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Wisława Szymborska


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Fundacja Wisławy Szymborskiej ul. Krupnicza 26, 31-123 Kraków tel. 505 100 616 biuro@szymborska.org.pl
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Chronology

 

1923   On 2 July, in Kórnik near Poznan, a daughter is born to Anna Maria née Rottermund and Wincenty Szymborski, the steward of Count Zamoyski’s estates.

2 September, Mr and Mrs Szymborski’s daughter is christened Maria Wisława Anna.

 

1924  After retiring, Wincenty Szymborski moves to Torun, together with his wife and daughters, the older Maria Nawoja and the younger Maria Wisława.

 

1929   The family takes permanent residence in Krakow, at ul. Radziwiłłowska, in the townhouse purchased by Wincenty Szymborski.

 

1930   Wisława, called Ichna for short, is enrolled  in the first form at the J. Joteyko Primary School in ul. Podwale.

 

1935   Admitted to the Ursulan Sisters’ Grammar School (Gimnazjum) at ul. Starowiślna in Krakow.

 

1936   Wincenty Szymborski dies at 66.

 

1941   Spring Wisława passes her matura examinations, concluding her secondary school attendance in the underground educational system during the German occupation of Poland.

 

1942   28 February is the date written under the earliest surviving poem by Wisława Szymborska, entitled Topielec. Poemat epiczny w II pieśniach (Drowning. An Epic Poem in II Cantos).

 

1943   Takes an office job with the railways, to avoid deportation to Germany for forced labour.

 

1944   Some of the poems written in this year Wisława Szymborska will consider worthy of print after the war.

 

1945   14 March    Has her debut in "Walka", a supplement to the "Dziennik Polski" daily published in Krakow, with the poem Szukam Słowa (Looking for a Word), which the editors have abridged by half as they considered it ‘too wordy’.

Autumn  Enrols at the Jagiellonian University to read Polish Philology, and subsequently Sociology. She will not complete any of these degree courses.

 

1947–1948  Works as an assistant editor for the biweekly magazine "Świetlica Krakowska", and designs book illustrations.

 

1948   April  Marries Adam Włodek, a poet, translator and literary critic, and moves from her parents’ home to the Writers’ Home at ul. Krupnicza 22, where Krakow’s authors were amassed in collective lodging by the authorities after the war.

 

1950  Joins the United Polish Workers’ Party (PZPR, the ruling communist party).

 

1952  Her first book of poems, Dlatego żyjemy (That’s What We Live For) is published by Czytelnik (1,140 copies), which provides sufficient grounds for her to become a member of the Polish Writers’ Union (ZLP). She will not have any poem from this book included in the subsequent publications of her selected works.

A poem from this volume, Gdy nad kołyską Ludowej Konstytucji do wspomnień sięga stara robotnica (When an Old Woman Worker Reminisces at the Cradle of the People’s Constitution) wins a prize in a competition sponsored by the Minister of Culture and Art, ZLP and the Polish Journalists’ Association (SDP).

 

1953  January  Becomes the head of the poetry section in the weekly magazine "Życie Literackie".

March   After Joseph Stalin’s death, a special issue of "Życie Literackie" publishes Szymborska’s poem Ten dzień (This Day), for which she will be fiercely attacked years later, in independent Poland. ‘I wrote it out of my heart; it’s something that is impossible to understand today,’ she will say, reminiscing on that time.

 

1954   Divorces Adam Włodek; they will remain friends until his death.

Spring   Travels abroad for the first time in her life, as part of a cultural exchange, to Bulgaria. During her stay there, her guide is Blaga Dimitrova, a poet and translator, the future Vice President of Bulgaria in the 1990s.

Her book of poems Pytania zadawane sobie (Questions Put to Myself) is published by Wydawnictwo Literackie (1,175 copies).

The 2nd edition of Dlatego żyjemy is released by Czytelnik (2,101 copies).

Receives the Literary Prize of the City of Krakow for her two volumes of poetry.

 

1955   Receives a commendation for Pytania zadawane sobie from the jury granting the State Prize for literature.

Autumn Travels to Slovakia as part of a cultural exchange, to attend a meeting with Slovak writers.

Receives the Golden Cross of Merit for ‘achievement in literature and art’.

