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Catalog Archive / Fall 2023

Translated by Bill Johnston

Wisconsin Poetry Series
Sean Bishop and Jesse Lee Kercheval, Series Editors
Ronald Wallace, Founding Series Editor

“Fiedorczuk is, deservingly, an international literary star who writes distinctively across genres. In this innovative, formally restless collection, the divine and bacterial, children and rivers, war and eros mix—kaleidoscopically—in unsettling poems that serve as hymns to the sacrality of life—all life, even the life of rocks. Somehow, I don’t know how, Johnston’s translation catches the music, the vowel rhyme, the staggered, restless phrasings of the originals, and Fiedorczuk’s poignant, broken tones of supplication and gratitude.”
—Forrest Gander, judge of the Wisconsin Prize for Poetry in Translation and author of Twice Alive

“A poet’s job is to write,” says Julia Fiedorczuk in the closing poem of Psalms. But she far surpasses that modest goal: this volume sings. Translator Bill Johnston masterfully captures the rhythm, the cadence, and the flow of Fiedorczuk’s Polish poems (included here on facing pages) for English-language readers.

Fiedorczuk was inspired by her readings of the original Hebrew Psalms as well as by the process of learning to sing. In her poems she captures the heartache and joy of these biblical songs but in the context of modern life—addressing climate change, loss of biodiversity, the upheavals of migration, and, in her most recent poems, the return of war to Europe. Fiedorczuk writes of the natural world, the built environment, motherhood, brotherhood, and of vast and tiny passages of time. And as she does, she discovers a new voice, singing to soothe and inspire.


Julia Fiedorczuk. Photo credit, Albert Zawada. Julia Fiedorczuk was awarded the 2018 Szymborska Prize, Poland’s most prestigious poetry award, for Psalmy (Psalms), and has received many other honors. The author of six volumes of poetry, two novels, a collection of short stories, and three critical books, Fiedorczuk is a professor of American studies and a cofounder of the Environmental Humanities Center at Warsaw University. Her poems have been translated into many languages.

Bill Johnston. Photo credit, Isabelle Darcy-Johnston. Bill Johnston received the 2019 National Translation Award in Poetry for his rendering of Adam Mickiewicz’s rhyming verse narrative Pan Tadeusz. His other awards include the PEN Translation Prize and the Best Translated Book Award. He teaches literary translation at Indiana University.




“Dark as the present and just as bright, these poems chant and ask questions and parent and count and do everything you would passionately know to do right at the edge of a cliff.”
—Eileen Myles, author of a “Working Life”

“[Johnston] renders with admirable precision and concision the spare rhythms of the Polish original. . . . Fiedorczuk’s simultaneous love of and fear for humanity, and love of and fear for the natural world, animate Psalms. . . . The possibility of transcendence is never far from these poems.”
World Literature Today



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Table of Contents


Krajobraz z dziewczynką / Landscape with Little Girl
Świeto grudnia / Feast of December

Psalm I
Psalm II
Psalm III
Psalm IV
Psalm V
Psalm VI
Psalm VII
Psalm VIII
Psalm X
Psalm XI
Psalm XII
Psalm XIII
Psalm XV
Psalm XVII
Psalm XIX
Psalm XXII
Psalm XXIV
Psalm XXV
Psalm XXIX
Psalm XXX
Psalm XXXI
Psalm XCI
Psalm XCII

przejściowo / for now
[z wnętrza cielesnej pojedynczości / From within my bodily singularity]
po drodze / on the journey
Pogoda / Weather
Poezja natury / Nature Poetry

About Psalms


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October 2023
106 pp. 6 x 9

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Paper $17.95
ISBN 9780299346942
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