A review of London Manuscript by Anna Maria Mickiewicz

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

From Nowy Czas 2014

London Manuscript by Anna Maria Mickiewicz

 London Manuscript is a new volume of verse by Anna Maria Mickiewicz, a Polish-English poet writing in Polish and English and living and publishing in England. Based inLondon, she is a keen observer of the natural (parks and gardens) and cultural life of the Metropolis, aware of centuries of history behind her and the cultural landscape around her.

Her poems are epiphanies in which an instant observation, always rooted in a particular locality, may lead to other worlds: to Ancient Greece, Middle Ages or to thePolandof the poet’s youth. Socrates can be spotted in a quietLondongarden and “What if the woman on the beach was a cousin of Virginia Woolf’s?” The Dead are always with us in the communion of culture.

Being a Pole, and a distant relative of the great Polish romantic poet, Mickiewicz cannot leave behind the turbulent history of her country and Eastern Europe (transportations toSiberia, Marshal Law), which was also the history of her family and herself. The memories of “a crumbling world order”, generations “tainted by the pain of parting with the unsettled soil” add certain sadness and discord to the tone of this poetry, which seems to be in quiet and resigned harmony with its space and time.

Other poems, by contrast, are “impressionist” pieces (“Summer inSeaford”), evoking a passing moment, mood or sight, which allow the reader to see things from an unexpected perspective, to discover the unfamiliar in the familiar thanks to a well-crafted and perceptive metaphor. The poet has a special penchant for capturing watery phenomena: fogs, mists, puddles, “droplets of water”, so typical of English landscape and cityscape, but in the end they are always seen through the filter of culture; nature and culture coalesce.

A love of England, its nature and culture transpire from these poems, the poet seems to be very well rooted in her adopted country, but the outlook, metaphors, similes are her own and refreshing, drawing from the experience of living in two cultures, two histories and, last but not least, two languages. And for the reader it is an interesting and pleasing journey through this very sensual, but also marked by history and culture, poetic world.

Tomasz Niedokos

Tomasz Niedokos is a Lublin-based academic. He  works on English literature. His PhD was on „The Concept of English Culture in the Cultural Biographies of Peter Ackroyd”