THE SALT OF STRUCTURE: A Celebration of Miron Białoszewski & Launch of Aufgabe Magazine #9


The Salt of Structure: A Celebration of Miron Białoszewski will comprise readings from Białoszewski’s poems, prose, a performance of several of his cabaret pieces, as well as readings from the new issue of Aufgabe which features Polish poetry & poetics in translation. The work will be presented by American poets Peter Gizzi, Lisa Jarnot, Joan Retallack, Corina Copp, Paolo Javier, and Eugene Ostashevsky; Edwin Frank, Editor of the NYRB Classics Series; and Polish poet Ewa Chruściel, who is featured in the Aufgabe issue and will also read from her own poetry. The evening will be introduced by Harvard professor Joanna Niżyńska. There will be a post-reading reception.

Miron Białoszewski (1922–1983) was one of Poland’s great postwar poets but is so far little known in English. At once playful, meditative, provocative, perplexing, and evasive, his work is extraordinarily difficult to translate. Aside from a handful of poems published in Miłosz’s anthology Postwar Polish Poetry, only one slim volume of Białoszewski’s verse has so far appeared in English; but both it and the acclaimed, unconventional Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising remain long out of print. This situation is hopefully changing. In a recent survey of translation desiderata conducted by The Quarterly Conversation, poet and Words without Borders editor Ilya Kaminsky replied: “Poems of Miron Białoszewski is the book I hope to one day hold in my hands.” And the new (#9) issue of the Brooklyn-based literary journal Aufgabe, which features a special section on Polish poetry and poetics edited by Mark Tardi, is a big step in that direction. The portfolio presents an ample selection of new translations of Białoszewski’s work as well as several previously published poems, along with a critical essay by critic Kacper Bartczak and work by younger Polish poets, including Ewa Chruściel, who might be considered inheritors of the Białoszewskian tradition of innovative, experimental poetry.


Ewa Chruściel has published two books of poems in Polish, Furkot (Flutter, 2003) and Sopilki (2009); a third book, Strata, is forthcoming in English. Her own poems and translations into English of Polish poetry have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies in Poland and the US, including Boston Review, Colorado Review, Lana Turner, and Rhino. She is a professor of Humanities at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire.

Corina Copp is the author of poetry volumes Play Air (2005), and Carpeted (2004), and plays “Ok (Office Killer)” (2008) and “A Week of Kindness” (2007), and she has recently published other work in Aufgabe, ON Contemporary Practice, and Denver Quarterly. She is pursuing an MFA in playwriting at Brooklyn College, where she works with Mac Wellman, and is Editor of The Poetry Project Newsletter.

Edwin Frank is Editor of the New York Review of Books Classics Series and a poetry editor of A Public Space. He edited Unknown Masterpieces: Writers Rediscover Literature’s Hidden Classics (2003).

Peter Gizzi’s books include The Outernationale (2007), Periplum and Other Poems, 1987–1992 (2004), Some Values of Landscape and Weather (2002), and Artificial Heart (1998). He founded and edited the journal o·blek (1987–1993) and recently co-edited The Collected Books of Jack Spicer (2008). He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at University of Massachusetts–Amherst and is Poetry Editor of The Nation.

Lisa Jarnot is the author of Night Scenes (2008), Iliad XXII: The Death of Hector (2006), Black Dog Songs (2003), Ring of Fire (2001), and Some Other Kind of Mission (1996), among other books. She is a past editor of the Poetry Project Newsletter, edited An Anthology of New (American) Poetry (2007), starred in the film The Time We Killed by Jennifer Todd Reeves, and lives and works in New York as a freelance horticulturalist.

Paolo Javier is the author of The Feeling is Actual (2010), Megton Gasgan Krakooom (2009), LMFAO (2008), 60 lv bo(e)mbs (2005) and the time at the end of this writing (2004). He has an MFA from Bard College, has taught at NYU and Miami University, and is the founding publisher of 2nd Avenue Poetry.

Joan Retallack is the author of Memnoir (2004), How To Do Things With Words (1998), Afterrimages (1995), and Errata 5uite (1994), among other books of poetry, as well as the critical study The Poethical Wager (2003), and the book of interviews Musicage: John Cage in Conversation with Joan Retallack. She teaches at Bard College, where she is the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Humanities at Bard College and Director Emerita of the Language and Thinking Program.

Joanna Nizynska is the author of the article “Impossibility of Shrugging One’s Shoulders: O’Harists, O’Hara, and Post-1989 Polish Poetry” (Slavic Review 66, 2007) and the book The Kingdom of Insignificance: The Traumatic, the Quotidian, and the Queer in the Prose of Miron Białoszewski (forthcoming). She is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages & Literatures at Harvard University.

Eugene Ostashevsky is the author of The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza (2008), Enter Morris Imposternak, Pursued by Ironies (2008), and Iterature (2005); editor of Oberiu: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism (2006); and translator from the Russian of poets Dmitry Golynko, Daniil Kharms, and Aleksandr Vvedensky and among others. He is a professor in the Liberal Studies Program at NYU.

This event is co-sponsored by the Polish Cultural Institute and Aufgabe.