PJAS 11 Autumn-2

Joanna Orska
Transition-Translation: Andrzej Sosnowski’s Translation of Three Poems by John Ashbery
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 11 (Autumn 2017), pp. 275-293


Narrative poetic forms became popular in Poland in the 1990s, and just as it is the case with other changes in poetic style and genres, this tendency can be associated with the popularization of the styles of the New York School of poetry. I would like to reflect on the poetic practice of John Ashbery and its presence in Poland. My main interest is to show how translations of his texts refresh through their formal and conceptual novelty the range of the Polish lyric poetry’s sensitivities, expanding the possibilities of poetic imagination and language. The translators of poems by the New York School poets remain to this day perhaps the most important contemporary authors, who are also most often mentioned by critics as reference points for new Polish poetry. This is the case of Andrzej Sosnowski, whose translation of Three Poems (a prose poem from 1974), published in Poland in 2012 as Cztery poematy, is undoubtedly the crowning achievement of this poet-translator. Sosnowski himself is the author of several poetic prose pieces (which may be aptly described, after Fredman, as poet’s prose), whose relationships with both Ashbery himself and the authors translated by both poets (Raymond Roussel, Arthur Rimbaud) seem to be part of a complicated “translationaltransitive” game that Sosnowski may play with Ashbery. I decided to choose this example of the very unique Polish reception of the American poet because it seems to be a wide-ranging artistic project, far exceeding the boundaries of an adventure that might be called a faithful or masterly translation.

Keywords: prose poem, New York School, translation turn, John Ashbery, Andrzej Sosnowski, translation practice, poet’s prose

DOI: 10.7311/PJAS.11/2/2017.02

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