Tadeusz Dąbrowski

Translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.


I’m making notes from Lacan, I turn the page
in my notebook and come upon the sprawled foetus
of a poem. My notes walk across it, words
push in between words, the remains come to life

or are just feigning life like a dead frog
speared with a pin. At the bottom of the page the writing assumes
a regular shape again. Lacan goes back to
himself. He is peaceful like someone in the deepest sleep

or like a corpse.


I wander round the biggest shopping mall
in Europe; stores, restaurants, cinemas,
chapels. I’m trying to find the exit, but no one
is able to show me the way. Those who have spent
all their money go trailing about for days
on end and die of exhaustion. Discreet
services collect the bodies before anyone has time
to notice them. How do I know about this? I don’t. I’m walking
for the second day now, and I’m guessing.
TADEUSZ DĄBROWSKI (b. 1979) is a poet, essayist, critic and Editor of the literary bimonthly Topos. He has been published in many journals in Poland (among others: Tygodnik Powszechny, Polityka, Gazeta Wyborcza) and abroad (Boston Review, American Poetry Review, Tin House, Harvard Review, Little Star Weekly, Crazyhorse, Guernica. Work is also forthcoming in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and The Common). His work has been translated into 20 languages. His awards include the Kościelski Prize (2009), the Hubert Burda Prize (2008) and, from Tadeusz Różewicz, the Prize of the Foundation for Polish Culture (2006). He has been nominated for NIKE, the most important Polish literary award (2010). Editor of the anthology Poza słowa and Antologia wierszy 1976–2006 (2006). Author of six volumes of poetry: Wypieki (1999), e-mail (2000), mazurek (2002), Te Deum (2005, 2008), Czarny kwadrat (2009), and Pomiędzy (2013). Collections of his poetry have been released in the US (Black Square, Zephyr Press 2011), Germany (Schwarzes Quadrat auf schwarzem Grund, Luxbooks 2010, 2011) and the Ukraine (Чорний квадрат [вибранi вiршi], Meridian Czernowitz 2013). He lives in Gdańsk on the Baltic coast of Poland.

About the translator:


Antonia Lloyd-Jones
ANTONIA LLOYD-JONES is a full-time translator of Polish literature, and twice winner of the Found in Translation award. Her publications include fiction by Paweł Huelle, poetry by Tadeusz Dąbrowski, reportage by Wojciech Jagielski, and children’s books. She is a mentor for the British Centre for Literary Translation’s mentorship program.

Read more work by Tadeusz Dąbrowski:

Poem in Guernica
Six poems at AGNI