A Celebration of Czesław Miłosz with Adam Zagajewski


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Last March, the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center, in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute, presented a centennial celebration of Czesław Miłosz, with readings and remembrances by Clare Cavanagh, Robert Hass and Adam Zagajewski.

In honor of Miłosz’s centennial, (his actual birthday was June 30, 1911. Google celebrated with a Google Doodle!), we share an excerpt from that tribute, which opened with a recording of Miłosz reading from his poem “Report” (from a 1993 appearance at the Poetry Center) and ended with Zagajewski’s readings of “Yellow Bicycle” and “Mittelbergheim.”

“What distinguishes Miłosz as a poet,” wrote fellow Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, in a recent commemoration published in The Guardian, “is the abundance and spontaneity of the work, his at-homeness in so many different genres and landscapes, his desire for belief and his equally acute skepticism. Chiefly, however, what irradiates the poetry and compels the reader is a quality of wisdom. Everything is carried and feels guaranteed by the voice.”