 

1957   Autumn    Travels to the West for the first time in her life, on a scholarship to Paris.

Her book of poems Wołanie do Yeti (Calling Out to Yeti) is published by Wydawnictwo Literackie (1,135 copies).

 

1958   10 January  Together with Jan Józef Szczepański and Sławomir Mrożek, she visits Jerzy Giedroyć, the editor of the Polish magazine "Kultura" published in France, at Maisons­Lafitte near Paris.

 

1960  Together with Włodzimierz Maciąg, she starts the ‘Literary Mail’ column in Życie Literackie magazine, to answer letters and manuscripts sent in by young people aspiring to become writers.

Together with a delegation of Polish writers, she travels to Moscow and Leningrad in Soviet Russia, and on to Sukhumi in Soviet Georgia.

Anna Maria Szymborska dies at 71.

 

1962   Her book of poems Sól (Salt) is published by Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (1,750 copies).

 

1963   14–17 August  Takes part in meetings of Polish and Danish writers at the People’s College in Krogerup near Copenhagen.

Autumn   Leaves the ‘literary kolkhoz’ at ul. Krupnicza 22 and moves to a studio flat on the fifth floor of a high-rise block of flats on the corner of ul. 18 Stycznia (ul. Królewska today) and ul. Nowowiejska, which she calls ‘a drawer’ due to its size.

November Travels to Yugoslavia with a group of writers. After a sightseeing tour of Dalmatia, she goes to Macedonia and visits the city of Skopje, severely damaged by the recent earthquake.

Receives the Prize of the Minister of Culture and Art (2nd degree) for Sól.

 

1964    Wiersze wybrane (Selected Poems) is published by Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (4,290 copies).

 

1965   At the International Song Festival in Sopot, Łucja Prus performs the song ‘Nic dwa razy się nie zdarza’ set to Wisława Szymborska’s poem Nothing Twice (the poet has consented for the first time to the performance of a song based on her poem, and even to a revision in the second line, so that – in the song – the words: ‘Nothing ever happens twice / and never will. For this reason…’ are replaced with: ‘Nothing ever happens twice / and probably for this reason…’.

 

1966  Wisława Szymborska sends in her PZPR membership card as a gesture of solidarity with Leszek Kołakowski who has been ousted from the communist party, and consequently is dismissed from her position as head of the poetry section and full-time editor of  "Życie Literackie".

 

1967  11 June  "Życie Literackie" publishes her first review contribution in the new column Beyond the Obligatory Reading List (Lektury nadobowiązkowa), which she will continue to write – at varying intervals – till 2002. In each of them, she discusses (in a single paragraph about one typed page long) a book outside the mainstream, usually ignored by other reviewers.

Autumn   Spends some time in Paris and in the south of France, subsequently in Spain.

Her book of poems Sto pociech (A Hundred Joys, aka No End of Fun in English) is published by Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (3,225 copies).

Poezje wybrane (Selected Poetry) is released by Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza (10,320 copies) with her own introduction and selection of poems.

 

1968  Summer and autumn   A threat of lung disease forces Wisława Szymborska to spend several months in a tuberculosis sanatorium.

 

1969   The photo albums compiled by Kornel Filipowicz throughout his lifetime begin to feature photographs of Wisława Szymborska in 1969. Their relationship will last until Filipowicz’s death in 1990.

12 June   For the first time since her departure in 1924, Szymborska visits her hometown of Kórnik, invited by Ryszard Krynicki, an employee of the local library.

 

1970   She attends the Poetry Biennial at Knokke near Ostend, Belgium.

Her Poezje (Poetry) is released by Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (5,260 copies) with a preface by Jerzy Kwiatkowski.

Her Wybór poezji (A Selection of Poetry) is published by Czytelnik (15,290 copies).

1972  Her book of poems Wszelki wypadek (Could Have) is published by Czytelnik (8,280 copies).

Wisława Szymborska and Kornel Filipowicz visit the Frankfurt Book Fair in West Germany.

1973   April Together with Kornel Filipowicz, she goes on a tour of ‘author evenings’ in Germany and the Netherlands.

16 May   This date – ‘May 16, 1973’ – will be the title of a poem in her book Koniec i początek (The End and the Beginning, 1993): ‘One of those many dates / that no longer ring a bell. / Where I was going that day, / what I was doing – I don’t know.’ (trans. Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh)

The first book edition of her columns Beyond the Obligatory Reading List is published: Lektury nadobowiązkowe, to run into a number of revised editions in subsequent years, to include recent reviews.

