(1920-1986) is a major Polish writer, and widely acknowledged as a peer of the Nobel Prize winners Wislawa Szymborska and Czeslaw Milosz. She has left a rich legacy of fifteen books of poetry; two volumes of Notebooks (a short-hand record of her readings and self-questioning); three volumes of commentaries on the Bible; and many other writings and translations. Kamienska came of age during the horrors of the Nazi occupation of Poland and then lived under Communism. These experiences, as well as the sudden death of her husband, the well-known poet Jan Spiewak, opened up in her work a period of reflection: a subtle thinker and expert on ancient cultures (her translation of Metamorphoses
by Aristophanes is considered a jewel), she dedicated herself to developing a fresh approach to understanding the Bible, while also studying the great religious thinkers of the 20th century.
Her poems record the struggles of a rational mind with religious faith, addressing loneliness and uncertainty in a remarkably direct, unsentimental manner. Her spiritual quest resulted in extraordinary poems on Job and other biblical figures, as well as the victims of the Holocaust. Other poems explore the meaning of loss, grief, and human life. Still, her poetry expresses a fundamentally religious sense of gratitude for her own existence and that of other human beings, as well as for myriad creatures, such as hedgehogs, birds and “young leaves willing to open up to the sun.”
Grazyna Drabik is a translator of Polish poetry into English and Portuguese, with translations published in literary journals and anthologies in the U. S. and Brazil. She is co-author of The New New Yorkers: Portraits in Photos & Words, an adjunct lecturer in the Department of English at City College – CUNY, and a contributing writer for the weekly cultural supplement of Nowy Dziennik (The Polish Daily News)
in New York.
David Curzon is the author of books of poetry and midrash
(e.g., The View from Jacob’s Ladder), and the editor of two anthologies. His work is represented in two Oxford anthologies and in World Poetry. He is currently a contributing editor of The Forward
newspaper and The Jerusalem Review