I Have Climbed the Pedestal by Jerzy Czech

On the 18th of July (Thursday) Wydawnictwo Czarne plans to publish an anthology of new Russian poetry entitled Wdrapałem się na piedestał [I Have Climbed the Pedestal] with translations by Jerzy Czech – an outstanding translator and populariser of Russian literature. It is a colourful kaleidoscope of different poetic styles, where regular verses occur rebelliously and dynamically beside free verses, and poetic miniatures intertwine with long narrative poems. Awaited for a long time, the first anthology of Russian samizdat poetry in Poland is undoubtedly a must-read for everyone who associates the word ‘poetry’ only with solemn boredom.

Wdrapałem się na piedestał is a brilliant release encompassing over 50 years of the development of Russian poetry – from the 1950s till the present times. The volume of translations by Jerzy Czech is a fascinating overview of the works of sixteen poets representing several generations. These poets are very different, but inseparably bonded by a strong sense of belonging to the second (i.e. unofficial) circulation of culture.

Wdrapałem się na piedestał is a collection of poetic styles; most importantly, contrary to the perverse title, these ironic and grotesque works filled with black humour have nothing in common with the ‘pedestal’! Even Joseph Brodsky shows his bluff and obscene face, which is so different from the one that the Polish reader has been accustomed to.

Jerzy Czech – a Polish poet, translator and publicist. For 30 years he has promoted contemporary Russian literature. He has translated artistic prose, poetry and drama, non-fiction literature and works from the field of theatre studies. The laureate of the ZAiKS Award (2003), the Ryszard Kapuściński Award (2011) and the Angelus Central European Literary Award (2011) for the Polish translation of the book The Unwomanly Face Of The War by Svetlana Alexievich.

As you may remember, Jerzy Czech was a guest of this year’s Milosz Festival, during which he presented fragments of his anthology of contemporary Russian poetry. He had also visited Krakow as a guest of the Conrad Festival in 2011.

The book is co-funded by the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding.

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