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Dec. 6, 2012

Polish Studies Initiative kicks off lecture series with poetry

By Brandon Blackwell

Cleveland State’s Polish Studies Initiative kicked off its 2012-13 lecture series Nov. 29 with a shot of poetry.

About 20 people gathered in the Student Center to listen to Joanna Trzeciak, assistant professor with Kent State University’s Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies, recite poems by one of Poland’s most lionized artists — Tadeusz Rozewicz.

“He is a man of enormous courage,” Trzeciak said of the 91-year-old poet. “At 24, he came into the Polish scene and changed Polish poetics.”

Trzeciak, a self-professed poetry nut, became an expert on Rozewicz when she compiled and translated a selection of his works for her book “Sobbing Superpower: Selected Poems of Tadeusz Rozewicz.”

Rozewicz’s large body of work includes poems on the Holocaust, consumerism, sexuality and more.

“One of the things that makes Rozewicz so distinct, is that he isn’t afraid of anything,” Trzeciak said.

Trzeciak’s love for poetry began when she was a young girl. Her father made her memorize poems as a form of punishment.

“You can imagine how naughty I was as a child as I had memorized about 600 poems,” she said.

Rozewicz became a seminal figure in Trzeciak’s life, she said.

Trzeciak spoke of “a new economy of translation” after reciting poems.

She described it as a way of trusting the reader to find meaning in poems translated into a non-native language.

“In translation, you have to see what’s lurking in another language,” Trzeciak said, adding that as a translator, she is a reader first and foremost.

It took her about eight years to translate the poems included in “Sobbing Superpower.”
The next Polish Studies lecture is Feb. 28, during which University of Notre Dame

Professor Mikolaj Kunicki will speak on Polish communism.

On April 18, Cleveland State Professor Edward Horowitz, who is also the director of the Polish Studies Initiative, will lecture on the Polish economic crisis.

“The lecture series is a way for us to show different perspectives of Polish society through the humanities and social sciences,” Horowitz said. “It’s also a nice way to engage with the Polish community in Cleveland.”

All lectures are held at 4 p.m. in SC Room 315.