"Zagajewski is known as the poet who helped soothe thousands of wounded American hearts after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Two weeks after the tragedy, the New Yorker magazine published his work, Try to Praise the Mutilated World on its back page, instead of the normal cartoons. The poem struck a chord with readers and was widely circulated." (City of Beijing) Biography
Adam Zagajewski (b. 1945) was born in the city of Lwów (now Lvov, Ukrainian SSR), but was forced to leave as an infant when the Red Army occupied the city. After studying philosophy at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, he emigrated to Paris, where he would remain until 2002. He began writing poetry in the 1970s and helped lead the movement that would come to be known as the Polish New Wave. He is one of Poland's most famous contemporary poets. In 2010, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. (World Literature Today)
Zagajewski was considered one of the "Generation of '68" or "New Wave" writers in Poland; his early work was protest poetry, though he has moved away from that emphasis in his later work. The reviewer Joachim T. Baer noted in World Literature Today that Zagajewski's themes "are the night, dreams, history and time, infinity and eternity, silence and death." The titles of his collections of poetry suggest some of these concerns: Tremor (1985), Mysticism for Beginners (1997), and World Without End: New and Selected Poems (2002).
Writing of Zagajewski's 1991 collection of poems, Canvas, poet and reviewer Robert Pinsky commented that the poems are "about the presence of the past in ordinary life: history not as chronicle of the dead, or an anima to be illuminated by some doctrine, but as an immense, sometimes subtle force inhering in what people see and feel every day - and in the ways we see and feel."
His poems and essays have been translated into many languages.
Since 1988, he has served as Visiting Associate Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. He is currently co-editor of Zyszyty literackie (Literary Review), which is published in Paris. Adam Zagajewski lives in Paris and Houston. (Poetry Foundation)