A poet born in 1938 in Stawy near Dęblin.
The long road of poet Jerzy Górzański leads from youthful debuts influenced by the metaphoric gluttony of a poetry collective in the 1960s, ironic and painful poetry akin to that of Henri Michaux, toward the existential, subdued and at times grotesque poetry of the 1980s. Although he had already gained a significant degree of acclaim by that time, it was the 1997 Debiut z aniołem / Debut with an Angel that proved a turning point in his career, becoming a masterpiece of post-war lyricism. Górzański continues his foray into childhood announcing his intent to publish a lyrical memoir in early 2011.
Angel marked Górzański as a poet of childhood and boyish nostalgia. The tome opens with Baudelaire's motto and says much about the themes of verses that follow:
When I was young, I experienced two contradictory emotions: fear of life and delight of life.
Everything in this tome touches upon memory, which sojourns like the meanders and tributaries of a river. Images of a bitter and poor, and yet colourful, childhood in Warsaw's Praga district recall the times of Stalinism in a strangely boyish blend of truth and fiction. The result is a private and generational historic myth. Images of this myth have the concreteness and spareness of reality reminiscent of the poetry of Stanisław Grochowiak.The verses contain countless refractions of boyish books and films, like references to Jules Verne, Robinson Crusoe, and Division 303. The theme of adventure contrasts with the meagre material culture of communist Poland and Warsaw streets.
The strange syncretism of childish imagination imbues the poems with a special emotional charge. Joining the real and book worlds is childish, while the intermingling of the truth about secret police and fiction of social-realism evidences the infantilism of emotion experienced in those years. Górzański's poems are about all of those things.
It seems a new and excellent stage in Górzański's work began with Debut with an Angel. The turn toward childhood, as usually happens with poets, has resulted in a renewal of lyrical disposition, and cleansed the imagination of any foreign excess. Images of childhood are also catalysts for hitherto diverging forms, as Górzański has also authored grotesque and satirical prose, radio plays and columns. Now, these literary genres reinforce the lyricism, making it unusually agile, nimble and multifaceted. In this way, Górzański made Czesław Miłosz's famed wish for a "form more capacious" come true for his own use.
Górzański has produced verse and poetic prose that may be called romantic musical caprice. The verses are wonderfully anarchic and disciplined at the same time. They are remarkable not for permissiveness but precision in representing freewheeling imagination. The romanticism in the latest tome of poetry, To drugie światło / The Other Light (2006) has become one of the leading themes. Tellingly, one of the cycles is entitled Nastroje romantyczne / Romantic Moods.
Górzański has developed his own way of imbuing lyrical matter with vast literary references, which he inserts into the order of daily life, an order that is often private, rather than footnotes in the library of an erudite. With great ease, Górzański oscillates between the truth of his pure lyrical images and the comedy of appearances that threatens any image making. There is irony, scepticism, and mockery in this ambivalence, all of which have always been his tools.
The work from his latest period is a mix of story prose with poetry and diaries with memoires. It also signals a return to the sources of his imagination, spinning a life's tale and looping of youth with approaching old age. Górzański is heading toward a lyrical journal, and has even announced he will publish such a work, prepared over many years.
Major poetry works:
- Trial with Space / Próba z przestrzenią (1963),
- Contraband / Kontrabanda (1973),
- Young Years of Sleeplessness / Młode lata bezsenności (1977),
- Holy Dirt / Święty brud (1985),
- Lightning Controls Everything / Wszystkim steruje błyskawica (1993),
- Debut with an Angel / Debiut z aniołem (1997),
- Goodnight now Understands / Już rozumie dobranoc (2003),
- The Other Light / To drugie światło (2006).
Author: Piotr Matywiecki, December 2006