Glagoslav Publications

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Poems about my Psychiatrist

9.9524.99

Author: Andrzej Kotański

Translator: Charles S. Kraszewski

“The world’s really not the way it is,” says the eponymous Psychiatrist in Andrzej Kotański’s wildly popular Poems about my Psychiatrist, “it’s not what it seems to us to be / to tell the truth / the world doesn’t actually exist.” This is problematical, to say the least. The world doesn’t exist? Well, here I am, and here is this book, real paper, which I hold in my real hands. If you’re confused, don’t expect much help to come from the book itself.

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“The world’s really not the way it is,” says the eponymous Psychiatrist in Andrzej Kotański’s wildly popular Poems about my Psychiatrist, “it’s not what it seems to us to be / to tell the truth / the world doesn’t actually exist.” This is problematical, to say the least. The world doesn’t exist? Well, here I am, and here is this book, real paper, which I hold in my real hands. If you’re confused, don’t expect much help to come from the book itself. Do we have two narrators here, or one? Is there a patient and a psychiatrist in conversation, or is the psychiatrist merely a projection of the patient’s own mind, a cry for help incarnate, from a person unable to deal with life?

As ambiguity is at the heart of great literature, this is not a bad thing: it gives us, as readers, something to argue about, an elusive answer to chase down over successive, ever closer readings of a book made up of deceptively straightforward, lucid verses. The bigger problem is the staggering popularity of Poems about my Psychiatrist, recently reprinted in an anniversary edition that contains new poems added to the original cycle. Kotański’s work is a bestseller in Poland – a status of which few, if any, collections of poetry may boast. To what does it owe its popularity? Kotański’s incisive, bare-bones approach to poetry, which savours of the best compositions of Tadeusz Różewicz and Zbigniew Herbert, presents to us an unnamed anti-hero.

Unlike Różewicz’s disillusioned soldier returning from the war, and Herbert’s Pan Cogito – that indefatigable defender of Mediterranean culture and human dignity in the face of totalitarianism – Kotański’s anti-hero is a neurotic sort, a jumble of complexes, who can be best compared to the twitchy protagonists of Woody Allen’s films. If we, as readers, identify with him, what does this say about ourselves, and our culture, now in the third decade of the twenty-first century? Here, reader, in the English translation of Charles S. Kraszewski, we present you with a mirror. Open your eyes, if you dare.

 

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Author

Andrzej Kotański, once called “a star waiting to be discovered” by Biblioteka Kraków, is creative in poetry, prose, drama and the sung word. He debuted in 1990 with a collection of short stories entitled Czterdzieści siedem tysięcy bankietów [Forty-Seven Thousand Banquets], and since then has brought out three volumes of verse: Elegia o płaszczu skórzanym [An Elegy of a Leather Jacket, 1992], Jutro będzie wiosna [Tomorrow Will Be Spring, 1994] and Wiersze o mom psychiatrze [Poems about my Psychiatrist, 2011], the entirety of which is translated here into English. Kotański is the author of one play Wersalka [The Couch, 2000], and has composed many original songs in Polish, as well as translating songs from Italian, Spanish, French, English and Russian. Having studied Romance languages and literatures at the University of Warsaw (his master’s thesis is a close reading of the French poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke), he has worked at the Institut Français in Warsaw, and also in advertising. 

Translator

Charles S. Kraszewski (born 1962) is the author of three volumes of original poetry, as well as numerous translations from Polish and Czech, including classics such as Adam Mickiewicz’s Dziady (Forefathers’ Eve) and experimental poets of the modern period like Tytus Czyżewski (A Burglar of the Better Sort: Poems, Dramatic Works, and Theoretical Writings), both published by Glagoslav.

Dimensions 127 × 203 cm
Author

Andrzej Kotański

Pages

118 pages

Book Format

Hardcover, Paperback, EPUB, Kindle, PDF

Publication date

8th November 2022

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