Phone‑Ordered Trauma. On Several Attempts to Speak with the Dead in Contemporary Polish Poetry Cover Image

Trauma na telefon. O kilku próbach rozmowy ze zmarłymi w polskiej poezji współczesnej
Phone‑Ordered Trauma. On Several Attempts to Speak with the Dead in Contemporary Polish Poetry

Author(s): Kamila Czaja
Subject(s): Studies of Literature, Polish Literature, Theory of Literature
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Keywords: polish poetry; death; telephone; Jerzy Ficowski; Wisława Szymborska

Summary/Abstract: Fr Jan Twardowski advises: “Let us hurry to love people” before they leave behind “only their shoes and silence on the phone.” The poets use the motif of overdue phone calls to people who are no longer with us, but – in spite of the diagnosis from another of Twardowski’s work, Potem, that the dead do not call us – the trauma of the death comes back also in the form of the telephone calls from the dead person (e.g. Słuchawka by Wisława Szymborska). These (nomen omen) signals of trauma – trauma connected with Holocaust, war, individual loss – seem to be the expression of helplessness of the people who survived, but also the attempt to rescue the memory of the dead (Spis abonentów sieci telefonów miasta stołecznego Warszawy na rok 1938/39 by Jerzy Ficowski, Notes by Antoni Słonimski). The vision of telephonic understanding with the dead can help to work through the trauma, allow to have the conversation impossible ever before (Telefon by Zbigniew Herbert), and support people in comprehending their own mortality (Telefon by Mieczysław Jastrun). What seems the most interesting are the functions this “contacts” perform and the metaphors characteristic for the mentioned poems (or similar, like Telefon by Władysław Szlengel). In the centre of this article is the contemporary Polish poetry, however as a context foreign (Telephone Call by Donell Dempsey) and prosaic (Szum by Magdalena Tulli, Duchy w maszynach by Anna Kańtoch, Maigret en Vichy by Georges Simenon) works are also used.

  • Issue Year: 1/2020
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 163-182
  • Page Count: 20
  • Language: Polish