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

Tupelo Quarterly

“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.” …Review by Bruce Sager

THE POTOMAC /a journal of poetry and politics

“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.”… “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

Loch Raven Review

“The reader of this fine book of poetry should at first read the autobiographical essay “Turning To Poetry” and then go to the back of the book and read a “Note On Translating” on page 45. The two essays place the poetry in context.”…”A talented poet—-in two languages yet—- captures both the images of the eye and those created transfigurations of the heart. Hollywood is one of the sparkling surfaces of reality; the poems in this book are the river itself, surface, depth, flow.”…”The deceiving simplicity of the words of the book’s first poem “Face Half-Illuminated, Half in Shadow” announces that the book is a bridge between worlds, lives, people, time. There is also another voice present in this book—-Lidia Kosk. Her poems are brought to life in English by her daughter. Since the two are mother and daughter the symbiotic relationship of poet and translator is deep, pervasive.”…Review by Dan Cuddy


“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.”…“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

Review by Albert Kapikian


THE POTOMAC /a journal of poetry and politics

Face Half–Illuminated is a book that attempts to reconcile dichotomies: present and past, war and peace, English and Polish, daughter and mother; the pleasures of the art of poetry with the pain of violence, suffering, and loss. At times the poet is in suspense between these dichotomies, as in the opening poem, “Face Half–Illuminated, Half in Shadow,” a poem which Danuta actually wrote in the air while on a return flight over the Atlantic Ocean—literally suspended between her native Poland and the U.S.—her adopted country. In one sense, the poem is a return to the present and the future from out of the past:

….In Warsaw
concealed by heaven
my parents sleep
at twelve am. On I–95 in Maryland
at 6 pm my husband and son are nearing
the place where I will touch the earth (7)…Review by Michael Fallon

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