A Celebration of Czeslaw Milosz

Where: The Unterberg Poetry Center, 1395 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10128

Tickets: $19/$10 age 35 and under, $10 online with discount code “POLE”, Tel. 212.415.5550


Czeslaw Milosz’s “trust in the delicious joy-bringing potential of art and intellect was protected by strong bulwarks built from the knowledge and experience that he had gained at first hand and at great cost.” – Seamus Heaney, 2004

The Polish parliament has declared 2011 the Milosz Year in honor of one of Poland’s greatest cultural figures, and the Polish Cultural Institute in New York is honored to announce the first US event in an international celebration of the centennial of the birth of Nobel Prize winning poet, essayist, translator, and scholar, Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004).

The Unterberg Poetry Center, which hosted six readings by Czeslaw Milosz during his lifetime, now in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute in New York have invited Milosz’s friend and Berkeley colleague, poet Robert Hass, translator and Milosz biographer Clare Cavanagh, and one of the most important contemporary Polish poets also dividing his time between Poland and the US, Adam Zagajewski, to read and reflect upon the poet’s life and work at the 92nd Street Y.

One hundred years after his birth, fifty-seven years after the publication of his seminal essay [The Captive Mind], Milosz’s indictment of the servile intellectual rings truer than ever: “his chief characteristic is his fear of thinking for himself.” – Tony Judt, New York Review of Books, 2010

Branded a “catastrophist” by critics of his early poetry in the 1930s, publishing underground at great risk during the Second World War, challenged by leftist intellectuals in Paris in the 1950s for seeking asylum from the Polish Communist government, criticized by Polish emigres for having served as a diplomat in the same government, joining the anti-war movement at Berkeley in the 1960s, and questioned by conservative Catholics as a heretic at his burial, Czeslaw Milosz lived a full life as an independent thinker and as an inspiration to others struggling against the prevailing forces in their own contexts. Milosz spent over 40 years in the United States, becoming an important figure in the West Coast poetry scene, across the country, and throughout the world, and many of the Milosz Year events in the United States in 2011 will focus on his time in America and his American legacy.


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