Excerpt Wednesday – Cat in An Empty Apartment – Szymborska

CatInanEmptyAptI have to thank Maia T. (a shaman, poet, and cross-stitcher who lives in rural Scotland – check out her blog here!) for introducing me to this poem. This poem is from the cat’s perspective and Ms. Szymborska captures it perfectly and in the process mixes sorrow and laughter together in equal measure. To see what I mean, head over here to read the complete poem. Long famous in her native Poland, Wisława Szymborska became internationally renown after she won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. I found the words of the poem themselves to call to me, the shape of the letters and punctuation, so I used them to create the illustration. Poem by Wisława Szymborska, translated from Polish by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh, illustration (ink on recycled cardboard) by me. Have a good Wednesday! 

34 comments

    1. You are so welcome! I do not mind at all – and I am so pleased you wanted to share it! I am also glad you enjoyed it and it brought you joy – I believe that is there is healing power in some of the best poetry.

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  1. My first thought, just because you’re brilliant, was “I want one.” The illustration ink gives it a really cool 1960’s Paris look. Cardboard is a wonderful medium as I appreciate anything recycled. I imagine you used a small alphabet stencil or wood/rubber stamp with the typeface? If you did everything manually I imagine it would go faster but that script font means you’re a genius.

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    1. Thank you so much! I would put the blushing emoticon in here if I knew how to do it in WP! 🙂 I love using recycled material too – not only for the ecological benefits, but for the freedom. I find myself much less inhibited when I use found or recycled media. I did use a “typewriter key” rubber stamp set for the letters, so it was a one letter at a time affair. But the slow pace was good, it allowed me to really plan and consider each letter and its place in the composition.

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  2. Hi Marcy, it’s lovely to meet you, thanks for stopping by my blog. I love the combination of image and words and this one is brilliant. I’m off now to have a tour of your blog. Thank again for connecting.

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    1. Thank you, Jean! Same to you, it is delightful to meet you – I am appreciative that thegreyeye introduced you to me through her blog! I am looking forward to exploring your website, you have quite a bit of great material on there.

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  3. Fantastic illustration! That poem though gave me a familiar crisis of conscience as I think of going on vacation in June and returning to Claudio crying from room to room (long after we’re home): I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD! Kills me every time. But he gets over it… ^_^

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    1. Thank you, Sunshine! When we’ve been gone for a couple of weeks on vacation, my cat puts on the same act the cat in the poem describes in the last stanza – he won’t look at you and shuns your pets at first and once you are properly punished, he will grace you with his presence again! There’s one of those pet meme pictures that was making the rounds and it showed a dog sitting with a pathetic face in a room that’s been absolutely destroyed and it says “I thought you were never coming back so I panicked” 😀

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  4. Wow! i love this! What you’ve done with the type complements the poem perfectly. When I read the first line of the poem, I was confused. It’s surprising how many seconds it took for me to “get” it. Once I did, I loved it. An unusual perspective. Nice.

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    1. Thank you, Jilanne! I had the same reaction the first time I read the first line – the title does not give you a clue to the mortal nature of the situation. The denial and indignation is so uniquely “cat” and yet so human too…

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    1. Thank you, Kerfe! I am envious that your daughter has your typewriter – I was looking at purchasing an old one on Ebay perhaps and the prices ranged wildly, especially for the shipping, even for some that don’t work! Plus, as you said, ribbons are hard to get. But I am still tempted to buy one! I am working right now with stamps made from typewriter keys and I’d love to work with the real thing!

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      1. That’s a good idea! I also keep meaning to ask my grandmother if she still has hers in a closet somewhere. We used to play with it as children – I remember typing a poem about unicorns and dolphins on it!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jana! I love how the picture “came into focus” for you after reading the poem – that is fantastic! It is the interactions that inspire my work, so thank you for your comment.

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    1. Thank you, Susi! Even though I am the one that arranged the words into the picture, the new associations, shapes, and words they make now surprises me every time I look!

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    1. Thank you so much, Claudia! This was my first introduction to Szymborska and I am eager to read more of her. The Nobel Prize committee described the reason for her award “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality.” (I would argue cat reality as well). I am looking forward to seeing how she tackles human versions of this cat’s quandary!

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      1. I think you will really like her work. It is clear and yet not ordinary at all. She really digs into things with pretty simple words and structures that when you think about them, are not so simple. Amazing to me.

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  5. I’m glad to see you chose this poem. She nails cat outrage at being left behind so perfectly, and you did a beautiful job with it; I love the presence of the unlit lamp.

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    1. I loved this poem the instant you introduced it to me – thank you again! – and I returned to several times over the last few months before deciding which direction to go with it. I am so glad you like the result!

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