Mariusz Więcek

- Poland -

Mariusz Więcek (born 1983) - dramatist, poet, stand-up comedian. Has published, amongst others, in Lampa, Gazeta Wyborcza, Twórczość and Odra. Prize-winner of the City of Gdańsk Award for Young Artists (2006), winner of the All-Poland ‘Golden Medium’ Poetry Competition Kutno 2006 for the best poetry debut of 2005, winner of the International Drama Contest ‘Talking about Borders’ 2016 (for the play Life is loading at the Nürnberger Staatstheater 2017-2019). He has released the volumes of poetry Dar języków i inne przejęzyczenia (University of Gdańsk Press 2005) and Equilibrium (Topos Library 2009). He has written twenty plays, of which three have been presented in the Theatre on the Beach in Sopot, (Nie strzelajcie do pianistki, Dwie noce miłości, Śmierć i dziewczyna) and one in the Music Theatre in Gdynia (Ała rzeczywistość). He lives in Gdańsk.

Essay by Marta Podgórnik (translated from Polish by Magda Moran, Sean Moran)

In literary Silesia we are wont to say jokingly that all that’s bad comes from the Coast. This little spiteful remark is not, of course, to do with metaphysical evil but the legendary neoclassicism, so present in the critical and literary squabbles of the past decades, and so associated (perhaps by chance but also due to mutual affiliation) with the writers who come from and live in that region.

So when, thanks to the accompanying critique, we have such terms, or labels (such as barbarians, classicists, banalists, neo-linguists, the 1990s, or menstrual poetry, cyber-poetry, eco-poetry, the poetry of liberated imagination, the Silesian school of poetry of life and so on, and so forth − those who follow these disputes over the divisions and labelling which break out every now and then on the pages of magazines will know what I mean), which so hilariously simplify the represented world of, say post-Brulion or more widely, post-new-wave,  literature, then we should take this craze for classification without clear definition (NB!) at face value, and assume that, yes, it is true, the Coastal school of neo-classicist poetry does exist, from Wojciech Wencel to Tadeusz Dąbrowski (the very fact that those two diametrically different dictions are lumped together is proof enough of the actual critical and literary worth(lessness) of these kinds of labels) and we should consider to what extent, if at all, the poems of Mariusz Więcek might fit into this phantom paradigm.

What then should testify to this neo-classicist (or any other) provenance of his poems? The choice of literary tools? But the author, as you have the chance to discover whilst reading, open-handedly (though not by the handful) delves into both high and low culture, with literary references existing parallel to references to pop-culture, with the gravity being broken by his sense of humour and with even the, say, peri-funereal poems mingling with subtle erotica, where reflection on the world and the cycle of life and death is counterbalanced by notes and observations from the very tangible here and now. Maybe elegiac eroticism then? Confessional postmodernism? Broken-up classicism (i.e. the extended version, the unorthodox, the one of the highest order)? And maybe we are already dealing with a kind of postmodernist diction which brings all of those trends together? The author’s unquestionable literary mastery allows one to accept and at the same time to reject all of these hypotheses. For these poems cannot be classified in any way whatsoever, at the same time creating a very distinct, unique and brilliantly constructed microcosm, and what could be a better testimony to poetry?

And so, after a short and non-agitated critical and literary discussion with myself, with the kind, though slightly permissive, participation of the poems in question, I have coined yet another term for the purposes of this laudation. We are, readers, dealing with non-intrusive poetry, which functions perfectly well, against all the various -isms mentioned in the introduction, for the benefit of joy and reflection, and which, with its unpretentious non-intrusiveness, seems to be terribly necessary today.