Who is a poet? A translator, a smuggler, a connector of that, which is impossible? | Miłosz Festival

Who is a poet? A translator, a smuggler, a connector of that, which is impossible?

During the third day of the festival, poets confessed to imaginary arguments, smuggling, and the fact that in principle, they use words in order to give space some breathing room.

The third day of the Miłosz Festival began with a rescue operation in the Charming Kingdom – a land of magicians and fairy tale writers, where every book has its good ghost. However, when fourteen Book Ghosts began to suffer from insomnia, the kingdom was in danger. Instead of sleeping during the day and haunting at night, the ghosts started to cause trouble during both day and night. Luckily, the children and parents taking part in the city game “Lullaby for the Book Ghosts” (“Księgoduchy do poduchy”) saved the land and the Festival could go on.

Robert Hass, speaking about his friendship with Czesław Miłosz, admitted that he has not stopped talking with Miłosz, even after his death. What is more, he has not stopped arguing with him, as seen in the poemAn Argument about Poetics Imagined at Squaw Valley after a Night Walk under the Mountain.” Robert Hass emphasised that he himself has spent a lot of time, wondering about the world – “you know, in New York, people go to the museum then, we in California go for a walk,” Hass said – but it was Miłosz who was the master, especially in describing the fine detail in such a way as to dazzle the world.

Speaking about his poetry, Hass stressed that he tries to find the right mix between pain and beauty, between his Catholic upbringing and sensuality. He did not want to create confessional poetry, but wanted to show that what constituted the core of his life was simply extraordinarily sweet.

An altogether different face of the poetry of Czesław Miłosz was discussed during the International Haiku Conference accompanying the Festival. Participants of the discussion searched for links between Polish poetry and the world’s shortest form of poetry, which was so valued by Miłosz.

Andrzej Franaszek, in turn, looked for the connection between Zbigniew Herbert and Ryszard Krynicki – the laureate of this year’s Herbert Literary Award. In a conversation with Ryszard Krynicki, he asked why, instead of an intergenerational conflict, his acquaintance with Herbert became a friendship. The poet admitted that during the times of Communist Poland, Zbigniew Herbert got him out of trouble many times, paradoxically calling for not publishing Krynicki abroad.

To raise the temperature of this story, let us add that it concerns a mysterious tablet and a poem that, according to Communist authorities, could threaten the regime. Franaszek spoke about this type of poetic smuggling with today’s publisher of Herbert’s work, honoured by the Herbert Foundation.

Magda Heydel asked Alice Oswald about what she smuggles into her poetry from her work as a gardener. The British poet admitted that she feels more like a translator of nature than a creative artist. “I follow the map of the river, and copy the voice of the water and the people connected with it,” said the author of the volume Dart, which shares its name with the river, near which the poet lives.

Oswald attaches great importance to the form of the poem – both its graphical shape and its rhythm. She always recites her poems from memory, and views writing them down almost like a musical composition. “Basically, words only serve to properly separate space,” says the author of the poem in which she interviews a particularly unpredictable wind.

Also unpredictable was the result of the Spanish-Polish marathon Republica Poetica. Who was the undisputed leader? The poetic draw was guaranteed by Marta Eloy-Cichocka, who hosted the Polish-Spanish evening, while Marcin Oleś provided the musical garnish with his sensual bass playing.

What awaits us on the fourth day of the festival? A great May picnic in the picturesque Józef Mehoffer House Garden, but also the chance to get to know Anthony Miłosz, the poet’s son. The great finale will be taken care of by Yurii Andrukhovych – poet, translator, ambassador of Free Ukraine and frontman of the band Karbido, with whom he will perform a concert at Re Club to cap off the fourth edition of the Miłosz Festival.

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