Anna Frajlich, Polish Poet, Essayist and Scholar
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: In what languages does Anna Frajlich write poetry? And prose?
Anna Frajlich is one of the most eminent Polish poets, and one of the few Jewish poets to have gained general admiration in that country. She was born in 1942 in what is now Kyrgyzstan, where her parents had fled to escape the Nazis. After the war the family returned to Poland and Anna received her MA in Polish literature from Warsaw University. In 1969 she emigrated from Poland with her husband and son, and has lived in New York since 1970. Anna defended her Ph.D. dissertation in the Slavic Department of New York University in 1990 and is a Sr. Lecturer Emerita at Columbia University, where she has taught Polish language and literature for over three decades.
Her poetry, reviews, articles and essays have been published in various journals in Poland, the United States, and Europe. She is the author of 18 books of poetry, four of them bilingual Polish–English, Polish–French and Polish–Italian. A bilingual collection of her poetry was recently published in Spain with the title El tiempo no es un collar de perlas ( «Time is not a Pearl Necklace»).
Anna has been awarded numerous prizes for her work, including literary awards from Kościelski Foundation, Turzański Foundation, and the Union of Polish Writers in Exile. In 2002 she received The Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit, awarded by the President of the Polish Republic; in 2008 she received the honorary title of Ambassador of Szczecin, Poland, and in 2017 the Distinguished Pole Award in the USA in the category of culture. Her book of essays The Ghost of Shakespeare will be awarded the Polish American Historical Association’s Oskar Halecki Prize at their annual convention in January 2022
Anna’s writing shows a persistent preoccupation with the themes of exile, emigration, dislocation and adaptation to new cultural contexts. Her poems are sensitive and penetrating notations of her changing attitudes towards emigration, and of the complexities and ironies of émigré existence.
Anna has kindly offered to read one of her poems for us. It is called Easter in New York, from her book Wind Seeks Me Again, published in 2000 and translated into English by Ross Ufberg. She will read the original in Polish and she has asked me to read the English translation. The painting by Polish artist Tadeusz Blonski that illustrates this post was inspired by this poem.