In more than seventy poems gathered in I’m Half of Your Heart: Selected Poems, 1967-2017, we encounter a poet who is as politically outspoken as he is lyrically private. Fascinated by the quotidian bric-a-brac, keenly attuned to the plight of the less fortunate among us, and immersed in timeless philosophical, historical, and aesthetic peregrinations, Julian Kornhauser remains our contemporary by speaking loud and clear about what it is that makes us human.
This career-spanning volume, which includes a foreword by Paul Vangelisti and an afterword by Jacek Gutorow, provides readers in the English-speaking world with the largest ever selection of poems by one of Poland’s premier poets. Sandpoint, Idaho: Lost Horse Press, 2018.
Reading I’m Half of Your Heart, Selected Poems:1967-2017, by Julian Kornhauser, one follows a poet’s vision for fifty years, witnessing the unfolding of his intelligence, play and almost religious attention to the ordinary objects of our shared world. The title of the book comes from a poem set almost center, and although one assumes it to be the poet speaking to the one he loves, perhaps even the reader, it becomes even more intimate as we discover it is literally half of his own heart speaking. I’m half of your heart/that beats from time to time, usually early morning.…I’m made up/of two unequal parts: of laughter, when/ I open my eyelids, and of sadness, when/ I close them. In the manner of Ponge or Herbert he enters the objects of our world and makes them shine. The poems are often paratactic in structure, as one can read in The Golden Bridge, where through playful and brilliant luminosity the speaker himself lifts and flies above his poem, noting the whole history of place from prison, shotguns, cannons and chatty drunks, to the jewel box of Chinatown and the small porcelain figurine in an antique shop. This telescopic vision of history focused through its microscopic particulars is the gift of Kornhauser’s vision, and Piotr Florczyk, his translator, brings great elegance and clarity to the page, as well as to the order of the poems. Creating an organic design from the poet’s body of work he closes with Eternity//people die/ivy grows/mallows release a scent/eternity short as a song/an unfinished song.
—Sandra Alcosser, author of A Fish to Feed All Hunger
“It’s hard not to be astonished,” Julian Kornhauser writes of a paper bag filled with wind and caught in a tree’s limbs—a metaphor perhaps of “fragile” aspirations. A peer of Adam Zagajewski, Stanisław Barańczak, and Ryszard Krynicki, Kornhauser emerged as a central figure of the Polish Generation ‘68—those whose hope for a new liberal order had “a short breath.” Young, progressive American readers, frustrated by the reactionary nationalism of our own cultural revanchist moment, will find in these finely attuned translations by Piotr Florczyk, a wise, tough-minded ally.
—David Axelrod, author of The Open Hand