The Folding Star and Other Poems is a triumphant collection of poetry that will help change our understanding of Polish poetry in the United States. The steady gaze, surgical precision, and syntactical richness of Gutorow’s poems speak to unhurried and lasting meditations, which, in their turn, beg to be revised time and again.
“What is a lyric poem but “one great abbreviation” of “The river is looking out for the other shore./Me.” It is with that sort of sly economy that Jacek Gutorow creates his speakers—and raises them up off the flat world of the white page and walks them over to the center of the stage where they stand and give utterance to our shared experiences: we talk, we think, we act, we travel—and we try, over and over again, to give voice to the impossible ineffable—that category that contains everything from the sad fact of wall shadows to the awful chaos of expectations. Jacek Gutorow’s poems are Stevensian in their propositions but inimitably his own. We are fortunate to now have them in English so that we who don’t read Polish can now read these, and enjoy their insight and wry wit. And their wonderfully distilled new way of saying.”
—Mary Jo Bang
“There are dreams that are uncertain, wrapped in flux. And then dreams that are more precise and finely hewn than waking life: more mysterious for that, but part of reality, not its other--as sharp and painful as Bergman films. Jacek Gutorow's poems are like this, if far more compact: childhood orchard in a snow globe, recollection as super-realism. This is a remarkable collection of work, with an incomparably sustained emotional tonality: expansive because of its great compression, its moving contradiction. "At the end / a boy will flaunt the torch /and set the whole world ablaze." But with poems: a coruscating and cold fire.”
Almost everything's green and tea-colored here. Piles of leaves
in the trees, switchbacks, trails of smoke snugly heaped up.
Time and again road signs lose their heads and turn into sky signs
or prickly stars defining the outlines
of a misty auditorium. The air masses and isobars settle down.
And the inside is littered with bolts and transmissions, pigments
blended with precision to a few autumnal shades.
The driver turns into a local. We remain
uprooted, at peace with the accidental landscapes.
The most is viewed with a bird's-eye, off the map,
just as it's seen and occurs. What is next
lies uphill: the looming forties, their works and days
and nothing beyond them.
Our youth flashed by on the left,
ladies and gentlemen.
I've never been there.