Adam Zagajewski

1945 –

Poet, novelist, and essayist Adam Zagajewski was born in Lwów (Lviv), Ukraine, on June 21, 1945. He spent his childhood in Silesia and then in Cracow, where he graduated from Jagiellonian University.

Zagajewski first became well known as one of the leading poets of the Generation of ‘68, or the Polish New Wave (Nowa Fala), and is one of Poland’s most famous contemporary poets. His eight books of poetry in English include the posthumous collection True Life: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023), first released in Poland in 2019 and translated into English by Clare Cavanagh; as well as Asymmetry: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018); Eternal Enemies: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008); Without End: New and Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002); and Mysticism for Beginners (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997), all of which were also translated by Cavanagh. 

Zagajewski is also the author of a memoir, Another Beauty (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000), translated by Cavanagh, and four other prose collections, including Two Cities: On Exile, History, and the Imagination (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995) and Solidarity, Solitude: Essays (Ecco Press, 1990), both of which were translated by Lillian Vallee. His poems and essays have been translated into many languages.

Among Zagajewski’s honors and awards are a fellowship from the Berliner Kunstlerprogramm, the Kurt Tucholsky Prize, a Prix de la Liberté, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2010, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Starting in 1988, Zagajewski served as a visiting associate professor of English in the creative writing program at the University of Houston. He also served as co-editor of Zeszyty literackie (Literary Review), which was published in Paris from 1982 to 2018.

Zagajewski lived in Paris and Houston until his death on March 21, 2021.