The Professor's Penknife - Tadeusz Różewicz
The symbol of the knife, which a good friend of the poet managed to hide during his time in a WWII concentration camp, is a reflection on the sharpness of memory and the pain it continues to influct even years on.
It used to be carried in the seam
of your camp overall,
as they confiscated knives,
and that could cost you dear.
This instrument, made from the hoop of a barrel, serves as the theme for the poem entitled The Professor's Penknife, one of the six poems in this volume. The knife belonged the well-known art historian Professor Mieczysław Porębski, a concentration camp survivor who managed to smuggle it into the prison. Critic Janusz Drzewucki wrote,
The poet, who celebrated his eightieth birthday this year, makes it clear in his new poems that he has less ahead of him than what he has already been through. The point is that what he has gone through, what he's seen, witnessed, and participated in gives him no peace. It wakes him up in the middle of the night and keeps on forcing him to think about it. The poet's memory is like an open wound.
Tadeusz Różewicz (b. 1921), an artist who defies definition and causes anxiety, a poet turned inwards towards silence and stillness. But he is also a classic of the Avant-Garde, a precursor of Postmodernism, a discloser of the inner experience.
- Tadeusz Różewicz
The Professor's Penknife / Nożyk profesora
Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, Wrocław 2001
translation rights: Tadeusz Różewicz, rights available
145 x 206, 67 pages, hardcover