Polish Writer Adam Zagajewski to Present UB's 2009 Oscar Silverman Reading

Release Date: October 27, 2009 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo Department of English has announced that award-winning Polish poet, novelist and essayist Adam Zagajewski will present the 2009 Oscar Silverman Reading Nov. 6 at 8 p.m. in 250 Baird Hall on the UB North Campus.

The reading will be free and open to the public.

Zagajewski is a writer known for his lyrical approach to metaphysical and cultural problems and has been cited by The New York Review of Books as "one of the most familiar and highly regarded names in poetry, both in Europe and in this country." He is one of Poland's most popular contemporary poets and enjoys a wide international readership, in part because his work maintains its power even in translation.

Considered one of the "Generation of '68" or "New Wave" writers in Poland, Zagajewski's earlier work was protest poetry, but the American public became familiar with him through his poem, "Try to Praise the Mutilated World," published after 9/11 in The New Yorker. The poem begins:

Try to praise the mutilated world.

Remember June's long days,

and wild strawberries, drops of wine, the dew.

The nettles that methodically overgrow

The abandoned homesteads of exiles…

His principal themes have been identified as "the night, dreams, history and time; infinity and eternity; silence and death." The titles of his poetry collections suggest these motifs: "Tremor" (1985), "Mysticism for Beginners" (1997), and "World Without End: New and Selected Poems" (2002), which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent book in English is "Eternal Enemies" (2008).

Poet Robert Pinsky, writing of Zagajewski's 1991 collection "Canvas," said the poems are "about the presence of the past in ordinary life: history not as chronicle of the dead, or an anima to be illuminated by some doctrine, but as an immense, sometimes subtle force inhering in what people see and feel every day -- and in the ways we see and feel."

Zagajewski's prose collections include "Two Cities: On Exile, History and the Imagination" (1995) and a 2000 memoir "Another Beauty."

He has won many prestigious literary prizes, among them the Prix de la Liberté and the Kurt Tucholsky Prize (from PEN Swedish Centre), and has won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Berliner Kunstleprogramm.

For decades Zagajewski lived in Paris where he edited the literary review Zeszyty literackie, before moving to Krakow in 2002. He was visiting associate professor of English at the University of Houston from 1988 to 2007, when he became a visiting professor at the University of Chicago and a member of its Committee on Social Thought, one of the university's several PhD-granting committees.

The Oscar Silverman Reading is presented annually in memory of the distinguished scholar and teacher who chaired the UB Department of English from 1955-63. From 1960-68, Silverman directed and greatly expanded the University Libraries, and was instrumental in acquiring materials in UB's world-class collection of 20th-century poetry, in particular its Robert Graves Collection, the manuscripts of Wyndham Lewis and the James Joyce Collection, which has evolved into the finest in the world.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Media Contact Information

Patricia Donovan has retired from University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.