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More Szymborska

In response to:

The Revenge of the Mortal Hand from the October 21, 1982 issue

To the Editors:

In his fine review of Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wislawa Szymborska [NYR, October 21], Jaroslaw Anders states that this volume, printed by the Princeton University Press, is “the only presentation of this major poet’s work in English.”…We would like to inform him, you, and your readers that roughly at the same time, and unknown to each other, the Quarterly Review of Literature also published a volume of Szymborska’s work. Since the QRL‘s selection, with a poet among its translators, approaches the poems rather differently from the Princeton University Press’s volume and since it presents a number of the same poems as well as many other poems, the QRL book provides an interesting comparison and another view of Szymborska’s splendid work. The QRL volume can be obtained at better bookstores or directly from QRL, 26 Haslet Avenue, Princeton, New Jersey 08540 at $10 a copy.

Theodore and Renee Weiss

Quarterly Review of Literature

Princeton, New Jersey

Jaroslaw Anders replies:

I stand corrected. The presentation of Wislawa Szymborska’s poetry in Quarterly Review of Literature, Poetry Series IV edited by Theodore and Renee Weiss should not go unnnoticed, and I can only regret that I did not know it while writing my review. The volume contains forty poems, sixteen of which were not included in the Krynski/Maguire book. Its translators, Grazyna Drabik, Austin Flint, and Sharon Olds approached their task differently, searching for an idiom and rhythm closer to the style of contemporary poetry in English. Their effort results, in most cases, in work of remarkable poetic integrity and clarity,and manages to cast light on aspects of Szymborska’s poetry that are different from those rendered in Magnus Krynski and Robert Maguire’s translation. The simultaneous publication of two comprehensive collections of poems by Wislawa Szymborska in two independent translations is in itself an interesting and significant event, and I am grateful to Theodore and Renee Weiss for calling attention to their book.

When speaking about the scarcity of presentations of Wislawa Szymborska’swork in English I meant, of course, major presentations, like those in the Princeton University Press volume and in Quarterly Review of Literature.Smallerselections and separate poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines both in America and in England. Some poems may therefore exist in several English versions.

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