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Memory and Longing in "The Folding Star and Other Poems"

The Folding Star and Other Poems A new review of The Folding Star and Other Poems by Jacek Gutorow featured in Stride Magazine, begins with an excerpt from a letter in which Gutorow reveals his concerns about poetry in translation: "There is something paradoxical about the effects created by
poetry in translation. The poets who are deeply immersed in
their native language, who are capable of articulating complex
meanings connected with innumerable modulations of colloquial
speech, and who manage to sound out the unique frequencies
of their languages by experimenting with etymology or
phraseology, are usually poorly served by translators whose
technical abilities may be splendid but who cannot write with
the nerve of common speech." Kennedy acknowledges the issues that Gutorow sees in translating poetry, but notes that Piotr Florczyk's (translator of The Folding Star) translation does anything but flatten the meaning of the poems: "Gutorow's poetry does deal with philosophical issues around language and perception but its passage into English has produced language that is far from neutral. 'Let the drum whoop', 'a plastic airplane / flies and flies in a clenched fist', and 'the heartless night ending with the yellow horsewhip / of the east' show how carefully Gutorow grounds what might seem to be abstract concerns. His poetry has other distinctive features. Many of his thoughtful, meditative poems are full of the effects of sunlight, the fall of shadows and the portrayal of weather as a kind of ontological landscape. There is a precise focus on moments of being and time that turn out to be elusive and these moments are often located in childhood. Finally, there are a number of poems that deal with the moments when we make the world into language." Read the whole review in Stride Magazine.


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