‘the is of the silence in the room’

the is of the silence in the room
the is of the walls, each so different
the is of the sunshine on the curtain
the greying is of the dust
through the thin is of the glass
the is of the sparrow outside the window
the is of the child on the grass, chasing a butterfly
the is of the butterfly in the net
the floating is of the cloud

and once again: I am

in this vast
circular spherical nobody’s
agape virulent scorching
grass-strong swift-winged quick-legged
dripping rabid

by Krystyna Miłobędzka; translated by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese

the is of the silence in the room’ is copyright © Krystyna Miłobędzka; translated by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese, 2013. It is reprinted from Nothing More by Krystyna Miłobędzka, published by Arc Publications (2013).

This poem continues our series featuring work from collections shortlisted for The Poetry Society’s Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize 2015, judged by Olivia McCannon and Clare Pollard, and supported in 2015 by the British Council. The winner of the competition was Iain Galbraith, who translated Jan Wagner’s book Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees (Arc Publications, 2015). You can find out more about the competition and all the shortlisted books on the Poetry Society website.

Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese writes between English, Polish and Danish; her multilingual texts have appeared in such journals as ShearsmanCordite Poetry ReviewModern Poetry in Translation, on the London Underground and in anthologies. She has published numerous translated collections including Nothing More (Arc, 2013), her selection from Krystyna Miłobędzka, and Salt Monody (Zephyr Press, 2006) by Marzanna Kielar. She has co-edited Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird: Poetry from Poland (Zephyr Press, 2004), guest-edited Polish issues of Poetry Wales and Modern Poetry in Translation, and is a contributing editor at Poetry Wales, where she regularly reviews translated books. She teaches poetry-in-translation courses for the Poetry School in London and works at the Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use, University of Copenhagen. Arc’s website features three essays by Wójcik-Leese about her translations of Miłobędzka’s poetry.

Krystyna Miłobędzka was born in Margonin, Poland, in 1932. She is an author of twelve books of poetry, including a collected poems, Zbierane1960-2005 (Gathered 1960-2005), which appeared in 2006, and zbierane, gubione (gathered, lost) in 2010. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, was nominated for the NIKE Prize in 2006, and won the Silesius Award in 2009, and again in 2013 for Lifetime Achievement. She lives in Puszczykowo near Poznań. You can find out more about Nothing More on the Arc website.

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