John Guzlowski (born 1948) is a Polish-American author.
His mother Tekla Hanczarek came from a small community west of Lviv in what was then Poland where her father was a forest warden. His father Jan was born in a farming community north of Poznań. John was born Zbigniew Guzlowski in a Displaced Persons camp in Vienenburg, Germany in 1948, and changed his name to John when he was naturalized as an American citizen in 1968.
His parents, his sister Donna, and he came to the US as DPs in 1951. After working on farms in western New York State to pay off their passage to America, they eventually settled in Chicago in the city's old Polish Downtown in the vicinity of St. Fidelis Parish in Humboldt Park.
After attending the University of Illinois in Chicago, he completed a PhD in American literature at Purdue University. He taught literature and creative writing at Eastern Illinois University and retired in 2005.
He lives in Lynchburg, VA, with his wife Linda Calendrillo.
Growing up in Chicago's immigrant and displaced person neighborhoods, Guzlowski regularly interacted with Jewish hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish Cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead horses, and women who walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians. Guzlowski would later write that his written work as having been composed to "try to remember them and their voices".
Guzlowski earned his PhD in English at Purdue University in 1980, and is now retired from Eastern Illinois University, where he taught contemporary American literature and poetry writing. His poems deal with his parents' experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany. He has authored two books: Lightning and Ashes and Third Winter of War: Buchenwald (Finishing Line Press). These books continue the story of his parents that began in his chapbook Language of Mules which was republished as Język Mułów i Inne Wiersze, a Polish-English edition of this chapbook and other poems, and published by Biblioteka Śląska in Katowice, Poland. His poem “What My Father Believed” was read by Garrison Keillor on the Writers Almanac program. Other poems have appeared in a number of periodicals in the US, Poland, and Hungary, including Margie, Nimrod, Altlanta Review, Crab Orchard Review, Chattahoochee Review, Slask, and Ackent.
Professor Thomas Napierkowski has written that "John Guzlowski is arguably the most accomplished Polish-American poet on the contemporary scene, a writer who will figure prominently in any history of Polish-American literature; and 'Lightning and Ashes' firmly establishes Guzlowski's artistic standing not just in Polonia but in the world of American letters."
His essays on contemporary American and Polish authors can be found in such journals as Modern Fiction Studies, Shofar, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, Polish American Studies, Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, Studies in Jewish American Literature, and Polish Review.
John Guzlowski was the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award in 2001. In 2012, he received the Polish American Historical Association Creative Arts Award for his writing and his contribution to Polish American Letters.
- Language of Mules. Charleston, IL: DP Press, 1999.
- Lightning and Ashes. Bowling Green, KY: Steel Toe Books, 2007.
- Język Mułów i Inne Wiersze. Katowice, Poland, Biblioteka Śląska, 2002.
- Suitcase Charlie. Ravenswood Press, 2015.
- Echoes of Tattered Tongues: Memory Unfolded. Los Angeles: Aquila Polonica Press, 2016.
- Milosz, Czeslaw, “A Son of Prisoners,” Review of Bilingual Edition of Language of Mules/Język Mułów i Inne Wiersze. The Sarmatian Review, Issue no. 3, 2004. <http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~sarmatia/904/243milosz.html>.
- Napierkowski, Thomas, Lightning and Ashes: The Poetry of John Guzlowski. Polish American Studies 65.1 (2008): 25 pars. 8 Jul. 2011 <http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/pas/65.1/napierkowski.html>.