Wisława Szymborska

Wisława Szymborska

Infobox Writer
name = Wisława Szymborska
awards = awd|Nobel Prize in Literature|1996

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birthdate = birth date and age|1923|07|02|mf=y
birthplace = Kórnik, Poland
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occupation = poet, essayist, translator
nationality = Polish
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Wisława Szymborska (pronounced|vʲisˈwava ʃɨmˈbɔrska, born July 2, 1923 in Kórnik, Poland) is a Polish poet, essayist and translator. She was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. In Poland, her books reach sales rivaling prominent prose authorsFact|date=February 2007—although she once remarked in a poem entitled "Some like poetry" ["Niektórzy lubią poezję"] that no more than two out of a thousand people care for the art. [http://www.poetseers.org/nobel_prize_for_literature/wislawa_szymborska/library/some_like_poetry/]

Szymborska frequently employs literary devices such as irony, paradox, contradiction, and understatement, to illuminate philosophical themes and obsessions. Szymborska's compact poems often conjure large existential puzzles, touching on issues of ethical import, and reflecting on the condition of people both as individuals and as members of human society. Szymborska's style is succinct and marked by introspection and wit.

Szymborska's reputation rests on a relatively small body of work: she has not published more than 250 poems to date. She is often described as modest to the point of shynessFact|date=February 2007. She has long been cherished by Polish literary contemporaries (including Czesław Miłosz) and her poetry has been set to music by Zbigniew Preisner. Szymborska became better known internationally after she was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize. Szymborska's work has been translated into many European languages, as well as into Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and Chinese.


In 1931, Szymborska's family moved to Kraków. She has been linked with this city, where she studied, worked, and still resides, ever since.

When World War II broke out in 1939, she continued her education in underground lessons. From 1943, she worked as a railroad employee and managed to avoid being deported to Germany as a forced labourer. It was during this time that her career as an artist began with illustrations for an English-language textbook. She also began writing stories and occasional poems.

Beginning in 1945, Szymborska took up studies of Polish language and literature before switching to sociology at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. There she soon became involved in the local writing scene, and met and was influenced by Czesław Miłosz. In March 1945, she published her first poem "Szukam słowa" ("I seek the word") in the daily paper "Dziennik Polski"; her poems continued to be published in various newspapers and periodicals for a number of years. In 1948 she quit her studies without a degree, due to her poor financial circumstances; the same year, she married poet Adam Włodek, whom she divorced in 1954. At that time, she was working as a secretary for an educational biweekly magazine as well as an illustrator.

During Stalinism in Poland in 1953 she has participated in defamation of Catholic priests from Kraków groundlessly condemned by Communists to death penalty. [Wojciech Czuchnowski "Blizna. Proces kurii krakowskiej 1953", Kraków 2003] Her first book was originally to be published in 1949, but did not pass censorship as it "did not meet socialist requirements." Like many other intellectuals in post-war Poland, however, Szymborska remained loyal to the PRL official ideology early in her career, signing political petitions and praising Stalin, Lenin and the realities of socialism. This attitude is seen in her debut collection "Dlatego żyjemy" ("That is what we are living for"), containing the poems "Lenin" and "Młodzieży budującej Nową Hutę" ("For the Youth that Builds Nowa Huta"), about the construction of a Stalinist industrial town near Kraków. She also became a member of the ruling Polish United Workers' Party.

Like many Polish intellectuals initially close to the official party line, Szymborska gradually grew estranged from socialist ideology and renounced her earlier political work. Although she did not officially leave the party until 1966, she began to establish contacts with dissidents. As early as 1957, she befriended Jerzy Giedroyc, the editor of the influential Paris-based emigré journal "Kultura", to which she also contributed. In 1964 she subscribed Communist backed protest to The Times against independent intellectuals, demanding freedom of speech. [ [http://prawy.pl/r2_index.php?dz=felietony&id=27894&subdz=11 Sebastian Pasławski Ludzie: "Wisława Szymborska Admiratorka Lenina i Stalina"] ]

In 1953, she joined the staff of the literary review magazine "Życie Literackie" ("Literary Life"), where she continued to work until 1981 and from 1968 ran her own book review column entitled "Lektury Nadobowiązkowe" ("Non-compulsory Reading"). Many of her essays from this period were later published in book form. From 1981 to 1983, Szymborska was an editor of the Kraków-based monthly Pismo. During the 1980s, she intensified her oppositional activities, contributing to the samizdat periodical "Arka" under the pseudonym "Stańczykówna", as well as to "Kultura" in Paris.

