POETRY

Magnetic Point: Selected Poems, 1968–2014

New Directions. Nov. 2017. 224p. ed. & tr. from Polish by Clare Cavanagh. ISBN 9780811225007. pap. $18.95; ebk. ISBN 9780811225014. POETRY
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Leading Polish poet Krynicki was born in a German labor camp in Austria to Polish slave laborers who remained in transit (with the father forced into the Red Army) for some time after the war. Not surprisingly, his verse is dark, with death a frequent theme; even tenderness, "harsh as parting," means faded violets and a child's ribbon from a pogrom. But somehow Krynicki is neither grim nor raging, delivering the specifics of history and politics yet transcending them in poems patient, observant, and radiant with a clear-eyed sense of life's hard contours. Near Kafka's grave, a last glowing chestnut drops from a tree, capturing those contours perfectly.
VERDICT Readers of international poetry will appreciate discovering a splendidly translated new voice; others will appreciate the lucid writing.

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