Agnieszka Studzinska was born in Poland in 1975. She came to England in the early 80’s. She studied Cultural Studies at Norwich School of Art & Design and has an MA in Creative Writing from the UEA. She has previously worked as a freelance researcher in broadcasting and now teaches and lives in London with her husband and two children. Snow Calling (Salt Publishing, 2010) is her debut collection and was shortlisted for the London Festival New Poetry Award 2010.
Snow Calling is Agnieszka Studzinska’s debut collection, examining the fractures, the breaches of things, bringing a narrative meditation on the entity of displacement, whether in a relationship, ancestry or with oneself. The poems trace the delicate journey of transgression and coming together of family and history in their lyrical and elegiac styles, capturing the contradictions of what is whole and what is left behind. The poems show the equivocal nature of an ordinary moment, opening that ordinariness into something much bigger than the actual, the specific. These poems explore what it means to be human and question silently the unanswerable.
“Agnieszka Studzinska’s poems are at once delicate – in their use of subtle language, sparse form and precise image; but also emotionally powerful – in their strong evocation of the lives of women, love affairs and illness. These qualities are reminiscent of the work of poets such as Mary Oliver and Louise Glück, and are not common in British poetry today. These are brave and beautiful poems which will remain with you.”
– Tamar Yoseloff
“Agnieszka Studzinska’s poems convey the strangeness and freshness of the world, as if it were inscribed on memory or out of memory onto language sharp enough yet transparent enough to let us see and feel it.”
– George Szirtes
“In Agnieszka Studzinska’s spacious poems, the precision and uncertainty of nature invoke the fragility of what it is to be human, what it is to love.”
– Anne-Marie Fyfe
She speaks rain to launder daylight, to be green—
decipher the relationship of light to half light,
liquid to stone, to herself, the unspeakable
alphabet of someone’s escape into more light.
She listens to the measure of a fall, lilt of its travel,
the rhetorical pattern it cuts—She is untold.
She speaks rain with rain slipping
on a pavement’s tongue into a pavement’s throat,
swallows the deception of this lightness
mouths its bleached ambivalence
as it descends between territories—
the discomfort, a wet splinter in skin.
The fish like limp flowers in her salt eaten hands
rubbing flakes into fish skin, as if to awaken them
from a bottomless sleep, eyes sea-black summoned
in shock, jolted into absence with a glutinous glare
or troubled by one action leading another:
like kissing for instance—an intrusion of tongue
through a backstairs world—the fall which follows,
like a gust of breath alloyed in its own loss.
Growing older is like this—
watching two carp swimming in the bath
from a child’s horizon, in awe
of their synchronised flow of love,
their ugly, dun beauty unaware, just swimming
together in the stark water knowing only how to be—
I wonder if we can ever be them, so complete
and unhinged by fear of being lonely—or losing
the other in the life we’ve driven—
if I too will stand in a kitchen, years from now
with death in my hands elegantly held
and think of skinning fish,
desiring to return them to water.
Rumours like rain fall on a meadowland
in a village, in a country, in a town, a house
on a plot of earth—an ear drum
pressed to the ground
the landscape flat enough to fold
into an envelope like a letter
bearing what you didn’t want to hear—
people shredded like wood,
the wolf howling for his pack
as his teeth sink further,
printing new borders with his paws
licking his fur in the coppice of snow.
She kept calling with all her breath thinning
like a brook downwards until we surrounded
her—drifting clouds across the spine of its
bearer, you call this living? she would say,
gesturing to the stucco walls of the self.
You showed us solitude—
it’s pattern of waking to the drift of yourself
in a distant room where you watch the trees
no longer weaving the open space,
leaves unravelling nothing short
of their own mysterious descend
as each one drops, you sink further
into their meticulous world of camouflage
and steal your own memories—
a fox in the tulip darkness, her call
is the shrill that wakes what’s human
muffles this hearing with feathers
brings all that is free, all that is particle
through the pores of midnight.
Tonight is a boiled potato, indefinable sweetness covered in salt.
Tonight the potato is in the womb of our palms.
Tonight she delivers lines of our descent.
Tonight is a root dug from soil by hands moulding burrows.
Tonight is the dearth, a near divorce in the bootlicked air
of the 40’s, it is all the stories you have hidden
in the peelings of all the things you have lost.
Tonight is a liver-spotted hour on a plate,
or that apparition through a window
that opens a decade like earth or a meditation
which flits like a wing, resting long enough
to catch the colour of white.
Tonight, around this table I am digging potatoes for her.
from Snow Calling (Salt Publishing, 2010).
Order Snow Calling here or here.
Read Ken Head’s review of Snow Calling on Ink Sweat & Tears.
Visit Nisia’s website.
Visit Nisia’s blog.