Monday, November 21, 2011

Anna Kamieńska

Anna Kamieńska (1920–1986), like Czeslaw Milosz, lived through the Nazi occupation of Poland, and the difficult years under communism. Her poetry doesn’t describe the inhumanity of those times, but concentrates on essential, lasting things. Her husband — the poet Jan Śpiewak — died prematurely of cancer in 1967, and left Kamieńska in search of answers. In 1970 she wrote in her notebook, “I was looking for the dead, and I found God.”

During the 1970s the Polish government tried to silence her, and suppress her work, because they saw her as part of the democratic movement. Even so, she has written twenty books of poetry, and many biblical commentaries. In 2007 Paraclete Press released a collection of her poems, translated into English by Grażyna Drabik and David Curson, called Astonishments. This book demonstrates her hard-earned faith, nurtured through honest questioning and doubt, as exemplified in the following poems.

A Prayer

Out of a spark and out of dust make me again
again plant trees in my paradise
once more give me the sky over my head

So I could deny You with my reason
call you forth with all my tears
find You like love with my lips

Lack Of Faith

even when I don’t believe
there is a place in me
inaccessible to unbelief
a patch of wild grace
a stubborn preserve
pain untouched sleeping in the body
music that builds its nest in silence

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: