Singing in Polish
by Joanna Kurowska
(translated from the Polish by Joanna Kurowska)  

The morning shower
(this word is important
like the fragrance of the soap
that dresses me
in a foreign skin
the same fragrance
that used to be only
a postcard from abroad)
I hummed a song
that was like a figure
cut from a holy picture
without the halo
The morning
washes away the remnants of illusions
I am but an abysmal stomach
crying to be fed.

by Joanna Kurowska
(translated from the Polish by Joanna Kurowska)  

I could not find a way
to convince the conductor
that I had the ticket
using my finger I tried
to point to my heart and my mouth

he towered over me
a scarecrow
one I was scared of
in my childhood

he finally said:
you may go

the train is rolling and rolling
I hear the wheels rattle
you may you may not

by Joanna Kurowska
(translated from the Polish by Joanna Kurowska)  

it appears in a train
between Fullerton and Belmont

makes hunger constrict
the arteries of my body-nest

it crawls stubbornly, full of faith
that I am a dark forest

a fiery-red longing, it eats
into my thoughts’ corridors

by Joanna Kurowska

In the train
a spill on the window
something colorless
and (I imagine)
Seven-up? Sprite?
What a pig
(I’m thinking)
to leave a mess like this
Then the spill-drops
turn out to be lenses
that skew the backside
of a better section
of Broadway street.
The places where people
put their stuff:
kitchen windows
grow narrow, expand
In the mirror
of soda lenses
everything is




Joanna Kurowska is a bilingual poet-emigrant presently living in
Evanston, Illinois, and writing in English.  A number of her poems have
appeared or are forthcoming in American journals such as
The New York Quarterly, American Tanka, International Poetry
, Oklahoma Review, and others.  Forthcoming is Inclusions,
her first collection of original English-language poems.  Kurowska is
the author of two books of poetry which appeared in Poland,
[The Wall] and Obok [Near].  Her work in Polish has been published
in literary journals, including
Kultura (Paris) and Fraza, and discussed
in several book and journal publications in Poland, including
[Different Literature]—a major work on the literature of
independent Poland from 1989-2009, published by the University of
Rzeszów Press in 2010.  Kurowska has taught language and literature
at American universities including the University of Chicago, Indiana
University, and Loyola University (Chicago).

On “Singing in Polish,” “In a Train,” “The Ant,” and “A Soda View”:
I wrote some poetry in Poland but most of my poems were created
here, in the U.S.  Ever since I emigrated in 1988, language has been
a big issue.  Back in the 1990s I wrote and published poetry in
Polish.  Eventually, I switched to English.  People have asked me,
am I an American poet or a Polish poet writing in English?  Maybe
being a poet is supranational.  It’s like being in a journey; in fact,
my poetic “I” often sits in a train.  Sometimes balancing between
language and experience is difficult, as I have tried to show in the
poem “Singing in Polish,” in the description of a person who hums
a Polish song while taking a
shower (the English word “shower”
appears in the Polish original).  Then again, if someone told me
twenty years ago that, one day, I would write poetry in English, I
wouldn’t believe it!  I guess I look at things through both Polish
and American lenses.  If the view is somewhat skewed—that makes
life more interesting!

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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 6, Number 2
(Fall 2011)

Copyright © 2011
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

All future rights to material
published in the
Valley Review
are retained
by the individual authors
and artists.
In a Train
The Ant
A Soda View