Marcin Orliński

- Poland -

Marcin Orliński (b. 1980) is a poet, prose writer, and literary critic. He has published six volumes of poetry: Mumu humu (Kraków 2006), Parada drezyn (“A parade of trolleys,” Łódź 2010), Drzazgi i śmiech (“Splinters and laughter,” Poznań 2010), Tętno (“Pulse,” Łódź 2014), Środki doraźne (“Ad Hoc Measures,” Poznań 2017), and Późne słońce (“Late Sun,” Lusowo 2023). He has also authored a collection of short prose works titled Zabiegi (“Measures,” Poznań 2014) and a book of literary criticism titled Płynne przejścia (“Fluid Passages,” Mikołów 2011). His texts have been featured in various magazines and newspapers, including PrzekrójPismoGazeta WyborczaRzeczpospolitaNewsweekTygodnik Powszechny and Twórczość. He currently serves as the deputy editor-in-chief of Przekrój quarterly. In 2016, he won the Adam Włodek Award. In 2018, his collection Środki doraźne earned him a nomination for the K.I. Gałczyński “Orpheus” Poetry Award. He lives in Warsaw.


Marcin Orliński is a poet, prose writer, and literary critic. He has published six volumes of poetry: Mumu humu (Kraków 2006), Parada drezyn (“A parade of trolleys,” Łódź 2010), Drzazgi i śmiech (“Splinters and laughter,” Poznań 2010), Tętno (“Pulse,” Łódź 2014), Środki doraźne (“Ad Hoc Measures,” Poznań 2017), and Późne słońce (“Late Sun,” Lusowo 2023). He has also authored a collection of short prose works titled Zabiegi (“Measures,” Poznań 2014) and a book of literary criticism titled Płynne przejścia (“Fluid Passages,” Mikołów 2011). His texts have been featured in various magazines and newspapers, including PrzekrójPismoGazeta WyborczaRzeczpospolitaNewsweekTygodnik Powszechny and Twórczość. He currently serves as the deputy editor-in-chief of Przekrój quarterly. In 2016, he won the Adam Włodek Award. In 2018, his collection Środki doraźne earned him a nomination for the K.I. Gałczyński “Orpheus” Poetry Award.

 

In Orliński’s poems, one hears the city as a space whose temporary or permanent protagonists live, experience, fall apart and reinvent themselves, with the scenery acting as their active companion, influencing the course of events rather than just testifying to them. If we call Orliński an urban poet – if such a category should exist at all – his city is an average one: neither too big nor too small, and malleable enough to accommodate the multiplicity of human lives. The poet fills his spaces with them, observing what happens to individual protagonists only to later jot down his remarks and pass them on. He is, however, a very discreet chronicler and companion.

 

In his six hitherto published poetry books (Orliński also writes prose and literary criticism and serves as the deputy editor-in-chief of Przekrój magazine, where his tasks include presenting poetry), the author undergoes a certain transformation in this respect. Since his debut Mumu humu (2006), his poetics has evolved most in terms of the lyrical subject’s attitude to the world. In subsequent volumes, the irony that we may remember from Środki doraźne (“Ad hoc measures”) gives way to understanding, as in the most recent poetry book, Późne słońce (“Late sun”), published after seven years of poetic silence. He ventures less and less into journalism. Formal experiments are replaced with greater formal rigour; unbridled imagination and its products – with everyday life. As if he picked an individual from a crowd or distilled a single sound from the hustle and bustle – this is how, methodically and carefully, he approaches the essence of experience. Leaving irony behind – this protective shield sensitivity is often armed with – is symptomatic here. Giving up this instrument is not an act of capitulation. On the contrary, it seems to indicate a mature confrontation with one’s own fears and courage to share what is most precious, despite the risk that revealing the essence of what makes us who we are could be undermined, ridiculed or even destroyed. With his recent books, Orliński seems to say: “so be it, I’m ready” or rather “I’m not ready, but I want to make this gesture regardless.” After all, there is something that may help in this process of exposing oneself, the ultimate shield: a sense of humour. This is an important element of Orliński’s poetry and his non-poetic (though not non-literary) activity, which has won the author additional popularity (mostly on social media).

 

So when I think of Marcin Orliński’s poetry, I see how, in subsequent volumes, he keeps developing his poetic language, consistently leading it along the path of eliminating successive layers of the author’s distance to the story he tells and its protagonists. Those distancing measures give way to a tamed form, an attention to rhythm, and create a space (a place in the midst of the stanza-filled city) where the poet’s observations made along the way can resound freely.Orliński’s poems are turning into intimate stories about great things. If the end of the world looms on the horizon, it is observed from the vantage point of a bench in front of a block of flats. If the poem refers to the dissolution of communities, it will come across in a quarrel among neighbours. A dog is barking somewhere in the background, an ambulance is passing through; the sounds of the city alternately drown out and highlight the emotions contained in these narratives. They are familiar, well-known, allowing us to more easily locate the links between the micro and the global, often inaccessible because of the latter scale.

 

With his poetry, Orliński treads a connection, a shortcut from the big to the small (and thus close). He does this by consistently developing his singular poetic language. As if the author had to walk it all out, keep blazing the trails until there are no more obstacles to understanding. Yes, Marcin Orliński’s poems are like poetic flânerie: they walk the city for me, experiencing it. This city, both mine and yours, can be anywhere where you look for a path to self-understanding.