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Stained Glass Paperback – 1 Mar 2016
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In the poem “visitations”, she references the “wild strawberries”. While that may or may not be an allusion to the Bergman film (I rather suspect it is not), the life review of that movie fits in perfectly with his volume of verse poems.
Kurowska has four sections here: “Youth”, “Time of Grace”, “File #3”, and “Nothing”. The first three correspond to stages in her life, while the last, which is not as pessimistic as it sounds, provides an intriguing conclusion.
When she writes of the vanished Jewish presence in Poland (which was 10% Jewish prior to WWII), I am reminded of Johannes Bobrowski’s treatment of the same theme. Kurowska is as her best when writing of the old Poland, of Grandpa Witold, maiden aunts, and sleigh rides. She captures the transition to the Communist state whose rigidity forced her to flee to the West, taking her heritage with her.
There are a few recurrent themes here. The stained glass is something that she has rearranged. But is it to put back as it was, or to make something new? And with what is it indeed stained? She references attempts to return to the garden, to fly (“Icarus”), and the every-recurrent search for God as a being more of a reality than the figure as contained in childhood prayers.
Certain poems spoke to me, and bear one’s notice ” . All of the first section—“Youth”—and, from the following sections, “Mount Tabor”, “Icarus”, “the Berlin Boys”, “Christmas Now’, and “a thread”.
“Stained Glass” is an excellent volume of poetry that cries out to be read.
Stained Glass is my favorite of all of Joanna's poetry collections. Visually enterprising, this anthology is rich in emotions that one can connect with easily. Family bonding, memories unfolding, the quest for in-transient beauty, appreciation of light and acceptance of the dark are all translucently painted like impeccably textured stained glass panels. Loved that she chose the stained glass as a medium for her personal and artistic identity. The rhythmic coloristic interplay of words and feelings has the sweeping magic of a half lighted chapel in France or Belgium. Extraordinary!!!