Untold Histories

The poem is not flammable.
Fire is not a poem.
They gravitate towards each other in separate histories
that, once told, are no longer free.
They sail like shreds of clouds across a paper sky:
amber rosewood fig

Nieopowiedziane Historie

Wiersz nie jest łatwopalny.
Ogień nie jest wierszem.
Ciążą ku sobie w osobnych historiach,
które, raz opowiedziane, nigdy nie są wolne,
przepływają jak strzępy obłoków po papierowym niebie:
bursztyn rozeta figowiec

by Jacek Gutorow, trans. by Piotr Florczyk

This poem is copyright © Jacek Gutorow, 2021, translated by Piotr Florczyk, and is reprinted here from Invisible (Arc Publications, 2021) by permission of Arc. You can read more about the book on the Arc website.

Notes from Mark Ford, who has written an introduction to Gutorow’s book, Invisible

Invisible is a teasing title for a collection of poetry. [Wallace] Stevens, with whose work Jacek Gutorow has a deep and sustained engagement, suggested in ‘The Creations of Sound’, that poems should “make the visible a little hard / To see”. […] Both Gutorow and Stevens develop a poetic medium that maintains an oscillating dialectic between the seen and the unseen. The invisible operates not as an occlusion of reality, but as an aura saturating what is described; images are gently prised from the contexts of time and place and invested with a mysterious in-between life…’

Invisible was selected by the Poetry Book Society as its Translation Choice for Autumn 2021. You can buy a copy on the Arc website.

Jacek Gutorow was born near Opole (Poland) in 1970. He has published eight volumes of poetry, six collections of critical essays, a monograph on Wallace Stevens and a fake diary. His translations include Wallace Stevens, John Ashbery, Charles Tomlinson, Mark Ford and Simon Armitage. He teaches American literature at the University of Opole and edits Explorations. A Journal of Language and Literature. You can read more about Jacek’s work on the European Writers website and via Culture.pl (in Polish, unless you make use of Google Translate or other online translation!).

Founded in 1969, Arc Publications publishes contemporary poetry from new and established writers from the UK and abroad, specialising in the work of international poets writing in English, and the work of overseas poets in translation. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. To learn more about Arc and to see its range of titles, visit the publisher’s website. You can also find Arc on Facebook and on Twitter.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.