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Tribute to Stanislaw Baranczak

By some known as a poet, by others as a translator or a dissident – he was all of these things. Stanislaw Baranczak defied censorship in the communist Poland, wrote poems and essays which were clearly anti-establishment at the time. He lost his job as a teacher in Poland when he helped to found the Workers Defence Committee. He later emigrated to the United States, where he taught at Harvard.

His poetry ridiculed the communism system and its artificial language. He loved playing with words, wrote many poems based on wordplays. His works demonstrated wit and remarkable intelligence, which made them unique.

Apart from being a poet and scholar, Stanislaw Baranczak was also a gifted translator. He translated works of many Polish writers into English, which is a great success in itself. Some of his works include poems by Jan Kochanowski (16th century poet) or Nobel laureate Wislawa Szymborska. He also translated various works by English-speaking writers into Polish – many works by Shakespeare, Robert Herrick, John Donne, E.E. Cummings or Emily Dickinson. However, one can also find song lyrics translated by this prolific writer. He translated also from Russian and Lithuanian. He died in December 2014.

His works include:


  • 1968, Korekta twarzy (“Facial Corrections”)
  • 1968, Dziennik poranny (“Morning Journal”)
  • 1970, Jednym tchem (“Without Stopping for Breath”)
  • 1977, Ja wiem, że to niesłuszne (“I Know It’s Not Right”)
  • 1978, Sztuczne oddychanie (“Artificial Respiration”)
  • 1980, Tryptyk z betonu, zmęczenia i śniegu (“Triptych with Concrete, Fatigue and Snow”)
  • 1986, Atlantyda i inne wiersze z lat 1981-85 (“Atlantis and Other Poems”)
  • 1988, Widokówka z tego świata (“A Postcard from the Other World”)
  • 1990, 159 wierszy 1968-88 (“159 Poems”)
  • 1994, Podróż zimowa (“Journey in Winter”)
  • 1997, Zimy i podroże (“Winter and Journeys”)
  • 1998, Chirurgiczna precyzja (“Surgical Precision”)
  • 2006, Wiersze zebrane

Examples of translations from English:

  • E. Cummings (150 poems)
  • Shakespeare (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Otello, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, etc.)
  • Bishop (33 poems)
  • Dickinson (200 poems)
  • H. Auden (44 poems)
  • Hardy (55 poems)
  • Keats (33 poems)

Author: Magdalena Piskor

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