|Adam Zagajewski and Franz Wright rank among the most influential poets currently at work.|
"the preeminent Polish poet of his generation"
- The New Republic
February 27, 2003
4:15 p.m. Informal Seminar
Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC
UAlbany, Uptown Campus
"Franz Wright's poetry is among the most honest, haunting, and human
being written today."
- Boston Review
Poet Adam Zagajewski was one of the major figures of the Polish New Wave literary movement of the early 1970s and of the anti-Communist Solidarity movement of the 1980s. Since 1982, he has lived in exile in Paris and currently teaches each spring at the University of Houston in Texas. Zagajewski enjoys a wide international readership and his poetry survives translation with unusual power. His books are available in most European languages.
Zagajewski was born in Lvov in 1945, a largely Polish city that became a part of the Soviet Ukraine shortly after his birth. His ethnic Polish family, which had lived for centuries in Lvov, was forcibly repatriated to Poland. In his memoir, Another Beauty (2000), Zagajewski writes about growing up in a country "as dreary as the barracks" and documents the artistic and political ferment that occurred in Poland during his youth. The reviewer for Booklist called it an "elegant scrapbook" and said, "Full of pithy and compelling observations on art and society, of luminous descriptions of Krakow and Paris. . .this is a book to be read once through and returned to often, wherever one happens to open it or in search of a particularly passage or statement."
Zagajewski's most recent book in English is Without End: New and Selected Poems (2002). The collection, which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, features a rich and varied sample of his work from the 1970s to the present.
Zagajewski's other collections of poetry available in English include Mysticism for Beginners (1999), Canvas (1991) and Tremor: Selected Poems (1985). He is also the author of a book of essays and literary sketches, Two Cities: On Exile, History and the Imagination (1995), and of Solidarity, Solitude: Essays."
Franz Wright's poetry is often dark, spare and preoccupied with abuse and alcohol addiction. "Never has any poet, anywhere, been so dark-minded and at the same time so almost playful, so childlike about it all," said Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Donald Justice. The son of prominent American poet James Wright, Franz Wright began composing poems in his early teens. His father responded to his first poems with a letter that began,
"I'll be damned. You're a poet. Welcome to hell."
Wright's latest collection, The Beforelife (2001), has been described by The Library Journals as Intriguing and always accessible. . .this book will expand the audience for poetry by showing readers that, in spite of stunning obstacles, it is always possible to live." In The Before, Wright journeys from the world that lies between madness and sanity, addiction and recovery, from a place of isolation and wordlessness to health in a state of skeptical rapture. Kirkus Reviews notes that "In these short meditations of anguish and hope, Wright achieves the clarity of seeing hard won wisdom." The Beforelife won the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.
Wright has published more than a dozen books, including Ill Lit: Selected and New Poems (1998), The Night World and the Word Night (1992), And Still the Hand Will Sleep in Its Glass Ship (1990), and Entry in an Unknown Hand (1989). Wright has also published four books in translation of poetry by Rainer Marie Rilke, Erica Pedretti and Rene Char. His most recent is The Unknown Rilke: Expanded Edition (1991).
Writers Online Magazine (Zagajewski)|
Writers Online Magazine (Wright)