Psalms (Wisconsin Poetry Series)
Fiedorczuk was inspired by her readings of the original Hebrew Psalms, as well as by the process of learning to sing. In her poems she captures the heartache and joy of the Biblical Psalms, but in the context of modern life. She addresses climate change, loss of biodiversity, the upheavals of migration, and, in her most recent poems, the return of war to Europe: “Even when bombs are falling you ought to write / perhaps even especially when people lost / in the woods are saying cold, she is so cold.”
Fiedorczuk writes of the natural world, the built environment, motherhood, brotherhood, and of vast and tiny passages of time. And as she does, she discovers a new voice, singing to soothe and inspire.
whose flower made from a clod of pain will enfold
the milky way with its claws
of time, its pelt of stars?
—Excerpt from “Psalm XVII”
Praise for Psalms (Wisconsin Poetry Series)
“A poet’s job is to write,” says Julia Fiedorczuk in the closing poem of Psalms, runner-up for the inaugural Wisconsin Prize for Poetry in Translation. But she far surpasses that modest goal: this volume sings. Bill Johnston captures the rhythm, the cadence, and the music of Fiedorczuk’s poems for English-language readers.
“Fiedorczuk is, deservingly, an international literary star who writes distinctively across genres. In this innovative, formally restless collection, the divine and bacterial, children and rivers, war and eros mix—kaleidoscopically—in unsettling poems that serve as hymns to the sacrality of life—all life, even the life of rocks. Somehow, I don’t know how, Johnston’s translation catches the music, the vowel rhyme, the staggered, restless phrasings of the originals, and Fiedorczuk’s poignant, broken tones of supplication and gratitude.”—Forrest Gander
“[Johnston] renders with admirable precision and concision the spare rhythms of the Polish original. . . . Fiedorczuk’s simultaneous love of and fear for humanity, and love of and fear for the natural world, animate Psalms. . . . The possibility of transcendence is never far from these poems.”—World Literature Today