Stanisław Barańczak

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Stanisław Barańczak with his wife Anna

Stanisław Barańczak (born November 13, 1946, Poznań, Poland) is a poet, literary critic, scholar, editor and lecturer.[1] His book, Surgical Precision (Chirurgiczna Precyzja), won the 1999 Nike Award.

Life and career[edit]

Barańczak was born in Poland in 1946.[1] He's a brother of the popular novelist Małgorzata Musierowicz. Barańczak studied Polish at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, where he became a lecturer and earned his Ph.D. He broke into print as a poet and critic in 1965. Barańczak was on the staff of the Poznań magazine Nurt from 1967-1971. After the political events of June 1976, he became a co-founder of the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR) and of the clandestine quarterly Zapis. In 1981, the year Poland declared martial law, he left the country and became a lecturer at Harvard University where he stayed for almost two decades.[1] In 1999, he left Harvard due to complications with Parkinson's disease.[1] He was a co-founder of the Paris Zeszyty Literackie in 1983, and a regular contributor to the periodical Teksty Drugie. He also served as editor of The Polish Review from 1986 to 1990.

Barańczak is a leading poet in the "New Wave" and one of the outstanding Polish writers to begin his career in the communist period, combining literary work with scholarship and politics. He is the most prominent translator in recent years of English poetry into Polish (e.g., Shakespeare) and of Polish poetry into English. He received the PEN Translation Prize with Clare Cavanagh in 1996.

His Polish is permeated with the language of the poets he feels closest to - Emily Dickinson, John Donne and Robert Frost - and whose work he has made popular in Poland. Barańczak's own poetry is dominated by three concerns: the ethical, the political, and the literary. His language is extraordinarily supple. His choice of subjects testifies to his community engagement; his language is always amazingly fluent. It may seem paradoxical that Baranczak began as a poetic critic of language and the social order but has achieved his greatest success as a late-20th-century Parnassist, a virtuoso of poetic form.

Some of his poems were set to music by Jan Krzysztof Kelus.


Each year below links to its corresponding "[year] in poetry" article:


  • 1968, Korekta twarzy ("Facial Corrections"), Poznan: Wydawnictwo Poznanskie[2]
  • 1968, Dziennik poranny ("Morning Journal"), Poznan: Wydawnictwo Poznanskie[2]
  • 1970, Jednym tchem ("Without Stopping for Breath"), Warsaw: Orientacja[2]
  • 1977, Ja wiem, że to niesłuszne ("I Know It's Not Right"), Paris: Instytut Literacki[2]
  • 1978, Sztuczne oddychanie ("Artificial Respiration"), London: Aneks[2]
  • 1980, Tryptyk z betonu, zmęczenia i śniegu ("Triptych with Concrete, Fatigue and Snow"), Kraków: KOS[2]
  • 1986, Atlantyda i inne wiersze z lat 1981-85 ("Atlantis and Other Poems"), London: Puls[2]
  • 1988, Widokówka z tego świata ("A Postcard from the Other World"), Paris: Zeszyty Literackie[2]
  • 1990, 159 wiersze 1968-88 ("159 Poems"), Kraków: Znak[2]
  • 1994, Podróż zimowa ("Journey in Winter"), Poznan: a5[2]
  • 1997, Zimy i podroże ("Winter and Journeys"), Kraków: WL[2]
  • 1998, Chirurgiczna precyzja ("Surgical Precision"), Kraków: a5[2]
  • 2006, Wiersze zebrane, Kraków: a5, 2006[2]

Light verse:

  • 1991, Biografioly: poczet 56 jednostek slawnych, slawetnych i oslawionych ("Biographies of 56 Celebrated, Famous or Notorious Individuals"), Poznan: a5[2]
  • 1991, Zwierzęca zajadłość: z zapisków zniechęconego zoologa ("Animal Ferocity: From the Notes of a Discouraged Zoologist"), Poznan: a5[2]
  • 1995, Slon, traba i ojczyzna ("The Elephant, the Trunk, and the Polish Question"), Kraków: Znak[2]
  • Pegaz zdębiał. Poezja nonsensu a życie codzienne: Wprowadzenie w prywatną teorię gatunków (Pegasus fell dumb. Nonsense poetry and everyday life: introduction to a private theory of genres), Puls, London 1995.

Literary criticism:

  • 1973, Ironia i harmonia ("Irony and Harmony"), Warsaw: Czytelnik[2]
  • 1974, Język poetycki Mirona Białoszewskiego ("Miron Bialoszewski's Poetic Language"), Wrocław: Ossolineum[2]
  • 1979, Etyka i poetyka ("Ethics and Poetics"), Paris: Instytut Literacki[2]
  • 1981, Książki najgorsze 1975-1980 ("The Worst Books"), Kraków: KOS[2]
  • 1984, Uciekinier z utopii. O poezji Zbigniewa Herberta ("Fugitive from Utopia: On the Poetry of Zbigniew Herbert"), London: Polonia[2]
  • 1990, Tablica z Macondo. Osiemnaście prób wytłumaczenia, po co i dlaczego się pisze ("A License Plate from Macondo: Eighteen Attempts at Explaining Why One Writes"), London: Aneks[2]
  • 1992, Ocalone w tlumaczeniu. Szkice o warsztacie tlumaczenia poezji ("Saved in Translation: Sketches on the Craft of Translating Poetry"), Poznan: a5[2]
  • 1996, Poezja i duch uogólnienia. Wybór esejów 1970-1995 ("Poetry and the Spirit of Generalization: Selected Essays"), Kraków: Znak[2]


  • into English:
  • into German (anthologies):
    • 1997: Panorama der Polnischen literatur des 20 Jahrhunderts, Zürich: Ammann
    • 1997: Polnische Lyrik Aus 100 Jahren, Gifkendorf: Merlin


  1. ^ a b c d Tara Merrigan (October 2, 2012). "Even When No One is Looking". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved October 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Web page titled "Rymkiewicz Jaroslaw Marek", at the Institute Ksiazki website (in Polish), "Bibliography: Poetry" section, retrieved February 24, 2010

External links[edit]