The second day of Ryszard Krynicki’s jubilee began with a meeting with people who usually stay invisible, but without whom the author is invisible (in foreign countries). Participants of the meeting hosted by Magda Heydel included translators of Ryszard Krynicki’s poetry into foreign languages: Italian (Francesca Fornari), English (Clare Cavanagh), German (Renate Schmidgall), Russian (Anatol Roitman), Spanish and Catalan (Abel Murcia Soriano and Xavier Farré Vidal).
A discussion on translation ought to start with what translation really is. Each guest had their own opinion: for Renate Schmidgall, it is writing someone else’s texts, for Xavier Farré, it is a way to expand one’s culture by introducing voices which are absent in it, for Franceska Fornari, it is a profound exegesis of the original text, while for Abel Murcia Soriano, it is a meeting place – not only with the foreign, but also with the domestic. Anatol Roitman, on the other hand, referred to the panel’s title and claimed that, for him, translation is the air he breathes. But the air was not the only element to be discussed. Because language is also an element – not the kind of an element that the translator fights with. The kind that he submits himself to.
The translators also told about how they came across Krynicki’s work for the first time. Clare Cavanagh admitted that she red it for the first time when she was in college. She did not understand much back then, because she had only started to learn Polish – but she already felt that there is magic and mystery in these poems. And keeping this magic there is the greatest challenge. Because the translator does not change anything by changing everything.
The next meeting, participated by Ryszard Krynicki, Marian Stala and Paweł Próchniak, was devoted to a book-intention that is Haiku, the poet’s new project which is only in the planning stage right now. It became a starting point for a tale of Polish culture meeting Polish culture, which is not an entirely new phenomenon. As Professor Stala explained, it started with a meeting of the Young Poland movement with Japanese culture, which covered three areas: woodcut, theatre and – to the smallest extent – literature. Because Ryszard Krynicki, as he admitted once himself, is the “last poet of Young Poland”, his story was similar: it started with woodcuts which fascinate him invariably. Then, he got interested in single translations of haiku and wrote some love poems in this style, but they are – fortunately, as he claims – lost. Later, he tried to avoid the haiku style. It was mainly because it became fashionable in Poland (the trend was started by Czesław Miłosz in 1990s and was such a strong one that Marian Stala, as the editor of the culture section in Tygodnik Powszechny, received several hundred haikus from an author who claimed to have another eighteen hundred more, all based on biblical themes). For Ryszard Krynicki, writing haiku is an extremely embarrassing and private thing.
The meeting could not go without reading some haiku out loud – the presented poems were written both by Krynicki’s masters, Bashō and Issa, as well as by Krynicki himself.
The last of yesterday’s meetings was not so much a discussion panel, as a chat between two friends, one of which is a public person, the other ― a private one: Adam Michnik and Ryszard Krynicki. The year 1968 was a starting point for a discussion on the relation of poetry and politics. And although both gentlemen represent two different worlds, they agree on one thing: the New Wave poetry was poetry of moral anxiety, an expression of solidarity with people persecuted by the authorities, a testimony of the generation’s emotions. Poets – including Ryszard Krynicki, Adam Zagajewski, Stanisław Barańczak, Ewa Lipska, among others – could put into words things that young revolting people were unable to verbalize. This, however, was not political poetry, because the poets were not involved in politics – their work only played an important political role because it polemicized with the language used by the authorities and defended its own poetics. Nowadays, poetry does not have to do that. Of course, political poems come up every now and then, but according to Ryszard Krynicki, commenting on politics is not a task for poetry nowadays – it is up to the free mass media. Adam Michnik beautifully summarized the end of the discussion, which was devoted to reading poems within political context: As far as natural resources are concerned, we do not have any gold nor oil, but what we have is outstanding poets.
The final day of Ryszard Krynicki’s jubilee is still ahead of us. What better way to celebrate poetry than by reading poems? A poetry evening will take place at 5 p.m. at the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology (ul. M. Konopnickiej 26), with the participation of: Marcin Baran, Wojciech Bonowicz, Julia Hartwig, Jerzy Kronhold, Ryszard Krynicki, Ewa Lipska, Bronisław Maj, Leszek Aleksander Moczulski, Marcin Sendecki, Krzysztof Siwczyk, Andrzej Sosnowski, Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki and Adam Zagajewski. The meeting will be hosted by Adam Michnik and Paweł Próchniak
Be there with us to admire and honour the poet!
Pic. Max Bruno Pflegel