Bruno Jasieński was a poet, prosaist, and dramaturgist. He was born on 17th July 1901 in Klimontowo, in the vicinity of Sandomierz. He is believed to have been executed on 17th September 1938 and buried in Butovo near Moscow.
Poet, prose writer, playwright. Born on 17 July 1901 in Klimontów near Sandomierz, died tragically, most probably executed on 17 September 1938 and buried in Butowo near Moscow.
His tremendous (and tragic) fate limited his life to a short one of 37 years. Still, nowadays, Bruno Jasieński (born name Wiktor Zysman, his parents changed his last name while he was a child and he took the name Bruno later) is considered to be one of Polish futurism’s most prominent creators.
He was born on 17th July 1901 in Klimontowo near Sandomierz into the family of a provincial doctor. He went to a gymnasium in Warsaw, and later, after the outbreak of World War I, in Moscow. In Russia, he attentively observed the revolutionary literary avant-garde. From 1918, he lived in Kraków, where he studied Polish philology at Jagiellonian University. There he met his senior futurists: Tytus Czyżewski and Stanisław Młodożeniec. Together, they formed the futurist Katarynka club which held poetry readings starting in 1920.
At the beginning of the 1920s, Jasieński became known as an author of editorial articles (among others: To the Polish Nation: A Manifesto on the Immediate Futurisation of Life,A Manifesto Regarding Futuristic Poetry and the famous daily Knife in the Stomach). He also worked with avant-garde magazines (Zwrotnica and Almanach Nowej Sztuki) and, after 1923, affiliated himself with the communist left.
Outsiders, Visionaries & Fighters: The Avant-Garde Films of Interwar Poland
The first stage of Jasieński’s activity as a poet commenced in the early 1920s. The poems published in the book Shoe in a Buttonhole (1921) demonstrated his fascination with Russian Ego-Futurism, the sentimental-decadent school and anti-traditionalism. Later, he was inspired by Majakowski’s poetry (1923’s Song of Hunger and 1924’s Earth Leftwards together with Anatol Stern). He was a revolutionist and a futurist both in message and language. His metaphors excelled in eccentricity and images were often characterised by hyperbole. It was also evident in his prose (the 1923 micro-story The Legs of Izolda Morgan).
Meanwhile, after harassment from the censors and the police, Jasieński left for France in 1925, where he conducted cultural and theatrical activity. Word about Jakub Szela, a 1926 poem using the poetics of a folk song, was written by Jasieński at that time. In Paris, he also wrote a catastrophic novel titled I Burn Paris (1928). After announcing a translation of the text in L'Humanité, he was expelled by the French authorities.
1918 Going On 2118: The Rise Of Futurism In Reborn Poland
From 1929, he lived in the USSR. In the 1930s, he became engaged in Russian culture and language. He acquired Soviet citizenship, joined CPSU and became a member of the General Board of the Union of Soviet Writers. He joined the councils of several newspapers. Continuously, he engaged in political and propaganda work. Novels, novellas and reportages written by Jasieński at that time are now considered to be Soviet literature.
In the late 1930s, he was accused of ‘ideological alienation’ and, afterwards, would not experience freedom until his final days. He was exiled to Kolyma and supposedly contracted typhus – in older texts, his death was shrouded in mystery.
However, the most plausible version is that Bruno Jasieński was executed and buried in a mass grave in Butovo near Moscow. Piotr Mitzner claims that Jasieński, according to the NKVD’s records, died on 17th September 1938.
Tajik Star, Soviet Victim
20th century avant-garde
art of the interwar period
Collections and selected writings:
- Poetic Works, Manifestos, Sketches, Edited by Edward Balcerzan. Wydawnictwo Ossolineum, 1st Series, nr 211, Wrocław 1972.
- Shoe in a Buttonhole and Other Poems. Selection, afterword and explications by Krzysztof Jaworski. Wydawnictwo Iskry, Warsaw 2006.
Selected texts on the author:
- Edward Balcerzan, Styl i Poetyka Twórczości Dwujęzycznej Bruno Jasieńskiego. Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich - Wydawnictwo, Wrocław 1968.
- Anatol Stern, Bruno Jasieński. Wiedza Powszechna, Warsaw 1969.
- Janina Dziarnowska, Słowo o Brunonie Jasieńskim. Książka i Wiedza, Warsaw 1982.
- Krzysztof Jaworski, Bruno Jasieński w Paryżu (1925-1929). Wydawnictwo Akademii Świętokrzyskiej, Kielce 2003.
- Piotr Mitzner, Bruno Jasieński: Śmierć futurysty, "Karta", 1993, nr 11.
- Krzysztof Jaworski, Dandys: Słowo o Brunonie Jasieńskim. Iskry, Warsaw 2009
Originally written in Polish by Marcin Wilk, Dec 2007 as a part of the project of the internet-based Anthology of Polish poetry from the Middle Ages until the 21st Century, based on a concept by Piotr Matywiecki. Translated to English by Patryk Grabowski, Jan 2019.