April 12, 2016

Thursday, July 9, 2015

World Poetry: Poland

Happy Poetry Friday! First, in case you missed my happy screams on Wednesday, it was cover reveal day for THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY. Check out these adorable kids.

Don't be spacey, head over to
The Logonauts.
Katie is hosting this week's
Poetry Friday blog-roll.
Now on to Poetry Friday.

Last month, I traveled to Salerno, Italy for a world poetry conference. For the next several Poetry Fridays, I am featuring poets from around the globe. Some of these poets are people I met in Salerno and others are part of the literary community here in central Maryland.

On Monday, I was at a reading to celebrate the launch of two news books by today's poet, Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka. Her website is here.

Monday night's reading was at LitMore.

Danka came to the U.S.  in 1980 from Poland on a postdoctoral fellowship from the Muscular Dystrophy Association. She writes in English, but also translates from Polish to English. One of her ongoing projects is translating the work of her mother, the Polish poet Lidia Kosk.

Two books at the same time?! This year has been an abundance of riches in Danka's writing life. First, her book Face Half-Illuminated was accepted by Apprentice House Books, our country's oldest student-run independent press. This is an unusual book, because it combines Danka's own poems and essays with her translations of her mother, the Polish poet Lidia Kosk. (A previous book, Niedosyt/Reshapings, is bilingual, and includes Lidia Kosk's poetry in Polish, side by side with Danka's translations.)

Available from Apprentice House books.
On the heels of that acceptance, Danka found out that a chapbook of her own poems won the 2015 Harriss Poetry Prize and would be published by CityLit Press. The book is titled Oblige the Light.

A list of Harriss Prize winners is here.

Danka reminded me that the two of us met in 2010, when my Harriss Prize chapbook Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone was published. She and her husband attended the launch reading at CityLit Festival. We have been friends since then. I'm a fan of Danka's work and, as editor, have selected it to appear in one of my anthology's and multiple times in Little Patuxent Review.

Danka didn't start her career as a poet until later in life. She came to the U.S. to work as a biochemist, eventually doing research at Johns Hopkins in Maryland. Her arrival in America occurred just as a period of political upheaval began in Poland. Many of her poems express the history of war in Europe and political oppression in her native country that Danka and her family witnessed.

If you'd like to read more about Danka's fascinating background, you'll find my interview with her here. 

From Niedosyt/Reshapings

Lidia Kosk

Z okna mojego mieszkania

Nad domem naprzeciwko,
co oknami patrzy ku memu oknu,
zawiesił się księżyc,
wśród skał i kamieni z obłoków.
I wisiał długo, wytrwale,
aż zapomniałam, że z nim zerwałam
na stałe.
Aż zapomniałam, że w duszy
już tak dawno brak grania,
aż cała byłam z zapamiętania.

Translated by Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka

From the Window of My Apartment

Above the apartment house,
whose windows exchange looks with mine,
the moon got stuck
among the rocks and boulders of clouds.
He kept hanging there, stubbornly,
until I forgot that I had broken with him
Until I forgot that my soul
did not sing anymore.
Until all of me was a song.

From Oblige the Light

Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka

My Mother at Twelve
Minkowice, Poland, 1940
Hours of waiting at the bakery,
all my money for a last loaf of bread.
Now, cycling kilometers to hunger at home.

Near the hamlet where roads cross,
I see German soldiers rounding up people,
my friend Hana among them.

I jump off the bicycle, run toward Hana
with the still-warm bread. “Death for helping Jews,”
the soldier points his gun at my chest. I trip and fall;
a bullet wails.

When darkness lifts,
I see trampled bread on the empty road.

Here is Danka reading one of my favorite poems of hers, "The Movie in My Head," at a Little Patuxent Review event. Please visit to read more of Danka's work.

In the World Poetry Series:

World Poetry: India, featuring Menka Shivdasani


Sally Murphy said...

Wow! What beautiful poems. The last one made me cry - it is shocking and haunting all at once. Thank you so much for sharing.

Katie TheLogonauts said...

Wow, such powerful poems! Thank you for bringing this incredible poet to our attention and congrats for being the first link for this week's #PoetryFriday!

Gathering Books said...

Wow, so vivid, so powerful. On the firs poem, the last few lines spoke to me. I felt the breaking. The second poem just made me pause. Thank you for sharing this poet's work. I could see how the whole scenario played out as if i was there. The last few lines made me pause and cover my mouth in shock.

Author Amok said...

Thanks for your comments. One of the things I love about Danka's poetry is how visual it is. Of course! She is a fine photographer and artist. The cover of OBLIGE THE LIGHT is one of Danka's photographs.

Linda B said...

They're all beautiful and poignant, Laura. What a gift Danka has to help us "see". Yet, I especially loved hearing her read the poems. Even in that, she helped us see. I'm glad you're sharing all your connections and experiences with us.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

These are all so touching and vibrant. Thank you for bringing this poet to us! I especially enjoyed hearing her read. Lovely.

Tara said...

My goodness, the power of that last one. Thanks for sharing this wonderful poet with us,Laura.

Carol said...

"My Mother at Twelve" is such a haunting image. Who was it who said, "No power but in things?" I keep seeing that loaf of bread laying in the road. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for comments on Laura's post and your touching reactions to my and my mother's poems.

Today I have another event Writers' panel at LitMore,Baltimore Center for the Literary Arts, about book publishing that includes my two books featured in the blog.

Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka (Danka)

Doraine said...

Such beautiful poems. Thank you for sharing your poetry friends with us.

Mary Lee said...

What an amazing community of poets you connected to at the conference! Thank you for introducing us to your far-flung friends!