Wybór wierszy (A Selection of Poems) is published by Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (20,290 copies).

 

1974   Wisława Szymborska is awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta.

 

1975   Signs an open letter to the Sejm (Lower House of Parliament) about the proposed amendments to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Poland, known as the Letter of Fifty-Nine. In it, intellectuals protest against including new provisions about the alliance with the Soviet Union and the ‘steering role’ of the communist party in the constitution.

The 2nd edition of Wszelki wypadek is published by Czytelnik (10,265 copies).

 

1976   As part of the reprisals for signing the Letter of Fifty-Nine, SB (Security Service, the communist state’s secret police) instructs the Passport Office to prevent ‘all travels of the person indicated [Wisława Szymborska] to capitalist countries. This applies to private and business trips alike.’

Her book of poems Wielka liczba (A Large Number) is published by Czytelnik (10,280 copies).

A bibliophile edition of a selection of Szymborska’s poems – Tarsjusz i inne wiersze (Tarsier and Other Poems) with illustrations by Barbara Gawdzik-Brzozowska is released by Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza (860 numbered copies).

 

1977   The 2nd edition of Wielka liczba is published by Czytelnik (10,290 copies).

The 2nd edition of Poezje is released by Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (10,290 copies).

1978   Signs the founding declaration of the Society for Educational Courses, an institution affiliated to the Workers’ Defence Committee (KOR), involved in organizing lectures on history, literature and economics independently of the formal educational system.

 

1979   The 2nd edition of Wybór wierszy is published by Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (30,315 copies).

 

1980    November   Signs an open letter to the State Council with an appeal to mitigate the sentences passed in the trial of the Kowalczyk brothers, sentenced to many years of imprisonment for blowing up the auditorium of the College of Education (WSP) in Opole back in 1970.

 

1981   Becomes a contributor to "Pismo" monthly, a new literary magazine based in Krakow, where Kornel Filipowicz is deputy editor-in-chief.

The first ever selection of her poems in English translation (by Magnus J. Kryński and Robert A. Maguire) is published by Princeton University Press: Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts: Seventy Poems.

December   After the proclamation of martial law in Poland, she discontinues her contributions to "Życie Literackie" and her name is removed from the list of editors and contributors published in every issue of the magazine.

 

1982   Autumn   Moves to a one-bedroom flat in a block of flats at ul. Chocimska (fourth floor, no lift) in Krakow.

 

1983   Becomes a contributor to "Tygodnik Powszechny", a weekly magazine for Catholic intellectuals, which publishes her poem The Century’s Decline (Schyłek wieku).

4 December  At the quarters of the Club of Catholic Intelligentsia in Krakow, reading out her poem An Opinion on the Question of Pornography (Głos w sprawie pornografii) Szymborska inaugurates the first issue of "NaGłos" ("OutLoud"), a ‘spoken magazine’, independent of government censorship. She will continue to contribute to it in the following years, also in its printed version. Special printed issues of "NaGłos" devoted to Wisława Szymborska will come out in 1993 (no. 12) and 1996 (no. 24).

The 2nd edition of Poezje wybrane, a selection made by the poet herself, is published by Ludowa Spółdzielnia Wydawnicza (10,330 copies).

 

1985   May  Publishes her poem Dialektyka i sztuka (Dialectic and Art) in the Paris-based periodical Kultura  and in the underground Arka, signing it with her penname Stańczykówna. She will never have it included in any collection of her poems.

 

1986   27 January   Adam Włodek, her former husband and always one of her best friends, dies.

Ten years after the previous one, a new book of her poems is published by Czytelnik: Ludzie na moście (The People on the Bridge; 20,320 copies), for which she will be honoured with the Cultural Prize of the underground Solidarity Trade Union and Odra monthly’s award (the poet turns down the Literary Fund Prize awarded by the Minister of Culture and Art).

 

1987   The 3rd edition of Poezje is published by Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy (50,200 copies).

1988   Wisława Szymborska is one of the founding members of the Association of Polish Writers (SPP), a society of authors connected with the political opposition. She also becomes a member of the Pen Club.

The 2nd edition of Ludzie na moście is published by Czytelnik (20,000 copies).

 

1989  A Polish-English edition of Poezje. Poems (trans. Magnus J. Kryński and Robert .A. Maguire) is published by Wydawnictwo Literackie.

