2014 NTA Award Longlist, American Literary Translators Association

Agnieszka Kuciak’s Distant Lands: An Anthology of Poets Who Don’t Exist is a tour de force. This faux anthology of 21 invented poets, with their poems and biographical notes, belongs in the company of world literature’s distinguished fabulists—Jorge Luis Borges, Fernando Pessoa, Franz Kafka, and Italo Calvino—in blurring the boundary between the textual and actual worlds. It includes a certain “N. Miłosz,” who like his late namesake, the Nobel Laureate Czesław Miłosz, is considered “the bishop of poetry,” and the confessional poet “Sylvia,” reminiscent of Plath. The text comes alive when performed as readers’ theater. Performances of Distant Lands have taken place at the art gallery Nigdy-Nigdy in Warsaw, Poland and at many American universities. Karen Kovacik would be happy to work with your campus or community to stage a reading from Kuciak’s book.


Ania Spyra playing the poet Bionda in Warsaw’s Galeria Nigdy-Nigdy

Praise for Kovacik’s translation of Agnieszka Kuciak’s Distant Lands: An Anthology of Poets Who Don’t Exist (ISBN 978-1-935210-45-0):

“I have a shelf in my library I refer to as my sacred shelf, which contains only those books I love so much. I could reread them a hundred times and never tire of them. The shelf includes books by Rilke, Márquez, Borges, Pessoa, Michaux, Calvino, Miłosz, Kafka, and others. I am forever looking for the next poet or writer who will inspire me and surprise me, not once, but again and again. Agnieszka Kuciak’s Distant Lands is my latest discovery. Mystical, mischievous, and musical, Kuciak enchants me with the scope of her imagination, her whimsical flirtations with identity, theology, and the very nature of human existence. I am delighted by her lyrical flare, her wit, and her remarkable ability to be both one and many poets.”—Nin Andrews

“A fact is a thing done, and a fiction is a thing made. In Distant Lands, Agnieszka Kuciak makes up for all the making up by transforming these fabulous fabrications into sublime art. Like water into wine, a sly stealth of miracles.” —Michael Martone

Read The Rumpus review of Distant Lands here.

Read Marianne Boruch’s notes on Distant Lands on the Harriet blog of Poetry.

And here‘s a review on the Kenyon Review blog.

Order Distant Lands here.


Scattering the Dark offers a lively selection of Poland’s women poets writing before and after the fall of communism. In eight thematic chapters, this book reveals how the influential younger generations turn from their country’s tragic history to a poetry of ordinary experience and language play.

Praise for Scattering the Dark:

“Wow! What a book! American readers are well aware of the powerful tradition of Polish poetry that produced Miłosz and Herbert and Różewicz and Szymborska. Here is something else—the tradition of women’s writing that flows out of the work of Szymborska and Anna Swir and Julia Hartwig and Ewa Lipska. . . the way this mighty tradition turns in the hands of a younger generation from the traumatic history of their country to a poetics of everyday life, of play, experiment, the poetics of a postmodern condition. An absolutely rich and appealing book.”—Robert Hass

“Polish poetry is one of the great poetries of the world, and these cosmopolitan, multilingual poets speak to each other—and to us—across the decades, overcoming a great silence, redirecting the myths, reimagining the role of the poet and the nature of poetry itself. Scattering the Dark is a useful, subversive, even necessary anthology.”—Edward Hirsch

Scattering the Dark is a stock of the human condition so polyphonic that it’s hard to believe all the poems collected here were written in one single country and language. This is a passionate, mournful, erotic book of astonished lives.”—Valzhyna Mort

Read a review of Scattering the Dark in Words Without Borders here.

Read Julia Fiedorczuk’s World Literature Today essay about women’s poetry in Poland, which references Scattering the Dark, here

Order Scattering the Dark here.