Café by Wren’s St James-in-the-Fields, Lunchtime / Kawiarnia przy St James Wrena w porze lunchu

by ANNA BLASIAK (poetry) and LISA KALLOO (photography)

This book has collaboration and translation at its heart: between people, words and images, languages, cultures. The poems came first, in Polish. Then came the photographic response to them. Then four translators, MARTA DZIUROSZ, MARIA JASTRZĘBSKA, DANUSIA STOK and ELŻBIETA WÓJCIK-LEESE, took a set of 12 or 13 poems each and translated them into English. All people involved were women: the poet, the photographer, the four translators and the two editors. Together they arrived at 51 Polish poems, 51 English poems and 51 photographs making this collection. They raise themes such as cultural identity and migration, queerness, racism, isolation and family memories.

CAFÉ/KAWIARNIA has been co-published by Holland House Books in the UK and K.I.T. Stowarzyszenie Żywych Poetów in Poland. It’s available in numerous online bookstores, both in the UK and Poland.

Anna’s poems make me think of the verse of the Swiss French poet Phillippe Jaccottet. She seems to be interested in analogies of life events, mysteries that are invisible at first instance, slips of tongue, contrasts, things held back, hidden moods and emotions. Just like Anna‘s poems, Lisa‘s photos capture and arrest details, writings, colours, lights and shadows, as well as textures of the world, they are snapshots, images captured as if by chance on a journey. 

WIOLETTA GREG, poet and writer

I knew that Lisa Kalloo (photography) and Anna Blasiak (poetry) were good but not this good! I’ve just been reading their new book, from cover to cover and back again. It is astonishingly beautiful, the poetry is exquisite, quietly observed, perfect and hits you in the heart; the photos are magical and inspired, riotously gorgeous and moving interpretations of daily life. And ofcourse – only the best translators!

ROSIE GOLDSMITH, Director of the European Literature Network

I love the restrained poetic voice, vivid images, the stillness and delicate quietness in Anna Blasiak’s poetry. I love the photos by Lisa Kalloo in the book too; very poetic choice, great sensibility.


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