 

1990   28 February  Kornel Filipowicz dies.

Wisława Szymborska receives the Zygmunt Kallenbach Prize awarded by the jury of the Kościelski Prize for Ludzie na moście, hailed as the most significant book of the decade. The prize is named after the deceased president of the Kościelski Foundation, Z. Kallenbach.

 

1991  28 August   At St Paul’s Church in Frankfurt am Main, the prestigious Goethe Prize is presented to Wisława Szymborska (some its previous recipients include Sigmund Freud, Karl Jaspers, Hermann Hesse, and Thomas Mann).

She travels to Prague for a series of meetings with readers, organized by the Polish Institute and Embassy in that city.

A large selection of her poems appears in English in the anthology Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule: Spoiling Cannibals’ Fun, translated and edited by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh, and published by Northwestern Unviersity Press.

 

1992   10 September  Travels to Poznan, to take part in an author’s evening as part of the Literary Thursdays at the Działyński Palace. Visits Kórnik, her hometown.

 

21 October  Attends "NaGłos" magazine’s literary soirée dedicated to Czesławo Miłosz at the Puget Palace in Krakow.

 

1993   May  Travels to Stockholm to hold an author’s evening at the Royal Dramatic Theatre.

27 October  Attends a "NaGłos" literary soirée in Poznan, dedicated to Stanisław Barańczak.

Travels to London to a ‘meeting with an author’ organized by the Polish Institute.

Her book of poems Koniec i początek (The End and the Beginning) is published by Wydawnictwo a5, including the poem she wrote after Filipowicz’s death, Cat in an Empty Apartment (Kot w pustym mieszkaniu).

 

1995   May  Receives an honorary doctorate from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. In his laudatory speech, Professor Edward says: ‘The poetry of Wisława Szymborska is a poetry of great questions. The critics have found philosophical inspirations in it; it is a philosophy without limits or delimitations, refusing to be reduced to an exegesis of language, or decreased to the dimensions of a game of definitions; it is broadly open to metaphysics, engaging in the debate on the existence of the world.’

Wisława Szymborska becomes a member of the Polish Academy of Learning (PAU).

Receives the Austrian Herder Prize. The presentation speech is delivered by Professor Reinhard Lauer of the Göttingen University, saying: ‘Her poetry is riveting; you can’t read enough of it to feel satiated. And when you read it, your mind is refreshed and brightened; you can’t avoid discovering that the ésprit polonais is of the feminine gender.’

 

1996   January   Rzadki motyl (A Rare Butterfly) appears, a collection of short stories by Kornel Filipowicz, selected and prefaced by Wisława Szymborska.

 

30   September  Wisława Szymborska receives the Pen Club Prize for lifetime achievement in poetry.

Her own selection of her poems is published as Widok z ziarnkiem piasku by Wydawnictwo a5 (also in an English edition: View with a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems, trans. C. Cavanagh, S. Barańczak; Harcourt Brace and Company).

3 October   The Swedish Academy honours Wisława Szymborska with the Nobel Prize for Literature, pointing out in the citation that her poetry ‘with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.’

10 November   The poet takes part in a ‘meeting with the author’ on the Main Stage of the Stary Theatre  in Krakow, promoting Widok z ziarnkiem piasku and a selection of major critical writings about her poetry published by Znak, Radość czytania Szymborskiej (The Joy of Reading Szymborska)

6 December  Leaves for Stockholm where she will spend a week, attending the formal functions related to the presentation of the Nobel Prize (10 December). In her Nobel Prize address, she says: ‘I value that little phrase "I don't know" so highly. It’s small, but it flies on mighty wings.’

Another bilingual selection of her poems is published by Wydawnictwo Literackie, in English translation by C. Cavanagh and S. Barańczak: Nothing Twice: Selected Poems / Nic Dwa Razy: Wybór Wierszy.

 

1997   April   In Darmstadt, she visits Karl Dedecius, her German translator. They travel to Frankfurt and Berlin to attend meetings with readers.

9 May Together with Czesław Miłosz, she takes part in the Warsaw Literature Days. A meeting with the two Nobel Prize winning poets is held at the Royal Castle.

18 June   Nawoja, Wisława’s sister, dies.

4–6 October   Wisława Szymborska and Czesław Miłosz are the patrons of the Krakow Meeting of Poets from the East and the West.

