Piotr Sommer is one of Poland’s leading poets. Continued extends and enlarges the achievement of his earlier Bloodaxe selection, Things to Translate, and spans his whole career to date. The translations were made with the help of leading British and American poets, including John Ashbery, Douglas Dunn and D.J. Enright.
‘It might come as a shock to you, but the real father of Polish poetry written in the last twenty years is Piotr Sommer. Look at his clarity, his gentle light as immediately after rain, his landscapes and touches, his fascinating human scale – and find out why’ – Tomaz Salamun
‘Piotr Sommer is the great poet of “everyday loneliness, contrary to your self, perhaps”. Like Frank O’Hara, whom he has translated into Polish, he is on the lookout for what he calls “improper names” – the very ones that allow us to construe the unkempt and taciturn world that surrounds us’ – John Ashbery
‘Sommer’s main subject is the “quandary-ness” of “ordinary life”: an old dog, the colour and texture of a lemon, a lift in a dilapidated block of ﬂats, the crash of toiletries on a bathroom ﬂoor. The art of the poetry – and its art is considerable, singular and memorable – is in the way it matter-of-factly transforms ordinary incident, character, landscape, object, and the assorted interactions thereof, into tiny metaphysical and epistemological essays: investigations into the subjects of language, imagination, impermanence, memory, identity. It is a poetry that engages large subjects through its attentiveness to seemingly small or minor events… There is a quality of otherness in the poetry, or the suggestion of otherness. Boundaries are continually being crossed. There are sallies and retreats. What at first may seem straightforward is, in fact, rather craftily and carefully assembled and held taut in a web of contingencies. Sommer is very much the poet as double-agent, working both sides of the border and travelling incognito’ – August Kleinzahler
North America: Wesleyan University Press
Piotr Sommer reads his poems in Polish and English
Piotr Sommer reads these ten poems in Polish and English: ‘Piosenka pasterska’ (Shepherd’s Song), ‘Niedyskrecje’ (Indiscretions), ‘Pewne drzewo na Powazkach’ (A Certain Tree in Powazki Cemetery), ‘Wiersz apolityczny’ (Apolitical Poem), ‘Nie bój się, nie zginie’ (Don’t Worry, It Won’t Get Lost), ‘Oddalaja˛ce się planety jarzębiny’ (Receding Planets of the Rowan Tree), ‘Mały traktat o niesprzeczności’ (A Small Treatise on Non-Contradiction), ‘Liść klonu’ (A Maple Leaf), ‘Rano na ziemi’ (Morning on Earth), ‘Ciag dalszy’ (Continued). Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed him during his visit to Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway in April 2008. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed & edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).