Polish poet, author Zagajewski wins Spain’s prestigious award

  • IANS

    IANS | Oviedo (Spain)

    June 9, 2017 | 8:40 am
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Adam Zagajewski (Photo: Youtube/Cambridge Polish Studies)

Polish poet and author Adam Zagajewski has won Spain's prestigious Princess of Asturias Award for Literature, the prize's jury announced on Thursday.

Zagajewski, who was born in 1945 in what was then Lwów (currently Lviv, Ukraine), is one of the most pre-eminent contemporary Polish poets, novelists and essayists from the so-called Generation of '68, also known as the "New Wave", Efe news reported.

He was a prominent dissident during Poland's Communist era and was forced into exile in 1982, living for the next two decades in Germany, France and the US.

Some of his best-known works include the poetry collections "Tremor" (1985), "The Canvas" (1990), "Mysticism for Beginners" (1997), and "World Without End: New and Selected Poems" (2002).

Essays such as "Solidarity, Solitude" (1986), "Two Cities" (1991) and "A Defence of Ardor" (2002) highlight Zagajewski's ability to also craft masterful prose writings that dissect Poland's political complexities.

According to the jury, "his resolute stance in defence of freedom and the search for beauty is faithfully reflected in his work, a work of great human depth and fine aesthetic sensibility".

For Zagajewski, poetry also has to combine "irony and ecstasy", while the poet is someone who is "aware of history".

Following decades of dissidence and protest poetry that was critical with the totalitarianism of the Polish state, the fall of the Iron Curtain signaled a shift in his work towards poetic contemplation.

"Poetry is somewhere else, beyond immediate partisan struggles, and even beyond rebellion, including the most justified rebellion, against tyranny," Zagajewski then said.

He graduated in both Philosophy and Psychology at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, the city in southwestern Poland in which he currently resides.

In the 1970s, he joined the dissident group "Teraz" (Now) and created two of the most iconic slogans for the New Wave movement: "Powiedz prawde" (Tell the truth) and "Mow Wprost" (Speak up).

The Princess of Asturias Awards were launched in 1981. They were earlier known as the Prince of Asturias Awards and are named after the heir apparent to the Spanish throne, who back then was the current king, Felipe VI.

They are adjudicated every year by the Princess of Asturias Foundation, which changed its name in 2015 to reflect the official title of the current crown princess, Leonor de Borbón.

Each prize comes with a symbolic reproduction of a statue by Spanish artist Joan Miró, a diploma, an insignia and 50,000 euros ($55,940).

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