A native of Kraków, Poland, Piotr Florczyk came to the U.S. when he was sixteen. He is a prolific writer and translator with numerous books and smaller pieces in various publications like The New Yorker, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Slate. A founding editor of Calypso Editions, Piotr continues to bring great literature from diverse places to readers both through the press as well as in his classroom. We caught up with Piotr and asked him to give us just the facts.
WHO are you currently thinking of most?
My wife Dena, as always!
WHAT language currently fascinates you?
Our American English—it’s easy to look past its impoverished grammar when there are so many wonderful words and expressions to play with. That’s why my native Polish gets jealous sometimes, although that doesn’t stop it from continuously slipping away from me. One day I’ll have no choice than to let it go for good.
WHERE do you find your best inspiration?
In the Arts—and in their better half: Life.
WHY did you translate Anna Swir’s book’s title as “Building the Barricade”?
A more faithful translation would’ve been “I Was Building a Barricade,” but doesn’t that sound flat? Plus, the project itself is very much ongoing; the poems both build and tear down barricades of history, memory, love, hate, the human body, among other themes and contexts.
WHEN do you get your best ideas?
When I exercise.
HOW do you want your writing to change the world?
Once I write something down, a poem or an essay, it acquires a life of its own. I’d rather not think about what my writing does when it leaves the house.