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The Sound of Modern Polish Poetry


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About the Author

Aleksandra Kremer is Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University and the author of Przypadki poezji konkretnej. Studia pieciu ksiazek (The twists and turns of concrete poetry: Case studies of five books).


Kremer shows...public poetry readings, especially in times of upheaval, were lofty, almost religious events...It is precisely through those authorial renditions, however, that we can glimpse the intricate relationships between the poet, the poem and the audience. Kremer investigates this rarely researched area using the recordings of several prominent Polish poets born in the first decades of the twentieth century. Her method is an odd but effective combination of machine-assisted, quantitative analysis of the poets' pitch, stress and intonation with impressionistic digressions about their art, life and sociopolitical involvements...Kremer captures the moment when poetry ceases to be fixed on a page and enters time, with all its ephemerality and contingency. -- Jaroslaw Anders * Times Literary Supplement *
Brilliant...The Sound of Modern Polish Poetry is an impressive work of scholarship...Given the dearth of scholarship on Polish literature in English, this is a wonderful addition to knowledge, and one that will delight any reader interested in Polish poetry, culture and history. -- E. M. Stanczyk * Slavonic and East European Review *
An impeccably researched, well-argued, and original work of scholarship. It is also an erudite and highly readable history of twentieth-century Polish literature and the individuals who shaped it...The book's unique approach will doubtless appeal to many readers and open new avenues of research on the intersection between literature, performance, and technology. -- Lukasz Wodzynski * Russian Review *
An exemplary study of poets' sound recordings, public and private, in postwar Poland. Aleksandra Kremer reads poetic performance styles through history, aesthetics, national culture, ideology, and translation, often using machine-assisted prosodic analysis. Her close listenings reveal the many ways in which poets' voicings exceed their texts. -- Charles Bernstein, author of Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word
Erudite, lively, and brilliant, this book examines Polish culture through an original point of entry: poetry performance. Exploring the audio practices of canonical modern poets within the context of history, Kremer achieves a true breakthrough in literary and performance studies. -- Irena Grudzinska-Gross, author of Czeslaw Milosz and Joseph Brodsky: Fellowship of Poets
Listening closely to an audio archive of postwar Polish poets including Milosz, Herbert, Rozewicz, and Szymborska, Aleksandra Kremer shows how each one navigated the cultural and political pressure to embody the Polish people and country. These writers strove to recapture the singularity of everyday speech, wresting their voices from the state and the dramatic stage actors who often performed poetry. The paradox at the center of this rich account is how the strategic downsizing enabled by tape recording ultimately expanded Polish poets' range of address. -- Lytle Shaw, author of Narrowcast: Poetry and Audio Research
Aleksandra Kremer makes a compelling case for modern Polish culture as a 'laboratory of poetry performance' in this original, masterfully researched study. It is a must-read not just for specialists, but for anyone interested in postwar Polish writing or indeed, in new ways of combining the humanities with technology while doing full justice to both. -- Clare Cavanagh, author of Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and the West

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