Radosław Jurczak

- Poland -

Radosław Jurczak – born in 1995, a poet. Winner of the 21st Jacek Bierezin National Poetry Competition. He debuted with the volume 'Pamięć zewnętrzna' (2016), for which he received the Silesius Wrocław Poetry Award. He is currently working on the poem 'Zakłady holenderskie'. He also translates philosophical texts. He studies philosophy and mathematics at the University of Warsaw. He works as a machine learning engineer.

Radosław Jurczak (b. 1995) – a poet and a student of philosophy, cognitive science and mathematics at the University of Warsaw. He lives at Łomianki. He was noticed in the Połów competition organised by Biuro Literackie in 2015. In the same year, he was awarded the Main Prize of the 21st Jacek Bierezin National Poetry Competition. The awarded book of poetry was published in 2016 under the title Pamięć zewnętrzna (External Memory), winning the Kazimiera Iłłakowiczówna Award for the best poetry debut of the year. The critics’ recognition was confirmed when the book received the 2017 Silesius Wrocław Poetry Award in the category of debut of the year. The book, containing 33 poems, was appreciated inter alia for its novel attitude to the contemporary, 21st century Polish poem, growing from a strong tradition of the genre. The paper version of the book was published by Dom Literatury w Łodzi together with Tłocznia Wydawnicza “Ach Jo”. Collecting the award (during the Silesius gala), the young poet said: A poem is not a miracle, it is a result of work, and collective work to boot. A single published poem consists of several hundred trials and a countless number of texts read. And this self-description very well characterizes the poetics created by the young poet – which are based on an exceptionally strong density of allusions, references, and borrowings relating to various messages and texts surrounding the subject, and originating from both high and low culture.

According to Robert Rybicki, this “thickness” becomes increasingly complicated due to the overlapping of two worlds – the real one and the virtual one – in these texts. It seems that the driving force of this collection (…) is the overlapping of realities: both in the linguistic layer and in the layer of the represented world, an interference of the virtual with the real (…) Jurczak swims like a diver among simulacra, in an ocean of simulacra – it is no longer sucking in to the poem like to a vacuum cleaner, it is entering the land of the poem as a VR video game, hence (probably) the interactivity that was referred to. (…) Traditional methods used in literary criticism become obsolete, it becomes necessary to create an entirely different criticism, which will encompass the virtual world, since the one we have (…) does not go in line with the experience of younger poets. It is already a new generation – no longer of samples, but of loops; it simply is a different equipment, which broadens perception and accelerates poetry. These are no longer drugs, these are new technologies (…) – poetry can be generated in computer labs with the help of an artificial IQ.

Writing about Jurczak’s debut, Marta Koronkiewicz considered it a breakthrough important for his generation, comparing it to the earlier role of the expressive debuts of Tomasz Pułka and Tomasz Bąk. She, too, notices the poet’s exceptionally original references to Czesław Miłosz’s works. Jurczak is possibly the best known young poet making conscious references to Miłosz – a writer traditionally strongly unpopular among the youngest poets – but here, the props, scenes and images drawn from the author of From the Rising of the Sun seem to be consciously distorted, crumpled, glitched. What becomes the basic figure describing the reality is an error or a bug, a disturbance or a sliding apart.

Krzysztof Sztafa calls the above the processing of the existing dictions, indicating not only Miłosz, Pułka and Bąk, but also such poets inspiring Jurczak as Maciej Taranek and Kamil Brewiński. Interviewing the poet, Dawid Kujawa also mentions Andrzej Sosnowski and Miłosz Biedrzycki, and asks about Jurczak’s puzzling fascination with Miłosz’s poetry. The author of External Memory stresses the power of the Nobel prize laureate’s early works, in which along with catastrophism, he notices a socially-involved piss-off interestingly combined with the formal postulates of the avant-garde. What has Miłosz given me? (…) What has recently been of key importance in Polish poems – for me as well – is the question of the ethical and political involvement in poetry, an active contestation of the existing world, especially from the leftist positions: we can find all this in Miłosz’s poetry (…). A lot – and justly – is said about poetry as a way of giving the voice back to the weaker, the suffering Others: after all, this is the very core of Miłosz’s poems.

Paweł Kaczmarski, a leading critic of the young generation, devoted exceptionally much attention to Jurczak’s book, stating that we are dealing with one of the best poetic debuts in recent years, and that the author managed to reconcile, harmoniously and ingeniously, discrepancies between the lyrical and the involved, and between the referential, and autotelic, entanglement in social problems, with reflection on grammar, syntax and everyday linguistic habits. And if we were to believe these promoters of ecocriticism for whom ecopoetry is not simply poems about rocks and trees, but poetry dealing with the human attitude to our environment – about how we exist owing to and in the external – we could possibly say that Jurczak’s debut is one of the strongest ecopoetic gestures of the decade. Almost every poem from External Memorytouches to some extent the question of the borders of subjectivity and individuality of how and when we consider the thingsoutside a part of ourselves.

Written by: Karol Maliszewski

Translated by: Anna Moroz-Darska