In Passing

Urszula Kozioł
In Passing
  • Wydawnictwo Literackie
    Kraków 2007
    112 pages
    ISBN: 978-83-08-04102-4

As one might easily guess, Urszula Kozioł’s In Passing is a collection of poems about the ephemeral nature of our existence on earth, and that, in Kozioł’s words, something is always “erasing us from the praesens”, “withdrawing us from circulation step by step”, or “moving us beyond the threshold of the known”. This overriding idea about the end features in at least three stylistically different tales about old age and dying to be found in this book.
Kozioł tells some of these tales in a naïve folk style, and so they come close to poetry that sublimates and idealises difficult experiences. Thus in a sentimental tone Kozioł often records “reports of final moments”, which are half autobiographical, half fictional memories from childhood, involving partings with friends and relatives and conversations with her beloved. This stylisation into naivety and folk lyricism seems to express the attitude of the subject of the poem to the awareness that life is determined by death.
In a couple of other poems Kozioł comes close to describing an old person’s drama. In his mental images the world loses its familiar form, everything becomes horrible and totally unreal, because it is affected by illness. Thus the subject of the poem addresses someone snapping the thread of communication with the world: “tell me about your night/ that never fades”. In this collection, observations on the strange state of being the first person I, as he or she starts to think about his or her life with increasing detachment, become individual obituaries.
But almost right at the end Kozioł gives us some daring, joyful poems. In them she renounces her metaphor-rich language, replacing it with very sparing, almost haiku-style brevity. Here she writes that she is not afraid to be younger than herself and that she is not afraid to be in general. Such a confession thrown in among poems to life, and this display of a strong will to defeat adversity, testify to the consistency of a poet who in her writing relies above all on rational thoughtfulness.