maintenant #97 – tadeusz różewicz

A poet who changed the face of twentieth century poetry, Tadeusz Różewicz is a giant of Polish literature and undoubtedly one of the most important poets the country has ever produced. Still writing in his 91st year, his lifetime engagement with groundbreaking poetry, fiction and plays has spanned, and often encapsulated, the seismic tumult of the past century in his home nation. His poetic is the rarest of things, an anti-art that resides still within the realm of the explicable, and the ethical, striding between the utterly personal and the political – often brutal in its beauty and intensity, it is an aesthetic that is wholly his own, unique and unwavering. His first poems were published in 1938, before he served in the Polish underground home army in WWII. His brother, Janusz, also a poet, was executed by the Gestapo. This desolate chapter in our collective European history produced few artists and writers able to even begin to make sense of such destruction, but the eruption of poetry and dramaturgy that followed the war experiences of Tadeusz Różewicz has set him aside as one of the most respected innovators and stylists in modern European history. In the decades since the war he has continued to produce extraordinary literature, winning the Nike prize, the Griffin prize and the European literature prize, and now, on the eve of a brand new translation, into English, of his work ‘Mother Departs‘ by Stork Press, we are proud to elevate the Maintenant series with the inclusion of Tadeusz Różewicz, our 97th poet.

Far and away this is the edition of Maintenant I am most proud of, Różewicz's work being so fundamental in the beginnings of my own. I want to thank and acknowledge the tireless work of Joanna Zgadzaj for making this interview possible, and draw attention to the extraordinary celebration of Różewicz's work and life that happened last Saturday evening at the Southbank centre, as part of their literature festival, and for the launch of the brand new translation mentioned above. Here is a podcast the Polish institute produced about the event I was so sad to miss, being in Norwich, finishing off the EVP tour