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TOMASZ ROZYCKI
© Dorota Rozycka

Tomasz Rozycki's family shared the fate of his predecessor Adam Zagajewski in having been forcibly expelled from Poland's eastern territories when they were annexed to the Soviet Union after World War II. Although he was born in 1970 and grew up in western Poland, his work is similarly informed by the moral and historical imagination of that upheaval, and by the vagaries of personal and collective memory.


The critic Piotr Sliwinski describes Rozycki's poetry as occupying "a tension between speech, which is kept on a tight rein and removes the threat of reality, and experience, which would like to break free of language...." Critic and poet Jacek Gutorow identifies a similar tension in the metaphoric topography of Rozycki's poetry, reading it in terms of Simone Weil's concept of metaxu, which denotes the idea of a connecting distance: "If I were to describe Rozycki's geography - at any rate the most essential dimension of that geography - I would employ the word metaxu, with all the connotations that it bears. I'm thinking here of a poetry of the home, but of a home suspended in space, uprooted; and of a poetry of the homeland, but of that endangered, that oneiric homeland of fairytale and legend, of overheard stories, and of national mythology; of a poetry that has grown out of tradition, but not in an obvious, unreflected way; of a poetry of space and time, but of the kind of space that in the end must be abandoned, and of the kind of time that is running out. I would say that Tomasz Rozycki's poems describe an 'intermediate space,' a domain in which both good and evil take place, or more precisely, being and the illusion of being ...there simply are not that many [younger] poets who succeed in so profoundly and obsessively investigating and describing the space of experience (although perhaps the French word esprit should be used here) and the movement of transgression." (Gutorow, The Independence of Voice: Sketches on Polish Poetry After 1968).


Tomasz Rozycki's poem "Scorched Maps" was published in PEN America 10 and republished on the PEN America blog together with a commentary by him.


Rozycki's collections, The Forgotton Keys and The Colonies have been published in Mira Rosenthal's English translations by Zephyr Press.


Bill Johnston received 2016 Found in Translation Award for his translation of Tomasz Rozycki's Twelve Stations (Zephyr Press, 2015).


More about Rozycki's The Forgotten Keys
July 2019
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