Homage paid to Wisława Szymborska, by Małgorzata Smorąg-Goldberg

Fine Arts Museum of Belgium (in the framework of the Midis de la Poésie)
The Cultural Service of the Polish Embassy in Belgium is joining forces with the Midis de la Poésie to pay homage to Wisława Szymborska, who died on 1 February 2012. Małgorzata Smorąg-Goldberg will give a conference entitled Wisława Szymborska : Entre ravissement et désespoir. Catherine Nowak will read poems by the great writer. And in order to celebrate her life in a dignified fashion, a musical tribute will also be paid to her.

Practical  |  the conference  |  the writer  |  the speaker  |  the narrator

The Midis de la poésie are conferences held by two people in order to present and read poetry from today and yesterday, from here and abroad, on Tuesdays from 12:40 until 13:30, in the small auditorium at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique). Fifty minutes to discover something new, allow ourselves to be moved or meet interesting people.

>>> http://www.midisdelapoesie.be/

Wisława Szymborska : between delight and despair

Wislawa Szymborska lived through the second half of the XXth century without drawing much attention to herself before attracting the gaze of the world’s media, and an even bigger audience, when she received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996.
Throughout her career, spanning more than fifty years and punctuated with fourteen poetry anthologies published in Poland (between 1952 and 2009), Szymborska demonstrated a perfectly independent creative approach which nonetheless always remained at the heart of the issues driving her contemporaries, without ever allowing this loyalty to stop her moving on and developing in her work. The anthology generally considered to be her masterpiece, Wszelki wypadek (‘Could Have’, 1972), led to literary acclaim for Szymborska in her country. Each of the anthologies which followed, which also revealed her taste for things being ‘just so’, her horror of excess and her distrust of grand artistic ambitions, were equally well-received. Translated into many languages, her poetry easily transcended the borders of her country thanks to her lucid style and the universal nature of the issues which she addressed. One year after her death, this conference will be a chance to pay tribute to this ‘grande dame’ of European literature.


Szymborska was born in 1923 in Bnin, near to Poznań in Poland. In 1931, her family moved to Krakow, the intellectual capital of Poland, where she remained throughout her life, making the cafés and bookshops which abound in the city her own private university (where she studied literature and sociology). Szymborska belonged to the sacrificed generation which came of age in the shadow of Hitler and began its adult life under the Soviet heel. She claimed that these years had an emotional and intellectual impact: it was thus as a writer left profoundly affected by the tragedy of the Second World War that she published her first poems, starting in 1945, in the journals and reviews for which she had begun to work. The long-time editor of the weekly review Życie Literackie (‘Literary Life’) Szymborska was also a translator. She played her part in familiarising a Polish public with French Baroque poetry, in particular Les Tragiques by Agrippa d’Aubigné. In 1996, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in recognition of her work. Szymborska died in Krakow on 1 February 2012.

Catherine NOWAK

Catherine Nowak is a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels with qualifications in Declamation (2003) and Dramatic Arts (2004). Her desire to work on poetic and prose texts led her to complete a degree in the Art of Oratory (2005).
An actor who has appeared in ‘La supplication, chronique du monde après l’apocalypse’ (by S. Alexievitc), ‘Confession de femmes’ (various authors), ‘Old Times’ (sketches by H. Pinter) and ‘Peter and the Wolf (S. Prokofiev), she attaches great importance to sharing poetry in its many forms (in ‘Borges & Moi’ or ‘Iradium Jugle’  [J. Crickillon] to give some examples).
She is also involved in teaching drama (to people aged 7 to 77!) at teaching academies in Jette and Watermael-Boitsfort, and Anderlecht.

Małgorzata SMORĄG-GOLDBERG is a senior lecturer at the Department for Slavonic Studies at the Université Paris-Sorbonne and a researcher at CIRCE (Centre Interdisciplinaire de Recherche Centre-européenne). A graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Yale University and the Sorbonne, she specialises in Polish and central European literature.
Alongside her classes, she continues her research on the avant-garde novel in Polish literature in the 1930’s, in particular in the work of Witold Gombrowicz (publication of the work Witold Gombrowicz, une gueule de classique? Bilan d’un demi-siècle d’enquête critique, Institut d’Etudes Slaves, Paris, 2007) and Bruno Schulz, about whom she is currently writing a book entitled Constructions identitaires des artistes juifs centre-européens: cas de Bruno Schulz.
She also translates from Polish: K. Kieślowski & K. Piesiewicz, Décalogue, Récits (co-translated with Beata Canes-Boussard), Balland, Paris, 1990 ; J. Iwaszkiewicz, Amis, Balland, Paris, 1993 ; H. Grynberg, California Kaddish, Folies d’Encre, Paris, 2007 ; M. Edelman, La Vie malgré le ghetto, Liana Levi éd., Paris, 2010 ; etc.


>>> Petit auditorium, Fine Arts Museum of Belgium (rue de la Régence 3, 1000 Brussels) - MAP
>>> 12:40 > 13:30 (doors open at 12:30)
>>> €6 | €3 (School parties and Conservatory students)
If used the same day, the ticket provides access to the Musée d’Art ancien as well as to the selection of works on modern art in the patio and at level + 1 of the Patio.
>>> Metro stations Parc and Gare Centrale | Bus 27, 29, 38, 71, 95 | Trams 92 et 94 | Parking Poelaert




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