Szymborska has also translated French literature into Polish, in particular Baroque poetry and the works of Agrippa d'Aubigné.

In Germany, Szymborska is often associated with her translator Karl Dedecius, who did much to popularize her works there.

Prizes and awards

* 1954: The City of Cracow Prize for Literature
* 1963: The Polish Ministry of Culture Prize
* 1991: The Goethe Prize
* 1995: The Herder Prize
* 1995: Honorary Doctor of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań
* 1996: The Polish PEN Club prize
* 1996: Nobel Prize for Literature

Major works

* 1952: "Dlatego żyjemy" ("That's Why We Are Alive")
* 1954: "Pytania zadawane sobie" ("Questioning Yourself")
* 1957: "Wołanie do Yeti" ("Calling Out to Yeti")
* 1962: "Sól" ("Salt")
* 1966: "101 wierszy" ("101 Poems")
* 1967: "Sto pociech" ("No End of Fun")
* 1967: "Poezje wybrane" ("Selected Poetry")
* 1972: "Wszelki wypadek" ("Could Have")
* 1976: "Wielka liczba" ("A Large Number")
* 1986: "Ludzie na moście" ("People on the Bridge")
* 1989: "Poezje: Poems", bilingual Polish-English edition
* 1992: "Lektury nadobowiązkowe" ("Non-required Reading")
* 1993: "Koniec i początek" ("The End and the Beginning")
* 1996: "Widok z ziarnkiem piasku" ("View with a Grain of Sand")
* 1997: "Sto wierszy - sto pociech" ("100 Poems - 100 Happinesses")
* 2002: "Chwila" ("Moment")
* 2003: "Rymowanki dla dużych dzieci" ("Rhymes for Big Kids")
* 2005: "Dwukropek" ("Colon")


* 1998 Boston Review: "Poems - New and Collected 1957-1997" by Francis Padorr Brent [http://bostonreview.net/BR23.3/brent.html]

* 2006 The Christian Science Monitor: "A fascinating journey with two women poets" by Elizabeth Lund [http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0418/p13s01-bogn.html]

* 2006 Moondance magazine: "Stories/Poems. Plain and Simple. -- Mapping the Words of Wislawa Szymborska on Her Latest Book, Monologue of a Dog" by Lys Anzia [http://moondance.org/2006/winter2006/reviews/monologue.html]

* 2006 Sarmatian Review: "Wislawa Szymborska's 'Conversation With a Stone' -- An Interpretation" by Mary Ann Furno [http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/getdocument.aspx?logid=5&id=4c306c8e-7960-4a3f-992b-5bd900544f01]

* 2006 Words Without Borders: "Monologue of a Dog -- New Poems of Wislawa Szymborska" by W. Martin [http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/article.php?lab=MonologueReview]

External links

* [http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/1996/ Wislawa Szymborska] : Including biography and Nobel speech - NobelPrize.org
* [http://www.poetseers.org/nobel_prize_for_literature/wislawa_szymborska/library/ Poems of Wislawa Szymborska]
* [http://www.arlindo-correia.com/100901.html Wislawa Szymborska in translation]
* [http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/web/arts_culture/literature/poetry/szymborska/poems/link.shtml Wislawa Szymborska poems in English]
* [http://poems.lesdoigtsbleus.free.fr/id272.htm More translated Wislawa Szymborska poems]
* [http://www.erasmuspc.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=203&Itemid=81 Poems of Wislawa Szymborska in light projections by artist Jenny Holzer in London]
* [http://www.technion.ac.il/~gever/ttruelovee.pdf Wislawa Szymborska's "True Love"] in Poem for Rent project.
* [http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-9380081/Wislawa-Szymborska Enciclopædia Britannica article about Szymborska]

ee also

* Polish poets

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