This essay explores a body of 340 poems created by political prisoners who were accused of and imprisoned for anti-state activity in late 1940s and 1950s Stalinist Poland. Evaluating prison poetry as a historical source, I understand the process of composing a poem as the result of a prisoner’s need to document the world around her/himself, as a psychological activity that contained diffi cult prison experiences, as a negotiation of emotional and often conflicting states, and as a social practice through which prison poets affected themselves and the people around them. Situated somewhere at the intersection of the personal and political, poetry became one of the most powerful sites of resistance. In addition to evaluating prison poetry as a historical source, this essay also explores gender differences and similarities in the body of 340 poems discussed here and in the social function of the prison poems.
The Poetry of Male and Female Political Prisoners in Postwar Poland
The Complete Poems of William Empson edited by John Haffenden (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2000) ISBN 0713992875 £30.00
Norman Cameron: His Life, Work and Letters by Warren Hope (London: Greenwich Exchange, 2000) ISBN 187155105 6 £20.00
Antony Rowland and Tadeusz Pióro
Tadeusz Borowski’s poetry is virtually unknown in Britain and America, despite the fact that the Polish writer was a poet long before he wrote his controversial stories about his experiences in Auschwitz–Birkenau and Dachau. These stories, a selection of which appear in Penguin’s This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, ensured his canonical status in twentieth-century European literature. Yet only three Borowski poems are readily available in English translations: ‘Night over Birkenau’, ‘The Sun of Auschwitz’ and ‘Farewell to Maria’ are printed in Hilda Schiff’s anthology Holocaust Poetry. A few more appear in the English translation of Adam Zych’s anthology The Auschwitz Poems,3 but this edition is currently out of print.
Life as It Comes by Anthony Edkins (Bradford: Redbeck Press, 2002) ISBN 0946980969 £6.95
The Soldier on the Pier by Brian Waltham (Calstock: Peterloo Poets, 2002) ISBN 1871471990 £7.95
Craeft: Poems from the Anglo-Saxon by Graham Holderness (Nottingham: Shoestring Press, 2002) ISBN 1899549676 £7.50
The Great Friend and Other Translated Poems by Peter Robinson (Tonbridge: Worple Press, 2002) ISBN 095394774 £8
Aemilia Bassano Lanier was partially of Jewish origin and came from a Venetian family of court musicians. She was brought up in the court and was educated by Countess Susan Bertie and the Duchess of Suffolk. Her work entitled Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum is a long narrative poem articulating a woman-centred account of the Bible. As a woman of partial Jewish descent, Aemilia, who has ‘a voice of her own’, deals with the maltreatment of women and compares them to Christ in their silent suffering. At her time, women were often expected to be silent within society, creating an absence rooted in their lack of voice. Both Christ and women sacrifice themselves for the betterment of mankind. This article will deal with Aemilia Lanier’s new perspective upon biblical women and the Passion of Christ as reflected in Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum.
In Memory of Dr Jacqueline Kirk (1968-2008)
Poem by Charlotte Hussey
A poem by Amanda Buffalo
A poem by Tim Cresswell
Tomaz Šalamun, Pia Tafdrup and Yehoshua November
6 poems from Tarkovsky's Horses (2006)
Walking Already I Feel Like an Old Man
George Dundas, Roger Craik and John Lucas
Leros Summer 1939 GEORGE DUNDAS
Friday Night De Toog Eetcafe, Amsterdam ROGER CRAIK
Found Poem Thorn Gruin’s Sorrowful Sonnet JOHN LUCAS