An Invisible Rope.

Author:Scollon, Teresa
Position:Book review

Cynthia Haven (editor); AN INVISIBLE ROPE; Swallow Press (Nonfiction: Literary Collections, Nonfiction: Literary Collections) $26.95 ISBN: 9780804011334

Byline: Teresa Scollon

"We inhabit a world where history doesn't matter," writes scholar Cynthia Haven in the introduction to this collection of biographical essays. "As a result, we lose the ability to think and learn from the past we only fetishize culture -- extol it without understanding it, memorialize it without being able to profit from it."

Both Haven's book and its subject, Nobel Laureate CzesAaw MiAosz, take a stand against such insidious tendencies. A survivor of the Warsaw uprising, diplomat and then defector from Communist Poland, exile in Berkeley, California, for forty years, and finally internationally recognized poet, MiAosz used his life and work to illuminate history and the human condition. He became a poet in Poland, in the former Soviet bloc, "where poetry was often the national substitute for public discourse and where it performed a historic function as well as an aesthetic one." This dual poetic vocation animated his purpose but made him somewhat indigestible to the average American.

The thirty-two essays in The Invisible Rope help to remedy this by providing biographical context for MiAosz's work through the perspectives of a varied group of poets, friends, scholars, and students. In particular, this collection limns the poet's difficult years between defecting and winning the Nobel. Shunned by Polish...

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