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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » July 9, 2008
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Multimedia Poetry Evening
July 9, 2008   
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Reading poetry usually takes only an open mind and a book of poems, but why not use theater actors, film projectors, large screens and the summer scenery of an old Warsaw square? This idea has been embraced by the organizers of a multimedia show that will take place July 27 on Krasiński Square in Warsaw as the climax of a yearlong series of events remembering the late Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert.

Herbert, who was born in 1920 in Lviv and died in 1998 in Warsaw, was one of the most famous and influential Polish poets of the 20th century. He made his debut in communist Poland during the political thaw of the latter half of the 1950s.

Some of his most well-known works include love poems collected in the Chord of Light volume of verse and a series of contemplative poems centered around the titular Mr. Cogito. The latter won Herbert several international awards, including the 1979 Petrarch Prize in Verona, Italy.

Herbert also wrote essays about the construction of medieval cathedrals in France (The Barbarian in the Garden) and classical Dutch painting (Still Life with a Bridle). His other works include a poetic book entitled Report from a Besieged City with a symbolic portrayal of the moral dilemmas of the Polish people during martial law in the early 1980s.

In the past several years Herbert's work has become the subject of a political debate, incited predominantly by extreme rightist politicians. This alone makes it worthwhile attending the multimedia show in Warsaw, which seeks to introduce Herbert's work to young people who know little about life in Poland two, three or four decades ago.

The show will consist of two parts. In the first half, Herbert's poems will be accompanied by photos taken by Chris Niedenthal, a British-born photographer of Polish parentage, during martial law in Poland. During the other part, actors will perform a play Herbert wrote about Homer. The show will involve video art screenings and live jazz improvisations.

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Herbert: A Reconstruction of the Poet, July 27, 9 p.m., Krasiński Square, Old Town in Warsaw.
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