Anna Adamowicz

- Poland -

Anna Adamowicz (born in 1993 in Lubin, Poland) – a poet, a professional laboratory diagnostician. Her poems have been translated into English, Russian, Czech and Slovenian. She lives and works in Wrocław. She was nominated for the Main Prize of the 19th Jacek Bierezin Polish National Poetry Competition in 2013. She was nominated for the Gdynia 2017 Literary Award for her debut poetry volume Wątpia (2016). Her next book of poetry, Animalia, was published in 2019 by Biuro Literackie. She was nominated for the cultural award of “Gazeta Wyborcza” Warto 2020.

The very title of her debut book, Wątpia (“Innards”), signalled a very specific way of treating and describing the body. The body becomes the most interesting after it has been cut open (“skin loss is an interesting experience”). This is how a medical analyst graduate transforms professional principles into a strictly poetic message, an original programme of a “return to matter”. In this sense, we do not seem to be in any way unique in nature; the nervous tissue of a human works similarly to that of a fox (killed for fur) or of kittens in a sack (smashed against the pavement). Starting with physiology, we come to a sense of intercellular and interspecies unity. There is a performance of “looking for the human under the pain of the animal”, as Joanna Mueller puts it in the description on the cover of the volume.

How did the critics react to this debut? An interesting interpretation was proposed by Jolanta Nawrot: “It is an engaging study of the relationship between the human body and the human psyche, between the surface and the inside, between what is visible and what is hidden. For this reason, the most important keyword in the poetry of the young Wrocław poet is ‘skin’ – our largest organ that mediates between the body and the external environment. Skin ripping means the necessity of direct confrontation with the world, the elimination of the protective barrier, but also the risk of losing one’s own individuality”.

The author herself, in an interview with Michał Małysa, emphasized that “man is stretched between the meat of nature and the marble of culture like a condemned man on a torture bed. […] I am looking for threads that connect man in medical and anatomical terms with history, culture, and art. With all fields of humanities that at first glance are not associated with mathematical or natural sciences. However, these connections exist because no field of knowledge exists in isolation from others. This strict symbiosis, repeated many times, interests me, attracts me and excites me”.

In the second volume, entitled Animalia, an entity that peers inside the human body, gains not only a name, but also an expressive voice; of course, within the limits of anthropomorphizing confabulation. This is the case, for example, in the poem “recytatyw tasiemca wczepionego w jelito Marii Callas” (“recitative of the tapeworm attached to the intestine of Maria Callas”). In another text, several perspectives are combined, resulting in a specific timbre of this commitment. Communication between the bodies (a cry from viscera to viscera) is one thing, and a reference to the symbolic and cultural background is another. On the other hand, on these two planes there is a third, perhaps the most important, imploring, prayerful and at the same time alarming call about the impending destruction of the natural environment. As we eat the ubiquitous plastic, we are eaten by it. We find a moving testimony of this in a poem called “tworzywo” (“fabric”): “from the belly of a girl named Poland I am calling to you / albatross with lighters in your stomach / forgive me that I am not crispy krill”). This conversation between the poet and the albatross is not only an ecological scream of despair, but also a complicated lesson in poetic self-referentiality, emphasizing variously understood “species threats”. In confrontation with the text, we might begin to reflect that along with the annihilation of some layers of nature, their cultural counterparts die out, too.

Emphasizing the unique place of this work on the map of the most recent poetry, Monika Glosowitz wrote of a “revision of the approach to the human body and the transition from an anthropocentric perspective to an attempt to develop a non- or post-anthropocentric perspective”, as well as of the “well-thought-out and thematized gesture of establishing the position and structures of the common world afresh”. In a sense, some of Adamowicz’s texts would fit into an eco-poetic perspective, combining with the efforts of other young poets working on a new world order that would be in accordance with the postulate of interspecies empathy. Glosowitz puts it this way: “Poetry is to help to dismantle the world as we know it, illustrate the vivisection of social bodies, and also redefine the needs and relations between them. This social body is viewed in many dimensions: from the cosmic, to the level of the forest undergrowth”.

Biuro Literackie is preparing Nebula, a new volume by Anna Adamowicz to be published at the end of December 2020. The publisher’s website announces that it is to be a “futurological” volume: “Dreams of being a cursor or a text editor, voice notes, trips to other planets. Dreams of the end of the world, a prophecy of the destruction of the human species. Memes, the Little Prince and Russian robots are intertwined with questions about place and identity, with catastrophic visions of the future”.


Karol Maliszewski, December 2020; translated by Miłosz Wojtyna