Author: Adam Zagajewski; Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh
A stunning, intimate collection by the late, great Polish poet Adam Zagajewski.
. . . I think I sought wisdom
(without resignation) in poems
and also a certain calm madness.
I found, much later, a moment’s joy
and melancholy’s dark contentment.
In True Life, Adam Zagajewski, one of the most gifted poets of our time and a revolutionary Polish writer and thinker, turns his gaze to the past with piercing clarity and a tone of wry, lyrical melancholy. He captures the rhythms of a city street on the page and the steady beat of the passage of time against it (“Roads cannot be destroyed // Even if peonies cover them / smelling like eternity”) and writes of the endless struggle between stasis and change, between movement and stillness (“We knew / it would be the same / as always // It would all go back to normal”).
Mary Oliver called Zagajewski “the most pertinent, impressive, meaningful poet of our time,” and Philip Boehm wrote in The New York Times Book Review that his poems “pull us from whatever routine threatens to dull our senses, from whatever might lull us into mere existence.” True Life, first published in Polish in 2019 and fluidly translated into English by Clare Cavanagh, reveals the astonishing depth of his insight and artistry.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
In The News
"This tender posthumous work by Zagajewski (Two Cities) is exceptionally translated by Cavanagh, who has captured the poet’s subdued, ruminative, and wry tones . . . While devastating truths anchor the reader to a foreclosed present ('We can be stopped/ just like that/ stop'), there is evidence of hope in beauty: 'Lips parted/ Everything is still possible.' This is a remarkable collection by one of the century’s finest poets." —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"A leading light in Poland’s New Wave of poetry, as well as a celebrated poet of any country or time, his “poems about the past, cities, and movement” will be a welcome addition to every library, especially through the care of award-winning translator Clare Cavanagh." —Mandana Chaffa, Chicago Review of Books