Wislawa Szymborska

Wislawa Szymborska

About Wislawa Szymborska

Wislawa Szymborska was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Prowent, which has since become part of Kórnik, she later resided in Kraków until the end of her life. She is described as a Mozart of Poetry. In Poland, Szymborska's books have reached sales rivaling prominent prose authors: although she once remarked in a poem, Some Like Poetry (Niektórzy lubia poezje), that no more than two out of a thousand people care for the art. In March 1945, she published her first poem Szukam slowa (Looking for words) in the daily newspaper, Dziennik Polski. Her poems continued to be published in various newspapers and periodicals for a number of years.
Szymborska frequently employed literary devices such as ironic precision, paradox, contradiction and understatement, to illuminate philosophical themes and obsessions. Many of her poems feature war and terrorism. It is, however, important to note the ambiguity of her poetry. Although her poetry was influenced by her experiences, it is relevant across time and culture. She wrote from unusual points of view, such as a cat in the newly empty apartment of its dead owner. Her reputation rests on a relatively small body of work, fewer than 350 poems. When asked why she had published so few poems, she said: I have a trash can in my home.
Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality. She became better known internationally as a result of this. Her work has been translated into English and many European languages, as well as into Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese and Chinese. Szymborska's poem Nothing Twice turned into a song by composer Andrzej Munkowski performed by Lucja Prus in 1965 makes her poetry known in Poland, rock singer Kora cover of Nothing Twice was a hit in 1994.
The poem Love At First Sight was used in the film Turn Left, Turn Right, starring Takeshi Kaneshiro and Gigi Leung. Three Colors: Red, a film directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, was inspired by Szymborska's poem, Love At First Sight. In her last years Szymborska collaborated with Polish jazz trompeter Tomasz Stanko who dedicated his record Wislawa (ECM, 2013) to her memory - taking inspiration for the compositions from their collaboration and her poetry.
Wislawa Szymborska died 1 February 2012 at home in Kraków, aged 88.

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