Poetry Travels with Anna Blasiak and Lisa Kalloo: THE SIEGE by Marcin Świetlicki, translated by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese

We will not leave this cafe!
As a sign of fidelity we put our lips
against the multiple imprints
of lipstick on the cups.

If our fatherland has not come here with us
– we have to call this place a fatherland,
and what's besieging us from outside is
also our fatherland, only now it wants us.

By Marcin Świetlicki

Translated by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese


From NIGHT TRUCK DRIVER
by Marcin Świetlicki
Translated from the Polish by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese
Published by Zephyr Press (2020)

Finalist of the 2020 Big Other Book Award for Translation, longlisted for the 2021 PEN America Poetry in Translation Award.


Born in Lublin in 1961, Marcin Świetlicki is a poet, crime writer and musician who has published thirteen poetry collections, and writes most of the lyrics for two bands he regularly performs with. He co-edited (with Marcin Baran and Marcin Sendecki) the poetry anthology Długie pożegnanie. Tribute to Raymond Chandler (The Long Goodbye. Tribute to Raymond Chandler). He has received several major awards, including the 1996 Kościelski Foundation Prize, the Silesius Wroclaw Poetic Award (2012) and the Lublin Poetical Stone Award (2014), for lifetime achievement.


Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese writes with/in English, Polish and Danish. Her translation of Nothing More, by Krystyna Miłobędzka, was shortlisted for the 2015 Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize. She translated Salt Monody, poems by Marzanna Kielar, and co-edited the anthology of contemporary Polish poetry, Carnivorous Boy Carnivorous Bird: Poetry from Poland, both published by Zephyr Press. She co-curates “Transreading” courses on transnational and hybrid poetries for the Poetry School in London. She lives in Copenhagen.


Photo by Lisa Kalloo


Check out the Poetry Travels book list on bookshop.org.


Read previous poems from Poetry Travels:

FISH by Jana Putrle Srdić, translated by Barbara Jurša

THE WELL by Maarja Pärtna, translated by Jayde Will

THE SHADOW by Pentti Saarikoski, translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah

A FAREWELL TO MY DEAD CLASS by Irit Amiel, translated by Anna Blasiak and Marta Dziurosz

THE GIRLS IN BERGEN-BELSEN by Nora Gomringer, translated by Annie Rutherford

DECEMBER, by Jaume Subirana, translated by Christopher Whyte

ROSE RED, by Ulrike Almut Sandig, translated by Karen Leeder

*** (I D[R]IPPED MY PEN…) by Mario Martín Gijón, translated by Terence Dooley

WHAT COMES by Magda Cârneci, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Mădălina Bănucu

TRANSLATION by Justyna Bargielska, translated by Maria Jastrzębska

*** (MY EYES, DENSE NIGHT…) by Gëzim Hajdari, translated by Ian Seed

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