Depending on a reader's knowledge of Polish poetry, the arrival of Nothing More may seem like a miracle. A new voice, full of maturity, nuance and daring seems to have arrived into the English language out of nowhere. Mi?ob?dzka, born 1932, is one of Poland's leading poets. Nothing More is her first full-length book in English.
The fact that these poems are translations intensifies this questioning of language, self and the world. The themes are being worked out in two different musics, Polish and English. Arc Publications' usual practice of dual translation allows another set of questions to be asked. Do the forms match, for example? After choosing an enjambed line over the prose form of the Polish in the second two poems in the collection, 'House' and 'Quite Constricted...', Wójcik-Leese maintains the formal look of the poems almost to the line in the remainder of the collection, but inserts spatial buffers and blanks from time to time. She acknowledges this in her preface as a risk that aims to convey the instability of the Polish. I do not read Polish, so cannot judge in relation to this claim, but as poems themselves the practice strikes me as successful, as unsettled movement and energy are both everywhere evident.
This is a collection that not only attempts to track or map feeling becoming thought becoming language but also the opposite direction language>thought>feeling. This is the deeper rhythmic back-and-forth pulse at play here, and is ably and honestly translated in this edition.