Poet, prose writer, playwright. Born on the 17th of July 1901 in Klimontów near Sandomierz, died tragically, most probably executed on the 17th of September 1938 and buried in Butowo 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.
Tytus Czyżewski, Portrait of Bruno Jasieński, 1920, oil, canvas, photography: courtesy of the Museum of Art in Łódź
His brilliant (but tragic) career was cut short when Jasieński was 37 years old. With regard to both poetry and his other activities, Bruno Jasieński [born Wiktor Zysman; his parents changed his surname to Jasieński in his childhood years, the poet assumed the name of Bruno later in his life] has till this day remained one of the most renowned artists of the Polish Futurism.
Jasieński was born on 17 July 1901 in Klimontów near Sandomierz into a family of a provincial doctor. He attended a secondary school in Warsaw. After the outbreak of the World War I he continued his education in Moscow. While in Russia, he carefully observed the revolution of the literary avant-garde. Beginning with 1918 Jasieński stayed in Kraków where he studied the Polish Studies at the Jagiellonian University. There, he met the Futurists of the older generation: Tytus Czyżewski and Stanisław Młodożeniec. Together, they founded the futurist club "Katarynka", which from 1920 on hosted poetry readings.
In the early 1920s Jasieński showed his talent as the author of manifestos (including Do narodu polskiego manifest w sprawie natychmiastowej futuryzacji życia / Manifesto to the Polish Nation For the Immediate Futurisation of Life; Manifest w sprawie poezji futurystycznej / Manifesto For the Futurist Poetry; as well as the co-author of the famous one-off issue Nuż w bżuhu / Nayf in the Abdomen). He also cooperated with avant-garde journals ("Zwrotnica" and "Almanach Nowej Sztuki"). After 1923 he joined the Communist left.
The beginnings of Jasieński’s career as a poet go back to the early 1920s. His texts published in the collection entitled But w butonierce / Shoe in a Buttonhole (1921) showed the poet’s fascination with the Russian Egofuturism, the sentimental and decadent movement and Anti-traditionalism. Later on (Pieśń o głodzie / Song of Hunger, 1923; Ziemia na lewo / Earth Leftwards, co-written with Anatol Stern, 1924) he reached for the poetry of Mayakovsky. Jasieński was a revolutionist and futurist both in content and language of his works. Eccentric metaphors and hyperboles were among the most often used rhetorical devices, also in prose writing (as in his micro-novel Nogi Izoldy Morgan / Legs of Izolda Morgan, 1923).
As a result of censorship and police persecutions, in 1925 Jasieński left for France where he was active in the field of culture and theatre. At that time, he published the poem Słowo o Jakubie Szeli / Song on Jakub Szela (1926) which followed the poetics of a folk song. In Paris, Jasieński also wrote a catastrophic novel Palę Paryż / I Burn Paris (1928). When the translation of the work was published in "L'Humanité", Jasieński was deported by the French authorities.
In 1929 Jasieński moved to the Soviet Union. During the 1930s he was active in the field of Russian culture and language. The poet received the Soviet citizenship, joined the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and became the member of the top management of the Association of Russian Writers. He also worked at the editorial boards of several journals (including "Kultura Mas" / "Culture of the Masses" and "Literatura Międzynarodowa" / "International Literature"). Jasieński was ceaselessly involved in the political and propaganda activities. His novellas, novels or documentary writing of that time are considered to be examples of Soviet literature.
At the end of the 1930s Jasieński was accused of "ideological alienation" and did not regain freedom until the end of his life. Sentenced to exile to Kolyma labour camp, he is said to die of typhoid. However, in various historical sources the death of the poet is shrouded in mystery.
Most probably, Bruno Jasieński was executed and buried in a mass grave in a collective cemetery in Butowo near Moscow. In his article, Piotr Mitzner writes that according the NKVD files Jasieński was executed on 17 September 1938.
Collected texts and selected works:
- "Utwory poetyckie, manifesty, szkice" / "Poetry, Manifestos, Sketches". Ed. Edward Balcerzan. Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich - Wydawnictwo, Biblioteka Narodowa, series I, no 211, Wrocław 1972.
- "But w butonierce i inne wiersze" / "Shoe in a Buttonhole and Other Poems". Selection, afterword and commentaries by Krzysztof Jaworski. Wydawnictwo Iskry, Warsaw 2006.
Selected critical studies on the poet:
- Edward Balcerzan, "Styl i poetyka twórczości dwujęzycznej Bruno Jasieńskiego" / "Style and Poetics of the Bilingual Works of Bruno Jasieński". Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich - Wydawnictwo, Wrocław 1968.
- Anatol Stern, "Bruno Jasieński". Wiedza Powszechna, Warsaw 1969.
- Janina Dziarnowska, "Słowo o Brunonie Jasieńskim" / "Song on Bruno Jasieński". Książka i Wiedza, Warsaw 1982.
- Krzysztof Jaworski, "Bruno Jasieński w Paryżu (1925-1929)" / "Bruno Jasieński in Paris" (1925-1929). Wydawnictwo Akademii Świętokrzyskiej, Kielce 2003.
- Piotr Mitzner, "Bruno Jasieński. Śmierć futurysty" / "Bruno Jasieński. Death of the Futurist", "Karta", 1993, no 11 [provides information regarding the date and circumstances of the poet’s death].
Author: Marcin Wilk, December 2007.
The text has been written for the purpose of the Internet project of Antologia polskiej poezji od Średniowiecza do wieku XXI / Anthology of Polish Poetry from the Middle Ages to the 21st Century based on the concept of Piotr Matywiecki.