01 February 2012

Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012) . . . Not "hopelessly unphotogenic.”

Wisława Szymborska. Photograph © Joanna Helander.

The phrase at the end of the post title is from a description of the slow, solitary, quite work poets do that Wisława Szymborska offers in her Nobel Lecture. The portrait I've lifted here makes clear that the description hardly is true of the poet herself.

In November, drummer Paul Motian, perhaps my favorite musician, died. At the time I wrote that was difficult to express my admiration for the man or how much I owed to his music. Today Szymborska, another person in much the same category as Motian, died of cancer. You can find an obituary here at The New York Times.

Once again my debt is immense. Once again, words escape me. Some readers may know that my email address is zerosonetheloose. That is a compressed phrase from one of Szymborska's poems - "Possibilities" - the final lines of which have gotten me by on many days over the past half-decade. I never met Szymborska and regret having never had the chance.
P.S. (2 March 2012): I just came across these reflections on Szymborska by Katha Pollitt at The Nation.

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Blogger Linda said...

When I read the obit this morning, I felt such a sense of loss despite, as you say, never having met Szymborska. But her words have made me laugh, shaken me profoundly, and turned me several unbecoming shades of envy green.


02 February, 2012 08:51  
Blogger lisbeth vandoorne said...

Would you have any idea where / how I can buy a poster of this fabulous photo?

Thx! Lisbeth_vandoorne@hotmail.com

03 August, 2012 09:34  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Lisbeth, Unfortunately I have no idea. However, the photo is on the cover of a recent translation of WS's poems entitled Here; the photo credit is to Joanna Helander whose web page is: http://joannahelander.com/ ... so maybe that is a lead?

05 August, 2012 20:52  
Blogger Ruby said...

I am planning on teaching szymborska's poetry to my year 12 literature class soon. I have just started reading some of her poetry and am trying to source materials that critique/discuss/comment on her work. Any leads would be greatly appreciated

18 September, 2013 15:40  

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