*** 2017 Found in Translation Award winner
*** 2017 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation longlisted
*** 2017 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry longlisted
Anna Świrszczyńska’s Building the Barricade contains poems inspired by the poet’s participation in the Warsaw Uprising. This new translation, available in bilingual paperback and hardback editions, features an introduction by Eavan Boland. Portland, Oregon: Tavern Books, 2016.
Anna Świrszczyńska (a.k.a. Anna Swir) was born in 1909, in Warsaw, to an artistic though impoverished family. She worked from an early age, supporting herself while she attended university to study medieval Polish literature. In the 1930s she worked for a teachers’ association, served as an editor, and began publishing poetry. Świrszczyńska joined the Resistance during World War II and worked as a military nurse during the Warsaw Uprising; at one point she came within an hour of being executed before she was spared. She lived in Kraków from 1945 until her death from cancer in 1984.
“‘War made me another person,’ said Anna Świrszczyńska. Building the Barricade is the outcome of that change in that it took thirty years for these experiences to find their way into language. But the poem is also, undoubtedly, an agent of change, for us as well as her. Stanza by stanza we see the speaker transformed, stripped of anything but the terrible truths she is recording.”
—Eavan Boland, author of, most recently, A Woman Without a Country
“Anna Świrszczyńska’s elemental, extractive accountings of the Warsaw Uprising present a history of pain and of personhood so irremediable and unembellished that neither can be stripped from even the dead. Building the Barricade, harrowing and demanding, here takes its place in English among the twentieth century’s master works of war-witness.”
—Jane Hirshfield, author of, most recently, The Beauty