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Grzegorz Wróblewski: Two poems

This piece is about 2 printed pages long.
It is copyright © Grzegorz Wróblewski and Jacket magazine 2007.


At first I wanted to write you that Charlie Parker
Today sounded sentimental and bitter.
But it’s not true! His Dewey Square cheered me up
like it used to and I decided
to make friends with the natives again...
I called Hall and then went out
and bought 20 effervescent chemist’s tablets
(the ones with the wonderful lemon taste!).
On the bed I spotted a man wearing
shabby shoes well-known to me.
He had a shapeless face, contorted with pain.

(Translated from the Polish by Adam Zdrodowski)

Jesse Owens and Luz Long

Jesse Owens and Luz Long (Berlin 1936): The long jump.
Valkyries hold their breath... Jesse Owens–two offside
calls. Luz Long (he qualified) advises Owens
to shorten the run-up by one foot. (The Leader sees everything.)
Owens’ third jump. Luz Long was right. Jesse Owens
qualifies for the finals at the last moment. The final: Gold medal
for Owens, silver for Long... An uncomfortable friendship.
(The Leader sees everything.)

Red-hot (1939) Libyan desert.
Long writes a farewell letter to Owens. Tell about it
in detail to my son Karl, he begs him.
In 1960 (The Leader has been in Hell for 15 years) Owens meets
Karl Long in Germany and complies with Luz’s request. Then
Karl’s wedding. Karl asks Owens to be his best man.
(Valkyries hold their breath.) Jesse Owens immediately
gives his assent.

(Translated from the Polish by Adam Zdrodowski)

Grzegorz Wróblewski was born in 1962 in Gdansk and grew up in Warsaw, Poland. Since 1985 he has lived in Copenhagen. He has published seven volumes of poetry and a collection of short prose pieces in Poland, three books of poetry, a book of poetic prose and an experimental novel (translations) in Denmark, and selected poems in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Mostar 2002). He has also published a selection of plays. His work has been translated into five languages. English translations of his poems have appeared in London Magazine, Poetry London, Magma Poetry, Parameter Magazine, Poetry Wales, The Delinquent, Chicago Review, 3rd bed, Eclectica, Mississippi Review, Absinthe, Practice: New Writing + Art, Common Knowledge, Jacket Magazine, and in anthologies: Altered State: The New Polish Poetry (Arc Publications, Todmorden, UK 2003), Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird (Zephyr Press, Brookline, USA 2004),A Generation Defining Itself–In Our Own Words Vol. 7 (MW Enterprises, USA 2007) Selected poems Our Flying Objects (Equipage Press, Cambridge, UK 2007).

Adam Zdrodowski, born in 1979, poet and translator, is preparing his PhD on Elizabeth Bishop. His translations include Lifting Belly by Gertrude Stein and poems by Mark Ford. His poems have appeared in: Odra, Dwukropek and Dziennik portowy. His first collection of poems is entitled Przygody, etc. [Adventures, etc.] and has been published in Wrocław (2005). He lives in Warsaw.

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