It's not often that I sit down to read a collection of poetry, but after having found the clipping I'd saved from Tadeusz Różewicz's obituary in the New York Times, I ordered a volume of his collected poems, published in the States as Sobbing Superpower.
I'm no expert on poetry, nor am I its greatest champion. That said, there was something about Różewicz's work that resonated, that I found both approachable and lasting. And more: I found his poetry without pretense, without that aggravating opacity I so often encounter in contemporary poetry.
For me, the most memorable aspects of Różewicz's volume include:
- His sensitivity to Polish history, and to the centrality of Poland as a geographical space
- His recognition of what was lost, especially during the Second World War; Różewicz doesn't shy away from the brutality and hurt; he looks it square in the eye -- and the effect is haunting
- His reach, his intellectual span; Różewicz writes about Kafka as he does Ezra Pound; the result is poetry that is at once illuminating and unexpected
- His simplicity; Różewicz does not obfuscate; instead, he casts a unyielding gaze; here again the result is illumination, but it is also unsettling; the Second World War is laid bare in these poems, its victims mourned and remembered
The last word is for Różewicz:
"No one remembers anymore //
The weight of a human tear"