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How to Start Writing (and When to Stop) // Wisława Szymborska

How to Start Writing (and When to Stop) // Wisława Szymborska

150 pages, 2000

#writing #literarycriticism #howtodo

At once kind and hilarious, this compilation of the Nobel Prize-winning poet’s advice to writers is illustrated with her own marvelous collages.

In this witty “how-to” guide, Wisława Szymborska has nothing but sympathy for the labors of would-be writers generally: “I myself started out with rotten poetry and stories,” she confesses in this collection of pieces culled from the advice she gave—anonymously—for many years in the well-known Polish journal Literary Life.

Szymborska’s assessments are refreshing to anyone who has gone through a writer’s “education” at American colleges and universities.

—Josh Christensen

Endlessly witty.

—Paula Erizanu, Calvert Journal

Her responses may seem harsh, but her criticisms are veiled insights, and her insights unveil depths.

Minor Literatures

A delightful collection of literary ephemera.

Publishers Weekly

Wit, wisdom and warmth are equally important ingredients in the mixture of qualities that makes her so unusual and every poem of hers so unforgettable. We love her poetry because we instinctively feel that its author genuinely (though by no means uncritically) loves us.

—Stanislaw Baranczak, The New York Times

Szymborska’s poetry had the gift of creating both the happiness of wisdom felt and the ecstatic happiness of the particulars of life fully imagined.

—Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

English edition:


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