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Psalms (Wisconsin Poetry Series)

Psalms (Wisconsin Poetry Series)

Current price: $17.95
Publication Date: October 31st, 2023
University of Wisconsin Press


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”

About the Author

Julia Fiedorczuk was awarded the 2018 Szymborska Prize, Poland’s most prestigious poetry award, for Psalmy (Psalms), and has received many other honors. The author of six volumes of poetry, two novels, a collection of short stories, and three critical books, Fiedorczuk is a professor of American studies and a cofounder of the Environmental Humanities Center at Warsaw University. Her poems have been translated into many languages.

Bill Johnston received the 2019 National Translation Award in Poetry for his rendering of Adam Mickiewicz’s rhyming verse narrative Pan Tadeusz. His other awards include the PEN Translation Prize and the Best Translated Book Award.  He teaches literary translation at Indiana University.

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