True Life: A Celebration of Poet Adam Zagajewski

Event details

“The Polish poet Adam Zagajewski’s great poem “To Go to Lvov” has a special importance for many young poets in different languages. That poem weaves the historical and the personal, the rhythms of cataclysm and of ordinary life, loss and persistence, all embodied in Zagajewski’s native city.”

— Read Robert Pinsky’s full review of True Life in the New York Times

SPECIAL EVENT: Music and Poetry | Joint presentation of DACAMERA and Inprint
TRUE LIFE:  A CELEBRATION OF POET ADAM ZAGAJEWSKI

Sarah Rothenberg, piano; Sonia Wieder-Atherton, cello
Special guest: Edward Hirsch, poet
Music of Bach, Chopin, Shostakovich, Schubert and Mahler

DACAMERA and Inprint join forces in this heartfelt celebration of the life and work of Polish poet Adam Zagajewski (1945-2021), prize-winning writer of international renown.  Through his insightful and quietly radiant poems, Zagajewski acquired loyal readers around the world; and as a member of the UH Creative Writing Program faculty, journeying to Houston from Paris and later Krakow every spring for 18 years, he leaves a vibrant legacy of friends, students, and colleagues across the U.S.

Pianist Sarah Rothenberg and cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton interweave the music that inspired many of Zagajewski’s poems with readings of his luminous poetry.  Readers will include celebrated poet and author Edward Hirsch, president of the Guggenheim Foundation; Rich Levy, executive director of Inprint; and community leader and friend, Lillie Robertson.  The publication in 2023 of Zagajewski’s last collection, True Life, offers us the occasion to discover new poems from this “indispensable” poet whose work celebrates “those rare moments when we catch a glimpse of the world from which all labels have been unpeeled…” (Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books).

BOOK SALE INFORMATION

Our partners at Brazos Bookstore are offering a 10% discount on True Life by Adam Zagajewski. To receive the discount, buy your copy at brazosbookstore.com from now through March 2 using the coupon code INPRINT.

ABOUT ADAM ZAGAJEWSKI

Adam Zagajewski was one of Poland’s most famous contemporary poets, and was a prominent member of the Polish New Wave. He published eight poetry collections in English, including Asymmetry, Eternal Enemies, Without End, and Mysticism for Beginners. Translated around the world, Zagajewski received many of literature’s most prestigious international awards, such as the 2004 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the 2010 European Poetry Prize, and the 2013 Zhongkun International Poetry Prize. Through his insightful and quietly radiant poems, Zagajewski acquired loyal readers around the world; and as a member of the UH Creative Writing Program faculty for eighteen years and faculty member of the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, he leaves a vibrant legacy of friends, students, and colleagues across the U.S.

An English-language translation of Zagajewski’s last collection True Life will be published this month by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. (The original Polish collection was published in 2019.) About this forthcoming edition, Publisher’s Weekly writes in a starred review, “While devastating truths anchor the reader to a foreclosed present, there is evidence of hope in beauty. This is a remarkable collection by one of the century’s finest poets.” Reviewing two earlier collections, Charles Simic in The New York Review of Books observes that Zagajewski’s poems “celebrate those rare moments when we catch a glimpse of the world from which all labels have been unpeeled.” In the words of Mary Oliver, Zagajewski is “the most pertinent, impressive, meaningful poet of our time.”

In an essay titled Poetry and Music for the UK literary journal PN Review, Sarah Rothenberg wrote: “Music has always been central to Adam Zagajewski’s writing… Not being a musician himself, [he] is free to wander in music’s mysteries, culling from the works of Schubert, Mahler, Shostakovich, a seed that becomes a poem. Capturing in the listener’s experience a sensation that is unique to music, that is free from the connotations of spoken language and exists in its own realm… Adam’s sensitivity as a listener opens up unknown worlds to him that he then reflects back to us in words. He recently wrote, ‘Music reminds us what love is. If you’ve forgotten what love is, go listen to music.'”

Try to Praise the Mutilated World

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Adam Zagajewski, “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” from Without End: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Adam Zagajewski. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

“the most pertinent, impressive, meaningful poet of our time” — Mary Oliver

“wise and luminous” — Susan Sontag

“Zagajewski’s poems pull us from whatever routine threatens to dull our sense, from whatever might lull us into mere existence.” — Philip Boehm, The New York Times Book Review

ATTENTION UHCWP STUDENTS AND ALUMNI

Students and alumni of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program are invited to attend the celebration as guests of DACAMERA. Look for an email invitation from Inprint or contact Inprint at info@inprinthouston.org.

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