Alissa Valles is the author of the poetry books Orphan Fire (2008) and Anastylosis (2014), the editor and co-translator of Zbigniew Herbert’s The Collected Poems and The Collected Prose, and, most recently, the translator of Anna Bikont’s The Crime and the Silence: Confronting the Massacre of Jews in Wartime Jedwabne (2015) and Ryszard Krynicki’s Our Life Grows (2017). (March 2018)


From An Unwritten Theory of Dreams

The torturers sleep soundly their dreams are rosy
good-natured genocides—foreign and home-grown
already forgiven by brief human memory
a gentle breeze turns the pages of family albums
the windows of the house open to August the shade of an apple-tree in bloom

The End

And from now on I won’t be there in any group picture (proud proof of my death in the world’s book reviews) when someone says look see—that’s Zbyszek—pointing to a man struggling with a suitcase—it isn’t me no it’s someone who’s not even in the same …


Scrubbing Poland’s Complicated Past

A worker cleaning a monument to the victims of the 1941 Jedwabne pogrom after it was defaced by neo-Nazis, Poland, 2011

There is nothing so reminiscent of Communist-era censorship culture as the coercive, patronizing ideological commentaries with which cultural officials of the Law and Justice party have in the last few years been responding to books, plays, and films related to the Holocaust. Among their crude moves to establish ideological control at home and flout opinion in the West is a recently passed an amended law criminalizing claims that the Poles were complicit in or jointly responsible for the Nazis’ persecutions of Polish Jews.