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23 July
2013

Writing a poem is like falling in love

Writing poems somewhat resembles making tea. These two first lines are like brew to which water must be added: there are more images, crystallized thoughts in them. And they all revolve around what was in the beginning. But water must be boiling hot ‒ Adam Zagajewski says in Milena Rachid Chehab’s interview published in the weekend edition of Gazeta Wyborcza.

GW: Is it possible to speed it up somehow?

AZ: If you drink a lot of tea…

GW: Is being a poet a profession?

AZ: No, it isn’t. The phenomenon of poetry exists outside the market, poetry collections aren’t goods, a poet isn’t a specialist. In some countries, in Spain for instance, there are poetry bestseller lists, but they are rather symbolic. I have happened to be on such a list, which doesn’t mean I became a wealthy man. It came to mind then that your name is on a bestseller list if you sell more than ten copies.

GW: What do you write then when you need to fill in ‘profession’ on a form?

AZ: Poets usually don’t admit they are ones. I can always write ‘academic teacher’ because I earn my living by running classes at the University of Chicago after all. W.H. Auden used to tell how someone on a plane had asked him about his job and he replied he was an undertaker. And this is true: poets write elegies. Wallace Stevens was a director of an insurance company. No, not a director. A deputy director. A poet can never be a director.

We would like to remind you that Adam Zagajewski was a guest at this year’s edition of the Czesław Milosz Festival. During the festival, the film Widok Krakowa (A View of Krakow) directed by Magdalena Piekorz, in which the poet guides us around his city, was presented. The film is a part of the European City(W)rites project. The Polish episode was produced by the Krakow Festival Office, while the filming was supported by Krakow Film Commission.

The producer is the Krakow Festival Office, with TVP and the Book Institute as partners. The project is supported by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage with funds from the Promoting Readership program. The funds are managed by the Book Institute.

The film’s media patron is the lubimyczytac.pl portal.

The Polish episode of the City(W)rites is being produced under the Reading Malopolska project. Reading Malopolska is a project envisaged for the years 2007?2013 and supported with the funds of the Malopolska Regional Operational Programme, under which Malopolska and its capital, Krakow, want to communicate their literary heritage and participate in the building of a network of co-operation of creative regions in the field of literature.

The project Literacka Małopolska is co-financed by the European Union as part of the The Malopolska Regional Operational Programme 2007-2013 ERDF.