New and On View: Mudlark Poster No. 144 (2017)
Poems from Mieczysław Jastrun’s Memorials
Translated from the Original Polish
by Jeff Friedman and Dzvinia Orlowsky
Mieczysław Jastrun was born as Mojsze Agatstein in 1903 in Korolowka, Austria-Hungary (now Ukraine) and died in 1983 in Warsaw, Poland. A lyric poet and essayist of Jewish origin, he survived the terrible years of the Nazi occupation in Poland. During his lifetime he published a dozen volumes of poetry, including A Human Matter, A Meeting in Time, Protected Hour and Memorials. He concerned himself most often with the subjects of philosophy and morality and shunned Jewish themes in his poetry (with the exception of a few poems). However, as a poet who published his poems in resistance periodicals, he couldn’t turn his back on the horrors of the genocide; nor was he able to escape historical necessity and despair in even his most mystical writings. Jastrun is considered to be one of the most important Polish poets of the years between the two world wars. He translated French, Russian, and German poets (including Rilke) into Polish. His work is included in Postwar Polish Poetry: An Anthology, selected and edited by Czesław Miłosz.
Jeff Friedman’s seventh book, Floating Tales, is forthcoming from Plume Editions/MadHat Press. His poems, mini stories and translations have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, New England Review, The Antioch Review, Poetry International, Plume, Hotel Amerika, Flash Fiction Funny, Agni Online, The New Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Poets, New Flash Fiction Review, New World Writing, The New Republic and numerous other literary magazines. Dzvinia Orlowsky’s and his translation of Memorials by Polish Poet Mieczsław Jastrun was published by Lavender Ink/Dialogos in August 2014. Friedman and Orlowsky were awarded an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship for 2016. Nati Zohar and Friedman’s book of translations Two Gardens: Modern Hebrew Poems of the Bible, was published by Singing Bone Press in 2016.
Dzvinia Orlowsky is a poet and translator. She is the author of five collections of poetry published by Carnegie Mellon University Press including A Handful of Bees, reprinted in 2009 as a Carnegie Mellon Classic Contemporary; Convertible Night, Flurry of Stones, recipient of a 2010 Sheila Motton Book Award; and her most recent, Silvertone, for which she was named Ohio Poetry Day Associations 2014 Co-Poet of the Year. Her translation from Ukrainian of Alexander Dovzhenko’s novella, The Enchanted Desna, was published by House Between Water in 2006; and Jeff Friedman’s and her translation of Memorials by Polish Poet Mieczysław Jastrun was published by Dialogos in 2014. She is a Founding Editor of Four Way Books, a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Massachusetts Cultural Council poetry grant, and recipient with Jeff Friedman of a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts Translation Grant. She teaches poetry at the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing of Pine Manor College and at Providence College. Her newest poetry collection, Bad Harvest, is forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2018.
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