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Translated from the Polish by John and Bogdana Carpenter
Published: Sat Jul 1 2006
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
Whenever I Meet

Translated from the Polish by John Carpenter and Bogdana Carpenter

 

_       _ Cherubim and Seraphim, these I can understand. But where do these fat crows in the garden come from, the branch bending under their weight?
_       _ I wonder at each sparrow jumping as if on a spring, I wonder at each wandering cat.
_       _ O secret, intermediate world, so you continue to exist?
_           _ Whenever I meet eye to eye with a dog standing on legs spread wide and staring at me expectantly and persistently, I can’t resist the thought that it is for my abuses of speech, for my boasting and false tone, that he was punished by speechlessness.

 

Julia Hartwig occupies a prominent place in the Polish literary landscape. She has been awarded numerous prizes in Poland, France, and the United States, including the Jurzykowski Prize and the Thornton Wilder Prize from the Translation Center at Columbia University, and the Austrian Georg Trakl Prize for poetry. Hartwig has translated many American poets into Polish. She has also translated poetry by Apollinaire, Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Cendrars, Supervielle, and Henri Michaux, and published studies of Apollinaire and Gerard de Nerval.

John Carpenter is a poet and critic. Bogdana Carpenter is a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, currently chair of the Slavic Department. They have translated many volumes of the writer Zbigniew Herbert, among other works; they are preparing a collection of Julia Hartwig’s poetry with the working title In Praise of the Unfinished. (10/2006)

Julia Hartwig (1921–2017) belonged to the great generation of Polish poets that included Czesław Miłosz, Zbigniew Herbert, and Wisława Szymborska. In Poland she achieved something of a cult status, her public appearances and readings drawing large crowds. She was awarded numerous prizes in Poland, France, and the United States, including the Jurzykowski Prize and the Thornton Wilder Prize from the Translation Center at Columbia University, and the Austrian Georg Trakl Prize for poetry. Hartwig translated many American poets into Polish. She also translated poetry by Apollinaire, Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Cendrars, Supervielle, and Henri Michaux, and published studies of Apollinaire and Gerard de Nerval.

John and Bogdana Carpenter, working together, have translated seven volumes of poetry and prose by Zbigniew Herbert, for which they received the Witter Bynner Translation Prize, the Islands and Continents Translation Award, and the Columbia University Translation Center Merit Award. They have also translated two volumes of Julia Hartwig’s poetry. Bogdana, professor emerita of Polish and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, is the author of The Poetic Avant-garde in Poland, 1918–39, and Monumenta Polonica: The First Four Centuries of Polish Poetry. John is the author of Creating the World and Wall, Watchtower, and Pencil Stub, a study of wartime writings by participants in World War Two. (updated 10/2015)

John and Bogdana Carpenter’s translation of Zbigniew Herbert’s book Mr. Cogito was reviewed in AGNI 39 by Susan Miron

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