Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka

"The poems are the work of a profoundly serious temperament and a professional translator of world into word"– Michael Salcman, Judge, Harriss Poetry Prize

Book Reviews

Oh, she torques everything, this poet. Takes the slightest notion and applies the slant force of her refined perception until that concept’s twisted into the sudden, the astonishing. The new. (…)

A barrage of concision, lists of things presented without affectation, things piled on things piled on things until an impression is born of itself, almost immaculately (…)

Such a subversively remote voice. It’s not grounded against a particularly American backdrop. Nor any other. Prepare, then, to tour the killing fields and violent byways of a multinational landscape, the Polish streets and a chamber of death. Prepare to slide from the dark waters of Noah’s Ark to the rise of the Red River in North Dakota, prepare for a surge through the aorta that carries us to the Milky Way. (…)


In terms of artistic influences, Kosk–Kosicka is partial to painters such as Magritte, Chagall, and Gauguin (whose paintings ghost through these poems), and to writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez: she is equally at home writing as if she were the figure in a painting, the artist making the painting, or a viewer stepping into the painting.”… Review by Katherine E. Young

“In point of fact, Kosk–Kosicka, who translates poetry from Polish into English — including work by Wisława Szymborska and her own mother, Lidia Kosk — has a fine ear for nuance in English. In these poems she slips from voice to voice and persona to persona to explore family, history, memory, and loss. She has a sharp ear for homonyms and clearly loves to play with the sounds of English. She uses adjectives sparely — and the adjectives she chooses more often than not describe color — and her verbs are often striking, unexpected.”…”Scents, tastes, images of Kosk–Kosicka’s Polish childhood mingle with fried fish and boiled peanuts in the American beach tableau of “At the Seaside Café,” a poem in which the speaker speaks wistfully of the search for “fragments of the familiar.” Not that resolution is either desired or, indeed, attainable: some of the richest poems in Oblige the Light mine the territory of culture, what it means to inhabit the international landscape of art and ideas, irrespective of physical location.”…Reviewed by Katherine E. Young for The Potomac

“Here again are poems about war, including one that connects that older violence to todays’ mass shootings. But here also are ekphrastic poems, poems about family, and humorous, ironic poems about living in Communist Poland. In “May Day,” the speaker and her friend sneak away, bored by a long practice session of waving red flags. While their dutiful classmates shout “Long Live Proletarian Internationalism,” the two runaways stuff themselves with sugar-glazed donuts (21-22) until they are sick.”…Reviewed by Patricia Valdata



“How interesting that both new books by Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka have a reference to light in the title, when dark periods in history echo through many of these poems… In these two volumes, Kosk-Kosicka offers glimpses of despair and redemption, war and peace, inhumanity and family connection, through the skilled use of imagery, sharp observations, and sometimes wry humor. In doing so, she has created two books that shed a beautiful light.”… Review by Patricia Valdata

She created translations not only of her mother, Lidia Kosk, but also of another Polish Nobel laureate, Wislawa Szymborska (1996), into English while translating three acclaimed Maryland poets, Josephine Jacobsen, Lucille Clifton, and Linda Pastan, into Polish.


Kosk-Kosicka, who also read from her prize-winning book this March at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, has written in her first book, Face Half-Illuminated (described by Sue Ellen Thompson, winner of the 2010 Maryland Author Award, as a “must read for anyone who either knows or wants to understand what it means to live in two worlds”), that the one great advantage of translating the Maryland poets was that they were available for consultation.

Lost (and Found) in Translation



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This entry was posted on July 9, 2016 by .


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