Hope and Paradox in Wislawa Szymborska: Political and Poetic Contradictions

By:
Dr. Kathryn Elaine Woodruff
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Wislawa Szymborska, only the third female poet to be recognized with a Nobel Prize, often produced poems on pedestrian topics. Drawing on daily life, her poetic forms reflect a Polish reality that alienated her into a silent venue which allowed the poet to explore life in ways that vividly affected her writing. She created poems amid a sense of rootlessness buried in the political landscape. But paradox, humor — even hope — in a field of darkness, informed Szymborska's work in spite of overwhelming loss in Poland.

Epiphanies of this hope endue the pages from some of her strongest work. Blending difficulty with delight, the poet communicates both desire for humor and depth of concern in her poems. Her attitude assisted her in finding light in what topics were available for her to celebrate. And the simplicity, yet the complexity, with which she writes is a precursor for the meditation and craft that meld this artist's sincere and clever expression.

The political and poetic contradictions in her work scope a broad audience for Wislawa Szymborska in her determination to face the isolation she endures in pre-war day, WWII, and post-war days. Integrating her own experience with vicarious knowledge of the painful landcape, Szymborska forges a message of strength and endurance.


Keywords: Wislawa Szymborska, Poetry, Poland, Nobel Prize
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Kathryn Elaine Woodruff

Colorado Christian University
USA

Professor of English, Elaine Woodruff earned her Ph.D. in English at the University of Denver where she was also in the Writing Program under the direction of Bin Ramke. She has written a book of poems, Before the Burning, and has another manuscript prepared for publishing. Nominated for Poet Laureate of Colorado, she has given readings in American cities and universities, and at the Shakespeare Book Store in Paris. Woodruff has received a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities in the United States to participate in a University Teacher's Institute in Southwestern Studies. Recently, she presented a paper on Katherine Anne Porter at the Interdisciplinary Approaches to Short Fiction Theory and Criticism Conference at University of Salamanca in Spain, and participated in the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. Dr Woodruff currently teaches Literature and Creative Writing at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado.

Ref: H05P0248