Wisława Szymborska was born in Poland in 1923 and has lived in the city of Krakow since childhood. Her first published poem appeared in 1945, and her first book of poems in 1952, followed by books in 1957, 1962, 1967, 1972, 1976, 1986, 1993, and 2002. In 1996 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
In recent years, thanks to volumes of translations from Polish into English, Szymborska’s poetry has earned remarkably widespread—indeed almost unanimous!—admiration from contemporary American poets. We invited ten poets to comment on her work. Our commentators are: Sally Ball, Michelle Boisseau, Marianne Boruch, Jennifer Clarvoe, Carl Dennis, Kathy Fagan, Tony Hoagland, William Olsen, Lawrence Raab, and Rachel Wetzsteon.
The books of translations referred to in their essays are:
Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems by Wisława Szymborska (Princeton University Press, 1981), translated by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. Maguire.
Poems New and Collected by Wisława Szymborska (Harcourt, 1998), trans- lated by Stanisław Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.
Miracle Fair: Selected Poems of Wisława Szymborska (W. W. Norton, 2001), translated by Joanna Trzeciak.
Monologue of a Dog by Wisława Szymborska (Harcourt, 2006), translated by Stanisław Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh.
Except where otherwise noted, the quotations in the following essays are from translations by Baranczak and Cavanagh.