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by Julia Hartwig

translated from the Polish by John and Bogdana Carpenter

I depend on the sentence A stop that seeks form
orderly and modest like everyday speech
Everything in me awaits the moment when a shape
encloses shapelessness where it was suspended
I suffer gently but persistently the pain of uncertainty
the dissolution of feelings and thoughts in which I live
like in a diluted space

It doesn’t hinder me from admiring the linden branches
spread wide behind the window a screech of a magpie
annoying and blessed because it exists
it doesn’t hinder me from taking in the heat
of this dry and tragic summer
But a sentence a reliable sentence
restores under my feet the firm earth


Julia Hartwig occupies a prominent place in the Polish literary landscape. She has been awarded numerous prizes in Poland, France, and the United States, including the Jurzykowski Prize and the Thornton Wilder Prize from the Translation Center at Columbia University, and the Austrian Georg Trakl Prize for poetry. Hartwig has translated many American poets into Polish. She has also translated poetry by Apollinaire, Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Cendrars, Supervielle, and Henri Michaux, and published studies of Apollinaire and Gerard de Nerval.

John Carpenter is a poet and critic. Bogdana Carpenter is a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, currently chair of the Slavic Department. They have translated many volumes of the writer Zbigniew Herbert, among other works; they are preparing a collection of Julia Hartwig’s poetry with the working title In Praise of the Unfinished. (10/2006)

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