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Nobel literature prize winning poet Szymborska dies

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 01.02.2012 21:26
Poet and 1996 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Wislawa Szymborska has died, aged 88.

photo - Jacek Bednarczyk

An assistant to the poet, Michał Rusinek. told the PAP news agency that Szymborska “died peacefully in her sleep”.

Szymborska was also a literary critic, columnist and translator. She published over 20 books, among them several volumes of poetry.

Critics have said that Szymborska's work was always characterized by precision and economy of expression, colloquial language and the use of irony and paradox.

When the Nobel Prize committee awarded Wislawa Szymborska their prize for literature in 1996, they also noted her “ironic” poetry, mostly written in her home city of Krakow.

Even her opening sentence in her acceptance speech for the award showed that this was a women with a rare gift for humour, as well as profound verse.

“They say the first sentence in any speech is always the hardest. Well, that one's behind me, anyway,” she said.

Szymborska's output as a poet was modest – she published around 250 poems in her lifetime.

Her work, however, has been used as text for music by composer Zbigniew Preisner and lauded by writer Czeslaw Milosz.

She began her work as an artist during WW II Nazi occupied Poland when she illustrated an English language textbook.

After the war she studied Polish language at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, but had to quit her studies due to financial difficulties.

Though loyal at the time to the communist regime in Poland after the war, her first book in 1949 was banned the authorities.

During the 1960s, Szymorska, like many intellectuals of the period, grew disillusioned with communism and she formed alliances with the oppositionist Paris-based Polish magazine Kultura.

During the 1980s Solidarity protests she published in underground periodicals under the pseudonym 'Stańczykówna'.

Her last work of poetry was Tutaj (Here) published in 2009. (pg)

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