Zephy Press, 2022
By Krystyna Dąbrowska; translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Mira Rosenthal, and Karen Kovacik
Krystyna Dąbrowska is an award-winning younger Polish poet whose poems convey a profound curiosity about the world, not only expressed by the lyric speaker but by those inside the poems — two owls guarding their nest, or a dog at the beach, or blind visitors in a museum. Her work and use of language so captivated the three translators that they decided to collaborate on this collection together. Many poems address daily life; others delve into the Holocaust, family relationships, and travels — to Cairo, Georgia, Jerusalem. Tideline is her first book in English, presented bilingually with the original Polish. These are exquisitely-crafted poems that explore how stories, and history, lie beneath the surface: of a neighbor’s face, city streets, ancient ruins, even language.
Praise for Tideline
“Tideline shows a high level of stylistic integration while retaining the essential personality of each translator—a model of collaboration . . . The poems take one straight to language, rhythm, and style. The images and alliterations, so important for a visual poet such as Dąbrowska, are felicitously translated. The translation has an unhurried, conversational feeling that smooths the terseness of some of the Polish phrasing, especially when the sentences and verses’ caesura deviate from the original. But it is the organization of the volume, and in particular the fluid, overlapping themes of the four sections, that convincingly lead the reader into Dąbrowska’s world. This organization mirrors her true poetic personality, namely her journey to the apparent simplicity that characterizes the most difficult works of art. This is indeed quite a tour de force.”—World Literature Today
“Krystyna Dąbrowska’s poetry is sensitive to the fleeting subjects of our everyday life, intensely lived emotions and feelings, noting everything that is left unsaid in our existence with great precision: the silence, the search for its hidden meaning that is so hard to express.”—from the jury for the Kościelski Award
“[White Chairs] combines both perspectives—the classicist and realist—while avoiding the pitfalls they carry. In Dąbrowska’s poems, we see a clear focus on everyday life, in detail, and with the knowledge that we live in an inherited world, full of meanings and cultural references, even if, as René Char wrote, this heritage ‘was not left to us by any testament’… Dąbrowska’s poetry lies somewhere between the nonclassical classicism of Cavafy and the out-of-the-ordinary ordinary life of Williams.’”—Piotr Keżun
“Krystyna Dąbrowska’s poetry is characterized by discretion and restraint. But the poet eagerly reaches for what is ambiguous and elusive. Her poems are direct, accessible, and devoid of elaborate ornaments—they grow out of a desire to understand and give voice to the world. Dąbrowska’s work often arises out of detail documented like a photograph. Daily events, observations from travels both near and far, and descriptions of material objects serve as poetic sources for asking existential questions.”—Polish Book Institute