Three Untitled Poems by Artur Nowaczewski, translated from the Polish by Daniel Bourne with art-poem by Wojciech Kołyszko 


Your own sight outruns you, racing down the steep street
into the neighborhood, sinking into the meander of courtyards,|
the small windows of basements, the first rows of garages, the roots
of the city lost somewhere in the cubbyholes of coal, the old
banana bikes, old sleds with broken runners.  You walk
along Poplar, our September this year so auburn-haired, the autumn
soon covered with snow like an undeclared love
hidden in an old notebook filled with poems, the masculine rhymes written
in high school.  And we?  Who are we to become now? the posthumous
children of the green?  the next cortege for the poplars and their shadows?

it might seem
I poke this stick into the water
as if I want to make the Vistula
flow backwards— but in reality
I am saving a drowning ant
too small to see there in the photo

This kid with the untied shoestring I abandoned at the corner
of Batorego and Polish Mother, he is reading something there,
looking off into the clouds. Every kid in sight, the big, the small,
suddenly break into motion, all the boys in that place
who once lived there in me. Trampling up the neighborhood
this scattered little army.  But those who hope in the Lord will
renew their strength, soar on wings like eagles— they will run
and not grow weary, walk and not be faint.  But those of the body
will die with their bodies, those who are of the spirit shall never lose
their hope. They will hear the rush of wind and their name of Arthur, and though
each will be afraid, the Spirit will move forth inside their hearts and start
to sweep away the leaves—the dry speckles of silence, the first sproutings of storm.


twoj wzrok — on cie wyprzedza — stroma ulica zbiega
w dzielnice, wpada w zalomy podworek, okienka
piwnic, pierwszy krag garazy; poczatki miasta gina
gdies tam w komorkach wegielnych spia rowery
wigry, stare sanki z nadlamana ploza. idziesz
Topolowa. rudy byl nasz wrzesien — niewyznana
milosc snieg przykryze tamta jesien zaraz sie
nia zajmie stary brulion z wierszami, meskie rymy
licealne. a my? kim bedziemy taraz? pogrobowcami
zielini? kolejnym konductem topolowych cieni?

to tylko tak wyglada
ze wkladam kij do wody
jakbym chcial zawrocic
Wisle w rzeczywistosci
ratuje tonaca mrowke
ktorej nie widac na zdjeciu

ten chlopiec z rozwiazanym sznurowadlem, ktorego
zostawilem na rogu Batorego i Matki Polki, cos tam
przeczuwa kiedy patrzy w chmury. zrywaja sie wiec
do biegu wszyscy chlopcy mali i duzi, wszyscy ktorzy

tylko kiedys byli we mnie: tructhem rozbiegaja sie
po dzielnicy kroki tej sploszonej armii. ci co zaufali
Panu, odzyskuja sily, otrzymuja skrzydla jak orly:
biegna bez zmeczenia, bez znuzenia ida. ci co sa z cia

umieraja w cialach, ci co sa z Ducha, nie traca
nadziei — slysza szum wiatru a imie ich Artur i choc
kazdy sie boi, Duch puka do ich serc i wymiata stamtad
liscie — suche cetki ciszy, pierwsze pratki burzy



Artur Nowaczewski, born in 1978 in Gdańsk, teaches at the University of Gdańsk in the Institute of Polish Philology. He has published three collections of poems, Commodore 64, Elegia dla Iana Curtis [Elegy for Ian Curtis] and Kutabuk, along with two memoirs, Hostel Nomadów [The Hostel of Nomads], a finalist for the prestigious Angelus Prize for Central European writing, and Dwa lata w Phenianie [Two Years in Pyongyang], about North Korea, 1989-1991, where he attended a Soviet middle school at the very end of the Communist era in Poland. He is also the author of two books of literary criticism, Trzy miasta trzy pokolenia (Three Cities Three Generations) and Szlifibruki I flâneurzy (Loafers and Flâneurs). Other translations of his poetry by Daniel Bourne appear in Chattahoochee Review, Lake Effect, and the U.K. on-line journal The High Window.

Daniel Bourne’s books of poetry include The Household Gods and Where No One Spoke the Language, and his poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Another Chicago Magazine, Ploughshares, GuernicaAmerican Poetry Review, and Field. Since 1980 he has lived in Poland off and on, including in 1985-87 on a Fulbright fellowship for translation and, most recently, in Fall 2018. His translations of Polish poets have appeared in such journals as Field, Salmagundi, Shenandoah, Partisan Review, Colorado Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. He has also recently received a fellowship from the Polish Ministry of Culture for work on a translation of a novel, The Month Between the Hammer and the Sickle, by Polish writer Stanisław Esden-Tempski, whose poetry in translation he has previously published in ACM.

Wojciech Kołyszko is a noted Polish book-illustrator and visual artist. Twice he was awarded the Polish Association of Book Publishers Award for the best artbook of the year, and his book covers include separate illustrations for the Polish and English versions of Nobel Laureate Czesław Miłosz’s 1996 collection of poetry, Nad brzegiem rzeki (Facing the River, translated into English by Miłosz and Robert Hass). More recently, he has concentrated on publishing a wide range of art books, interactive computer texts, and books for children, emerging as a pioneer in terms of interactive nature and art education. Since 2003, he has lived on the Island of Sobieszewo on the Baltic Coast just to the east of Gdansk. In the U.S., his artwork has appeared in Artful Dodge and in a poetry/visual art collaboration with Daniel Bourne, “A Deep Map of Sobieszewo Island,” that appeared on the Portland Review’s website in January 2019.