Poet Robert Pinsky has reviewed poet Adam Zagaewski’s new posthumous collection True Life for The New York Times. Zagajewski will be celebrated on Monday, February 27 at the Menil Collection in an event featuring pianist Sarah Rothenberg, special guest poet Edward Hirsch and others.
“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. “To Go to Lvov” has provided a model—intensely local, adamantly not nationalistic—for poems rooted in Philadelphia, Buenos Aires and Lahore. The Polish pronunciation and spelling Lvov has been replaced by the Ukrainian Lviv, and behind it the linguistic and cultural echoes of Lwow and Lemberg, in an involved, blood-determined pageant of related but different names for the place. That ongoing story makes Zagajewski’s poem of shared, discordant layers of loss and persistence feel all the more poignant, and the more urgently relevant, since the invasion of Ukraine by the Putin regime, with its war crimes against an entire population. When Zagajewski was a child, his Polish family was expelled from his birthplace by the Kremlin of Putin’s predecessors. The poet died in March 2021, a couple of years after the publication of True Life in Polish, and a year before the Russian invasion. His work, resembling Lviv in its multiple, interpenetrating layers of memory, remains an international model.”