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Poetry and conversation with Grzegorz Kwiatkowski

The Program in Jewish Studies and the Department of English at Johns Hopkins University are pleased to present an afternoon of poetry and conversation with the Polish poet and musician Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, whose poetry (along with the music he performs with his band, Trupa Trupa) address issues of historical memory and forgetting, especially around fascism and the murder of Polish Jews during the Nazi period. In addition to offering a reading of his poems, Kwiatkowski will be joined by two U.S.-based respondents, Zackary Sholem Berger and Karen Underhill, who will engage him in conversation about the state of poetry and the arts in contemporary Poland as well as the political and social role of poetry and popular music more generally.

This event will be moderated by Kenneth Moss, professor of history, and Chris Nealon, professor of English.

Grzegorz Kwiatkowski is a Polish poet and musician, an author of several books of poetry revolving around the subjects of history, remembrance, and ethics. He is also a member of a psychedelic rock band Trupa Trupa. He has been a beneficiary of numerous international literary programs such as “Artist in Residence” in Vienna and “Styria Artist in Residence” in Graz, Austria. Kwiatkowski co-hosts the workshop “Virus of Hate” at the University of Oxford. He was also a guest lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Chicago; Jewish Theological Seminary; the University of Cambridge and the Ted Hughes Society (“Crow at 50”) and Miroslaw Balka’s Studio of Spatial Activities at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He is a member of a European literature platform Versopolis. His music and literary works have been published and reviewed in The Guardian, Modern Poetry in Translation, New Poetry in Translation, CBC, Pitchfork, Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Billboard, Spin, Chicago Tribune, Times, NPR, BBC, and KEXP. As a musician, he performed with his band at such events as Desert Daze Festival, Rockaway Beach Festival, SXSW, Primavera Sound, and Iceland Airwaves. Trupa Trupa’s music has been published by record labels such as Sub Pop, Glitterbeat Records, Ici d’ailleurs, and Lovitt Records.

Zackary Sholem Berger is a poet and translator in Baltimore, working in Hebrew, Yiddish, and English. His own multilingual poetry has appeared in a number of venues. His recent translation of the Yiddish-language fictions of Avrom Sutzkever appeared in 2020 from White Goat Press. By day he is a physician and bioethicist.

Karen Underhill is associate professor of Polish literature and Polish-Jewish studies in the Department of Polish, Russian and Lithuanian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research at the intersection of Polish and Jewish cultures and literatures focuses on 20th century Polish and Yiddish literatures, diasporic modernisms, and Poland as a multilingual and pluralist space of encounter. She is author of Bruno Schulz and Galician Jewish Modernity, forthcoming from the University of Indiana Press. Her current research explores changing narratives of Poland’s Jewish past, and modern literary forms that arise at the intersection of theology and materialism: “Writing in the Third Language.”