Best Poet (2003)

Adam Zagajewski

First, he's courtly in a way that only an Eastern European intellectual could be. Just imagine him sipping imported tea from a tiny porcelain cup in his attic apartment as he composes his exquisite poems. Second, he is one of the kindest thinkers living among the rest of us troglodytes; he listens with the patience of a saint. But most important is his work. Never mind the fact that he's won multiple international awards and published well over a dozen books, and that he teaches aspiring poets at the University of Houston every spring. His poetry is the sort that can save you from the darkest night. Any doubters need only read his poem that The New Yorker published after September 11, 2001. The delicate Try to Praise the Mutilated World ended with these powerful lines: "Praise the mutilated world / and the gray feather a thrush lost / and the gentle light that strays and vanishes and returns."


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