5 October   Hosts an evening of poetry at Krakow’s Tempel Synagogue, giving a reading of her works – as do other poets from various parts of the world. The poems are interspersed with trumpet improvisations by the jazz musician Tomasz Stańko, who the poet will henceforth gladly invite to play during her poetry readings.

November She moves to a larger flat in a modern block of flats at ul. Piastowska in Krakow.

 

1998  31 January   Sends a letter to the Gazeta Wyborcza daily with a statement that she is not the author of the poem Jak ja się czuję (How I Feel), which has been circulating around country, reputedly as hers.

11 March   In a special session, the City Council confers the title of Honorary Citizen of the City of Krakow on Wisława Szymborska ‘for her contribution to developing the beauty of the Polish language, the dissemination of Polish culture, and spreading the fame of Krakow.’

27–29   October   Attends the conference on ‘The Life and Work of Kornel Filipowicz’ at the College of Education (WSP) in Krakow.

 

1999   22 October   Takes part in an event at the Centre for Jewish Culture promoting Joanna Helander’s book of photographs Gdyby ta Polka była w Szwecji (If This Pole Were in Sweden), documenting the time she spent in Sweden in connection with the Nobel Prize presentation.

 

2000   May  Another Wiersze wybrane (Selected Poems) is published by Wydawnictwo a5. The poems have been selected and arranged by the poet. More editions, revised and enhanced, will appear in subsequent years.

Wisława Szymborska takes a week to see the sights of Venice, accompanied by Maria Makuch, with Joanna and Jerzy Illg.

October   Znak publishes Burzliwe fortuny obroty (Fortune’s Turbulent Turns), the memoirs of Antoni Szymborski, Wisława’s grandfather, who took part in the Wielkopolska Uprising, became an officer when serving under General Józef Bem in Hungary, and finally commanded a detachment of insurgents during the January Uprising. In the course of and in between these military endeavours, he travelled around Europe and America, and even tried his hand at gold digging in California.

3 October  Wisława Szymborska attends a meeting of Nobel Prize winners in Vilnius. Czesław Miłosz and Günter Grass (as well as Tomas Venclova) take part in a debate on the ethnic relations in Central and Eastern Europe; Szymborska gives a reading of her poem Hatred (Nienawiść).

17 October  Together with Czesław Miłosz, and also the two Foreign Ministers, Władysław Bartoszewski and Joschka Fischer, Wisława Szymborska opens the Polish Year at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

27 October   Attends a meeting at the State Theatre School (PWST) in Krakow, promoting her grandfather Antoni’s book (‘I never had a chance to meet him because I was born forty years after his death’).

November   Poczta literacka, czyli jak zostać (lub nie zostać) pisarzem (Literary Mail, or How to Become (or Not to Become) a Writer) is published by Wydawnictwo Literackie, a selection of humorous answers given by Szymborska over a period of more than ten years in an advice column in Życie Literackie, compiled by Teresa Walas.

10–13 November   Wisława Szymborska and Czesław Miłosz are the patrons of the Second Krakow Meeting of Poets: ‘Poetry: Between Song and Prayer’.

10 November  Takes part in a poetry evening at St Catherine’s Church in Krakow and gives a reading of her poems.

10 December  Attends an evening organized to promote Poczta literacka in the Mehoffer Room at the offices of Wydawnictwo Literackie.

Initiates the publication of Godzina dla Adama (An Hour for Adam) by Wydawnictwo Literackie, a book of memories about Adam Włodek. In addition to writing her own memories, she has selected his poems for this publication.

 

2001   Wisława Szymborska is proclaimed an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. ‘I usually try to avoid all manner of accolades, honours, and titles because they make me feel embarrassed,’ she says during the presentation of the membership diploma at the American Consulate in Krakow. ‘But in this case my vanity has won out.’

The largest selection of her verse in English to date, Poems New and Collected, is published by Harcourt, in a translation by C. Cavanagh and S. Barańczak.

 

2002   August   Her book of poems Chwila – the first one since the Nobel Prize – is published by Znak (subsequently in a bilingual edition as Chwila / Moment in English translation by C. Cavanagh and S. Barańczak, 2003).

14 September   Wisława Szymborska comes to Warsaw to promote Chwila in the Polish Radio’s Agnieszka Osiecka Concert Studio.

