Oxygen: Selected Poems
By Julia Fiedorczuk
Translated by Bill Johnston
Published by Zephyr Press
Publication date: May 2017
Explorations of humans in the natural world using tender, sometimes erotic, always moving language.
Julia Fiedorczuk entangles images and concepts from science (astronomy, physics, and biology) with deeply personal explorations of relationships and connectedness in her debut poetry book in English. Nature abounds in these poems, and Fiedorczuk is, in turn, ever present in 'that luscious fruit, the world.' Her passionate engagement with the details of the environment and the people in it makes hers an unforgettable voice in contemporary ecopoetics, one that argues for empathy and alertness.
in the morning I go to the mists to await a soul
that’s tangled in threads of sleep sticky with dew.
Lola runs and says: I want to be stroked
here and here and here (the way dogs do) then looks
that I have to be shown so explicitly.
we make daybreak:
a huntress chases a wasp
sand crunches in the boards of a house
a wad of moments stuck to a moist eye
is flying off into the mobile continents of clouds
so quick—so quick
[By Julia Fiedorczuk, translated by Bill Johnston, published online as part of Europe Now's feature on Poets and Power: Language of Resilience from Central and Eastern Europe]
Julia Fiedorczuk writes poems, novels, short stories, and critical essays. A proponent of ecopoetics and ecocriticism, her work focuses on the relationship between humans and their non-human environments. Her first collection, Listopad nad Narwia was selected as best debut of the year by the Polish Association of Book Publishers. She is also the recipient of the Hubert Burda Prize for poets from Central and Eastern Europe (2005). She has participated in international conferences on ecopoetics in Berkeley, New York and elsewhere, and is a rising star in the ecopoetics movement. Her book on ecocriticism is used at UC Berkeley, and she serves on an advisory board for an international series of books on ecocritical theory published by Lexington Press. She has read at Seton Hall University, Brown University, Indiana University. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies in the USA, UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany.
Bill Johnston has translated more than twenty books of Polish poetry and prose, including Wieslaw Mysliwski’s Stone Upon Stone (Archipelago Books), winner of the 2012 PEN Translation Prize and the Best Translated Book Award; Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki’s Peregrinary (Zephyr Press), shortlisted for the 2009 Best Translated Book Award-Poetry; and translations of the work of Magdalena Tulli, Andrzej Stasiuk, Jerzy Pilch, Witold Gombrowicz, Tadeusz Rózewicz, and numerous other authors. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2014 he received the Transatlantyk Prize from the Polish Book Institute for his contributions to the promotion of Polish culture abroad. He is currently working on a new translation of Adam Mickiewicz’s 1834 epic poem Pan Tadeusz, for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He teaches literary translation at Indiana University, where he is Henry Remak Professor of Comparative Literature.