by Grzegorz Kwiatkowski
translated from the Polish by Peter Constantine
32 pages, perfect bound
Rain Taxi’s OHM Editions is proud to publish a stunning chapbook of verse by award-winning Polish poet and musician Grzegorz Kwiatkowski.
Watch the replay of our launch event featuring Grzegorz Kwiatkowski and Peter Constantine on our YouTube channel here!
$10, plus $2 for shipping in the U.S.
$10, plus $8 International shipping
"These poems’ voices are woven together in a subtle and ruthless tapestry: farmers speak of recurring massacres as if they were seasonal crop cycles; German soldiers remember the droll image of desperate people foolishly running in circles as they are hunted down in the fields; a six-year-old girl named Buzia reports in a brief and stark obituary how she was murdered. The poems are frightening testimonies: short, distilled, often cool and cold. Particularly frightening are the narrations of the perpetrators and the apologists, voicing in drab banality acts of sudden and devastating brutality. As Grzegorz Kwiatkowski warns: “We must not forget our tragic past because it might well return. The mechanism for its return has already been set in motion.”
—From the Translator’s Foreword
REVIEWS OF CROPS
What makes Kwiatkowski’s poetry effective, of course, is that he gives no setup, no commentary, no context—none is needed. What is needed, maybe, and what he gives, is to feel anew the jagged shock of the everyday casual voice that commended itself so easily to extreme violence. So clean and gorgeous an account of horror has probably never been written.
—Jesse Nathan, McSweeney's
How do you address a legacy of genocide through art? Crops has a daunting task before it, and what makes these works particularly impressive is the way that Kwiatkowski’s stark use of language offers a sense of absence throughout the book. This is haunting work in more ways than one.
—Tobias Carroll, Words Without Borders
Anyone who dares read this book will feel a chill settle deep in the bones.
—John Bradley, Talisman
These poems are brutal, strangely exquisite, and, unfortunately, still necessary. With his words and his music and his relentless campaign of stark honesty and regenerative connection, Grzegorz Kwiatkowski is a genuine glimmer of hope in a darkening world.
I have found these poems to be emotionally compelling and profound. I expect fellow readers will enjoy this beautiful work.
Grzegorz Kwiatkowski once said, “I think that we should be conscious about the evil that is inside every one of us.” In his collection Crops, Kwiatkowski’s taut, tense poems sound the depths of our darkest history. Masterfully rendered by Peter Constantine, one of our most brilliant translators, Crops reveals that the unforgettable is also the undeniable. Is it beautiful? I say it is powerfully necessary, unrelentingly direct. I say it burns.
In these searing, darkly beautiful, indelible poems, Kwiatkowski reminds us of what, at our peril, we must not forget.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Grzegorz Kwiatkowski (b. 1984) is a poet and musician, an author of several books of poetry revolving around the subjects of history, remembrance, and ethics. He is a member of a psychedelic rock band Trupa Trupa. He has been an Artist in Residence at numerous international literary programs and a guest lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley; Johns Hopkins University; the University of Chicago; Jewish Theological Seminary; the University of Cambridge and the Ted Hughes Society (“Crow at 50”); The University of Texas at Dallas, and Miroslaw Balka’s Studio of Spatial Activities at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. His music and literary works have been published and reviewed in The Guardian, Modern Poetry in Translation, New Poetry In Translation, CBC, Pitchfork, Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Billboard, Spin, Chicago Tribune, Times, NPR, BBC and KEXP. As a musician, he performed with his band at such events as Desert Daze Festival, Rockaway Beach Festival, SXSW, Primavera Sound and Iceland Airwaves. Trupa Trupa was also invited to take part in a legendary NPR Tiny Desk session. Its music has been published by global record labels such as Sub Pop, Glitterbeat Records, Ici d’ailleurs and Lovitt Records.
“The Polish poet Grzegorz Kwiatkowski admits to his poetic affinity with Edgar Lee Masters. Although he borrows his approaches from Spoon River Anthology, Kwiatkowski emphasizes the differences too: ‘I’m very interested in history. My grandfather was a prisoner in Stutthof, the Nazi concentration camp east of what used to be the Free City of Danzig. Later he was forced to become a Wehrmacht soldier.’ Kwiatkowski’s poems explore not only conflicted pasts of Central and South-Eastern Europe (for example, the Nazi T4 Euthanasia Program), but also the paradoxes of contemporary genocides, for instance in Rwanda. As the poet explains, ‘I’m intrigued by the combination of ethics and aesthetics in one person, one life, one story.’ His minimalist poems have been perceived as quasi-testimonies, ‘full of passion, terror and disgust’, provocative and lyrical utterances delivered by the killed and the dead. Ultimately, they become portrayals of Death.” —from Modern Poetry In Translation