Chilean art collective, Casagrande, chose Warsaw as the site for its 2009 art project, Bombing of Poems. This project targets cities that have once suffered from aerial bombardment and aims to give new meaning to the city’s tragic past.

In 2009, the city celebrated the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. In addition to its traumatic history, the art collective states that they chose Warsaw for its literary tradition. The 100,000 poems—arriving suddenly in the night, as a bomb would—were penned by contemporary Chilean and Polish poets and printed in two languages.

As to Warsaw’s past, the collective states, “We recognise the unquestionable and universal importance of these historical experiences, still formative today for the inhabitants of Warsaw as well as for the identity of the Europeans in general.”

Calypso Editions’ newly released book, Building the Barricade and Other Poems, includes the best of renowned Polish poet Anna Swir’s poems about the Warsaw Uprising.


for Prof. Władysław Tatarkiewicz

An old man
leaves the house, carrying books.
A German soldier grabs the books
and throws them in the mud.

The old man picks up the books,
the solider hits him in the face.
The old man falls,
the solider kicks him and walks away.

The old man
lies in mud and blood.
Underneath, he feels

—translated by Piotr Florczyk

And here is Warsaw in 2009, under siege with poems:

The art project began in 2001, when the art collective dropped a bomb of poems on Chile’s government palace, originally bombed by Pinochet in 1973. Following their home country, Casagrande visited Dubrovnik, Croatia in 2002 (shelled in 1991 by Serbian and Montenegrin forces), and two years later, Guernica, Spain, the target city of the first Nazi air-bombardment in 1937.

For more information on Casagrande’s Bombing of Poems project, visit:

For more information on Swir’s Building the Barricade and Other Poems, visit our Bookstore.