Closure of Conference project. Post-Conference Plans

Many many thanks to everyone who participated in the conference, to all those who presented papers, read their poetry or translations, contributed to discussions or just came to listen.

This blog will remain open as a record of the conference proceedings and will continue to include the programme, the abstracts of the presentations and the short biographies of the participants.

We have removed the conference papers from this site because we intend to include revised versions in a post-conference book. This book will not be a representation of the conference proceedings as such, however, but a volume of articles roughly reflecting the structure of the conference. The book will be edited by Ursula Philips, supported by a team of advisers (Urszula Chowaniec, Knut Andreas Grimstad, Kris Van Heuckelom and Elwira Grossman). It is expected that the volume will appear in 2013.

Should anyone wish to contact the authors of papers or read the original papers, please contact the conference organizer.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese

Rewritten Poems and Anthologized Presences: A Sequel

In 1991, introducing Stanisław Barańczak’s anthology Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule: Spoiling Cannibals’ Fun, Helen Vendler expressed her strong conviction that Polish poets would know how to cope without Communism: ‘The Mr. Cogitos of Poland will not lack for things to write about with respect to their own past and future; and the old and distinguished resources of the Polish literary tradition, from folk ballads to historical epics, will surely not fail them’ (xxi). Vendler’s belief in the creative resourcefulness of Polish Mr. Cogitos reinforced, paradoxically, the cognitive template of ‘the East European poem’ popularized in English-speaking poetic circles thanks to anthologists and translators. In 2004 Jerzy Jarniewicz, my guest at the ‘Poetries, Translations, Cultures’ symposium, argued – much to the dismay of Daniel Weissbort, another guest and editor of the 1991 anthology significantly entitled The Poetry of Survival: Post-War Poets of Central and Eastern Europe – that the East European poem had long died. ‘In its place new poetry has appeared – poems by Marcin Świetlicki, Andrzej Sosnowski, Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki, Darek Foks, Roman Honet, Mariusz Grzebalski. [This new poetry] does not need the support of political context or exotic historical experience. However, it does require from its translators creativity which equals that of the original authors’ (Przekładaniec 2004-2005: 36).
Bearing in mind André Lefevere’s argument that translating and anthologizing are acts of rewriting (see Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary Fame, 1992), I would like to examine the rewritten presences of the new Polish poetry. My current investigation will start where I left off in the 2000 essay ‘How to Make a Name for Yourself: Contemporary Polish Poetry in English, Anthologies and Choices’, which finished with the 1993 Donald Pirie anthology collecting poems that ‘speak with the authentic voices of real “singularities” and their very sensual experience of what is more than a New Poland – it is a New World’ (xxvi). While writing that essay, I myself was engaged in the act of rewriting: translating and co-editing Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird. Poetry from Poland, which finally appeared in 2004, the year which also saw Altered State: The New Polish Poetry. I have since guest-edited or assisted editing seven presentations of Polish poets, which also feature my translations. How alive are the rewritten poems?

The Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use
University of Copenhagen