a palimpsest, bearing the traces of countless traumatic erasures and obliterations, and still changing day to day… Tomasz Różycki’s idiosyncratic rapprochement with tradition is an attempt to make peace with his losses, even as they mount.”—Times Literary Supplement

“Virtuosic translations of a moving Polish sonnet sequence about place and the past.”—Judges citation, Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize

“There is fearlessness in Różycki’s work which is magnetic. He speaks his truth, the truth of a man in permanent exile.”—The Quarterly Conversation (read the full review)

“Tomasz Rozycki’s poem ‘Scorched Maps’ [has been] translated by Mira Rosenthal into real lines of poetry in English… The image of the past and its losses as ‘subterranean’ is familiar. Re-imagined in ‘Scorched Maps,’ the image regains its emotional force: the seeker face-down and speaking to the earth, and the earth along with the lives it contains responding, ‘vast and wild around my head.’”—Robert Pinsky, judge, 3 Quarks Daily Prize in Arts & Literature

“Różycki, through Rosenthal’s clean and stunning translations, succeeds at giving an American audience a new perspective in a constantly changing world.”—California Journal of Poetics (read the full review)

“In Mira Rosenthal’s translation of Colonies, English-speaking readers can themselves confront the sonnet as something supple, fresh and a little bit strange.”—Judges citation, Griffin Poetry Prize

“Tomasz Różycki’s Colonies is one of the most remarkable sonnet sequences of our time: the work of a wandering, restless, and moral mind, here rendered with clarity and vividness by the translations of Mira Rosenthal.”—Susan Stewart, Princeton University

“In Tomasz Różycki’s lyric profusion, I hear the sharp blasts of a mordant intellect, but not without the human notes of an infinite melancholy playing in the background. This is the soundtrack of a valiant mind, a layered imagination that nonchalantly apprehends and formally measures the tarnished world in demotic language such that it enchantingly restores simplicity and bewilderment to our existence.”—Major Jackson, Harvard Review

“Różycki’s voice searches for words that would capture the world—capture it now, today, this very moment, our world, so uncertain about its future, and so deeply bogged down in its past. His escape is an escape from history, though reluctant, because it would leave Polish poetry behind. This is where he has his real roots, in a tradition he repels and embraces in every poem.”—Irena Grudzinska-Gross, author of Golden Harvest: Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust

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