September   Another (sixth) volume of her review columns is published by Wydawnictwo Literackie: Nowe lektury nadobowiązkowe.

18 September   A promotional evening is held in the Mehoffer Room at Wydawnictwo Literackie to promote the new book of Szymborska’s columns.

24 October   Wisława Szymborska attends an author’s evening at the State Theatre School (PWST) in Krakow and gives a reading of poems from Chwila.

 

2003   May  Travels to Stockholm to promote a new selection of her poems translated into Swedish by Anders Bodegård.

Nominated for the Nike Literary Award for Chwila, which will be shortlisted to the final seven.

A collection of her humorous poems, Rymowanki dla dużych dzieci (Rhymes for Big Kids) is published by Wydawnictwo a5, some in classical verse forms, such as the limerick or the epitaph, others in new ones, invented by Szymborska herself (Polish: moskalik, lepiej, odwódka, altruitka, podsłuchaniec).

9 June  An evening of Wisława Szymborska’s poetry is held at the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakow in connection with the publication of Rymowanki dla dużych dzieci and Wiersze wybrane (Wydawnictwo a5).

27 October   Visits Cieszyn to attend the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Kornel Filipowicz in connection with the 90th anniversary of his birth.

7 November  Travels to Italy, to take part in an author’s evening organized by Jarosław Mikołajewski, Director of the Polish Institute in Rome.

A bibliophile edition of the book Wisława Szymborska, Wiersze, Elka Hołoweńko-Matuszewska, Zielniki (Wisława Szymborska, Poems, Elka Hołoweńko-Matuszewska, Herbaria) is published by Wydawnictwo Bosz.

 

2004   December   Spends a week in Israel, invited to take part in events celebrating the 700 years of the Jewish Community in Krakow.

 

2005   May  Travels to Turin and Genoa, to take part in meetings with readers.

14 September  As part of the series of meetings titled Poetry Always, Jerzy Illg hosts a poets’ evening at the Tempel Synagogue, attended by Yusef Komunyakaa, Edward Hirsch, and Ryszard Krynicki. Wisława Szymborska reads her new poems, to be included in the volume Dwukropek (Colon). The Janusz Muniak Quartet enhance the evening with their music.

October   Wisława Szymborska receives the Gloria Artis Gold Medal for Merit to Culture.

November   Her book of poems Dwukropek (Colon) is published by Wydawnictwo a5.

17 December   An author’s evening with Wisława Szymborska is held at the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakow, combined with the promotion of Tadeusz Nyczek’s book Tyle naraz świata. 27 × Szymborska (So Much World at Once. 27 × Szymborska), published by Wydawnictwo a5.

 

2006   May   Dwukropek is nominated for the Nike Award.

September   Dwukropek is voted the best book for the Nike Award by the readers of the "Gazeta  Wyborcza" daily.

Monologue of a Dog, a selection of her new poems is published in a Polish-English edition by Harcourt, in a translation by C. Cavanagh and S. Barańczak.

 

2007  May  Wisława Szymborska goes on an author’s tour of Italy. She also does some sightseeing in Tuscany (Siena and Pisa) and in Rome.

A collection of Kornel Filipowicz’s short stories on Jewish themes appears, selected and prefaced by Wisława Szymborska.

A Polish-German Edition of Sto wierszy – sto pociech. Hundert Gedichte – Hundert Freuden (A Hundred Poems – A Hundred Joys) is published by Wydawnictwo Literackie.

 

2008   A thematic selection of her poetry, Miłość szczęśliwa i inne wiersze (True Love and Other Poems) is released by Wydawnictwo a5.

14 February   On St Valentine’s Day, Wisława Szymborska gives a reading of her poems during an evening of love poetry at the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art and Technology in Krakow.

April   Invited by the Polish Institute in Rome, Wisława Szymborska travels to Sicily, to hold author evenings in Palermo and Catania.

July  After visiting Limerick in Ireland, she travels to Amsterdam and The Hague, where she views paintings by Vermeer, her most favoured artist, in the local museums. She is accompanied by Katarzyna Kolenda­Zaleska’s film crew working on a documentary about the poet.

