Dear Ms. Schubert
Dear Ms. Schubert, I’m writing you in
Polish. A strange tongue. It sticks to the palate.
It has to be translated, constantly,
into foreign languages. Sometimes it gives off
a dull smell and tastes like apathetic mustard.
Sometimes though, it relaxes in love.
Do you remember how dizzy our words were
when we ran along the beach, and rain
washed our mouths of the remnants of speech?
Dear Ms. Schubert, sometimes I feel like
a house put up for sale. Inside me are six
bedrooms, two kitchens, three bathrooms and one
hunched-over attic. Theoretically, I have two exits,
though the one to the backyard’s always kept closed.
I stand in all the windows and look out at the tree,
which, like a fragment of unwritten prose,
rustles, to outtalk fear.
The Large Hadron Collider
Dear Ms. Schubert, because I believe in an afterlife, we’re bound to meet in the Large Hadron Collider. You’ll probably be a fraction of the number I’ll add to myself. The sum won’t require any explanation. It’s more or less what love equals. Minus disaster.
“Dear Ms. Schubert is an admirable addition to international literature, a gift to the English-speaking world.”
—L. Ali Khan, New York Journal of Books
January 5, 2021
“Written by a Mr. Butterfly, these brief, playful poems show the intimacies of love while maintaining deep cultural skepticism.”
—New York Times
“Readers lucky enough to find themselves immersed in the poems [in Dear Ms. Schubert] will discover a lovely garden of delights…The poems, in a confident translation by Robin Davidson and Ewa Elżbieta Nowakowska, are pleasant to read…clever and startling.”
—Kyle Torke, Colorado Review
May 10, 2021
“This poetry jumps and leaps and runs.”
“Ewa Lipska is a poet of the first importance. Her signature style—terse, witty, with images that turn on a dime—is unmistakable. The translations in Dear Ms. Schubert succeed in conveying her controlled, understated tone, her playfulness, and her ability to astonish with a single unexpected image or word.”
“Ewa Lipska doesn’t just use words in these terse and ironic poems—she also listens to how politicians, marketing executives, and so-called ordinary folk use them to express their fears and desires. This makes her both uncompromising and generous. Born ‘in a downpour of uncertainty,’ these magnificently translated poems engage with the present moment without losing sight of the timelessness of human kindness and love.”
—Piotr Florczyk, author of East West and
From the Annals of Kraków
Larger themes emerge for the reader who cares to gather clues, namely a chronotopic panorama of German-speaking culture, and of the multilingual and multiethnic ties of central Europeans to the German world. The panorama stretches over two centuries, examining culture from leisurely nineteenth-century philosophical pursuits to brutal twentieth-century mass murder and totalitarianism. . . The fascinating puzzle Lipska has put in front of us continues with the blurring of the boundary between prose and poetry. . . This is a revolutionary act, a democratization that anchors poetry in spoken and written nonliterary texts and gives it the rhythm of breathing. . .
—Alice-Catherine Carls, World Literature Today
May 26, 2021