 

November   Oficyna Wydawnicza AURIGA publishes a biographical ‘scrap book’ entitled Wisławy Szymborskiej Dary przyjaźni i dowcipu. Teksty i wyklejanki poetki z kolekcji Ryszarda Matuszewskiego (Wisława Szymborska’s Gifts of Friendship and Wit. The Poet’s Texts and Pasted Cutouts  from the Collection  of Ryszard Matuszewski; 4,000 copies).

 

2009   January   Her book of poems Tutaj is published by Znak (its 2010 English edition, Here, translated by C. Cavanagh and S. Barańczak and released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, will additionally include some poems from Dwukropek).

27 January  The Krakow Opera House holds a promotional evening for the book Tutaj. The poet is accompanied by Tomasz Stańko on the trumpet.

March/Aprils   Author evenings with Wisława Szymborska in Bologna and Udine attract thousands of Italian readers.

23 October   A poetry evening with Wisława Szymborska, Seamus Heaney and Tomas Venclova inaugurates the first edition of the Czesław Miłosz Literary Festival in Krakow.

 

2010   May  Attends the Prague Book Fair.

4 May   Attends the ‘Cinema at the Border’ Film Festival in Cieszyn, to take part in the showings of films based on Kornel Filipowicz’s short stories.  The book Tutaj is nominated for the Nike Award. The poet utters an appeal to the jury to disregard her nomination.

September   A four-disc album is published by Wydawnictwo Agora, with recordings of Wisława Szymborska reading her poems (41 works), as well as songs set to her poems and performed by nine singers, and Katarzyna Kolenda­Zaleska’s documentary film Sometimes Life Is Bearable. A Wicked Portrait of Wisława Szymborska (Chwilami życie bywa znośne – przewrotny portret Wisławy Szymborskiej).

27 October   An author’s evening with Wisława Szymborska is held at the Polish Radio’s Agnieszka Osiecka Concert Studio and broadcast live as part of the Klub Trójki (Channel 3 Club) programme.

A book of memories and reminiscences of and about Kornel Filipowicz, Byliśmy u Kornela. Rzecz o Kornelu Filipowiczu, is published by Wydawnictwo Literackie at her initiative. It contains her poem Portrait from Memory (Portret z pamięci).

 

2011  January   Wisława Szymborska is honoured with Poland’s highest decoration, the Order of the White Eagle.

14 May   Wisława Szymborska’s last public appearance: she gives a reading of poems at the Corpus Christi Church, together with Julia Hartwig, Lars Gustafsson and Ashok Wajpeyi, as part of the second edition of the Czesław Miłosz Literary Festival in Krakow.

September  Another thematic collection of Wisława Szymborska’s poems, Milczenie roślin (The Silence of Plants), with photographs by Joanna Gromek-Illg, is published by Znak.

 

2012   1 February   Wisława Szymborska dies at home in her sleep.

April   The last – unfinished – book of her poems is published by Wydawnictwo a5: Wystarczy (Enough).

 

Prepared by Joanna Szczęsna

 

 

Short biography

Wisława Szymborska - born 2 July 1923 in Kórnik, Poznań province; died 1 February 2012 in Kraków. From 1931 she lived in Kraków, and between 1945-48 she studied Polish.

Literature and Sociology at the Jagiellonian University. She made her debut in March 1945 with the poem Looking for Words published in a supplement to the daily newspaper "Dziennik Polski".

From 1953 to 1981 she worked on the Krakow-based weekly magazine "Życie Literackie", where she ran the poetry column and the book review column "Lektury nadobowiązkowe" (later resumed as  "Gazeta o Książkach" in the supplement to Gazeta Wyborcza). Several books collecting these essays have been published.

Szymborska published 13 collections of poetry: That's Why We Are Alive (1952), Questioning Yourself (1954), Calling Out to Yeti (1957), Salt (1962), No End of Fun (1967), Could Have (1972), A Large Number (1976), People on the Bridge (1986), The End and the Beginning (1993, 1996), Moment (2002), Colon (2005), and Here (2009), as well as an unfinished collection published posthumously, Enough (2012). 

 

Szymborska's poetry has been translated into over forty languages. She also translated poetry herself, mainly from French and German. In 1991 she received the Goethe Prize. In 1995 she won the Herder Prize, and in May of that same year, she was awarded the honorary degree honoris causa by Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. In 1996, Wisława Szymborska received the Polish PEN Club award and the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 2001 she became an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2011 she was awarded the highest Polish national decoration, the Order of the White Eagle.

 

 

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