Artur Grabowski (a.k.a. Art Grabov) was born in 1967 in Krakow, Poland. He is a poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, critic, and translator of English and Italian poetry. He studied literature and philosophy at the Jagiellonian University where he also received his doctorate and habilitation. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Polish Studies at the Jagiellonian University. His teaching and research focus on twentieth-century poetry and drama, theory of literature and theatre, and the relation between literature and philosophy. 

Grabowski has also lectured on modern literature and theatre at universities in Chicago, Seattle, Buffalo, and New Delhi. Additionally, he teaches creative writing and he has conducted theatre workshops in Poland, Italy, United States, India and Georgia. He is the head of the postgraduate creative writing program at his university. He has received scholarships from: the Fulbright Foundation, the Kosciuszko Foundation, the European Commission, the Polish Ministry of Culture and Baltic Centre, Visby. 

Artur and his wife and daughter are all natives and permanent residents of Krakow. Artur’s peripatetic inclinations have led him to spend several months in London and almost a year in Rome, over three years in the USA, and almost half a year in India. 

Grabowski is the author of seven collections of poems: 
From Stage Directions (1991), 
Duel (1998), 
Earthly Beginning (2001), 
Gray Man (2007), 
Brightening (2011) 
Pretty Flowers (2018), 
Three Islands (2024)

and a collection of selected poems: Versions 1986-2017 (PIW, Warsaw 2018);

He is author of two collections of plays:
- the book Third Time Lucky (1999) includes:
"Monodrama for two roles", a metaphorical marriage drama in the type of Strindberg and Beckett;
"The Fourth Person", a poetic drama for three female characters and a male ghost, it may resemble Chekhov;
"This Place", an abstract farce in form of absurd theatre.
- the book Three, four - a tragedy! (2015) includes:
"Virtues of Western Civilization", a structured series of eight contemporary micro-tragedies or short morality plays (English and Croatian versions available);
"Passages and Gates", an intimate drama set between father and daughter, some associate it with Sarah Kane’s style (French version available);
"Translating the Song of the Goat", an extensive rewriting (from Wyspianski and Kantor) of the myth narrating Odysseus' return to Ithaca, a poetic and multi-voice "opera";
"The Successor", a monodrama freely based on Hamlet, the protagonist is the son of a German doctor from a concentration camp. 
- In his texts for theatre Artur also likes experimenting with side-specific forms. In 2000, at the request of an Italian producer, he wrote the mini-drama "The Well" (Italian and English version available); set in a medieval courtyard it is a metaphor for the relationship between Western and Eastern Europe. The show, based on his drama "Derby. Red-and-Whites", created by the Chorea theatre in Lodz and directed by Tomasz Rodowicz (available on YouTube), was awarded the Golden Mask for the 2014/15 season; it is a kind of a stage montage for an outdoor space, dealing with a theme of typical "war” of football fans, in which the author sees a contemporary embodiment of a romantic drama. Finally, in the year of the plague (2020), he has written a short radio drama to be presented in the form of video streaming “At night, the voices can be seen better” (Polish Radio 3 production, video production on YouTube). His last published drama is a play for the camera "Island and Helicopter" (Dialog 10/2023). 

He is also author of several short stories and one novel: 
- Am. Journal from the other side (PIW, Warsaw 2018), written in form of an intimate journal is a record of a two-year stay of a visiting professor from Poland in the States, who is experiencing a midlife crisis; staying between a reflective Bildungsroman and a fictional personal essay it seems to be a hybrid literary genre. Am was nominated for the Joseph Mackiewicz Award and The Polish Book Institute recommended it for translations. 

He is author of three collections of essays: 
- Cage with a View (2004) contains essays on the literature of European Modernism (e.g: Musil, Broch, Hofmannsthal, Beckett, Baudelaire, Claudel, Eliot, Heaney);  
- Sensualisation (2011) is a collection of various sketches on spectacles, films, and visual arts; 
- What Poems Think (2021) is a series of philosophical reflections on the work of Polish poets of the second half of the twentieth century.

He is author of three theoretical books:
- Verse - form and meaning (1999) is a treatise on the semantics of modern versification;
- Herbert-Hermes (2013) is a monograph on Zbigniew Herbert's work in a comparative context;
- The Real Drama of Theatre. On Boguslaw Schaeffer's Metatheatre and Metadrama (2017) is a dissertation on the ontological foundations and performative presence of dramatic text on a stage, based on analysis of plays by an extremely avant-garde artist, playwright and composer.

Critics recognize Grabowski’s poetry as combining the purity of classical thought with a commitment to linguistic innovation; they emphasize a particular parallelism of the philosophical, contemplative dimension with sensual sensitivity. The poet intentionally escapes from choosing one style, each of his volumes brings a new poetic idiom. Grabowski's dramaturgy is valued particularly for its precise dialogues, combining emotional tension with intellectual content, and for author’s formal inventiveness. Theoreticians speak of the author's exceptional self-awareness, which always makes the formal aspect of his plays a subject of reflection. The essay and fiction of the author is characterized by a brilliantly flexible language, penetrating interpretations and an exceptional independence of thinking, supported by extensive, but unobtrusive erudition. In general, Artur Grabowski's writings can hardly be included in any literary category; it seems that the author's own intention is to remain outside the mainstream of contemporary literary culture. 


Sample of translations:




    (part I – left panel)


Early morning (not rosy-fingered dawn) they sleep

still in the tent. I step out

onto a narrow path above a plate-glass

lake, take in the scent, wet flesh,

of fresh-cut wood; springing

on loose boards, I sound out empty

knocks over deepening waters.


At dock’s end, I turn and sit – the wood road back,

ties without rails, hammered into

the beach at the high bank’s breach;

behind me (memory or fancy?) blue sky

reflecting in a greenish mirror, and a forest wall.


Shreds of fog flock like sheep

grazing on water

on either side of the bridge,


of which I (time to get back) am a pillar.




           (part II – right panel)


The sun blinds between clouds, stings skin,

hints at a storm. A pale noon shadow rounds

me tightly, every step in clandestine

focus. The grass invites me to a warm

bed, but I am on guard. Ahead


she lizard darts. She spurts toward

the pier end, stops shutter-snap short,

spins back, poses by the life

preserver, the white ring tangled

with green rope, stock still staring at a sloop

that points to the opposite shore, waiting

until, without warning, she flies off 


at top speed, then brakes mid-dock, kneels

and gingerly (Careful!) lies down along the edge.

Her hectic cheek nestled in her mother’s scent

of pine. She stretches her hand and

doesn’t reach, scoots forward, then leans

(Save her now?), and, at last, touches

the surface. I reveal myself, waving,

walking over this bridge,

this corridor of her house.


As I settle next to her, she lets me watch:

on one side the sun blazes, the other darkening clouds –

between, her fingertips disturb the image in the mirror.




         (part III – central panel)


At the end of a long pier,

a blue man in a red cap

sits, staring at the copper-gold

stripe on the water. His long pole, 


thin as a crack, points at the orange

circle stuck on the horizon. His line

is invisible, but, certainly, linking

him to the lake’s interior.


Left, his thin shadow printed

on the boards; foreground right,

his foreshortened image shimmers,

a picture by unsteady, unstudied hands.


From the shore, I see clearly

all three persons, this evening communion.


They, for sure, will soon begin

to disappear: first the sharp


shadow, next the elusive

reflection, finally that solid

presence. Then


I can call: Grandpa!

Grandpa! Grandpa!

And he will come.



translated from Polish by Artur Sebastian Rosman (“Solstice” magazine, Summer 2019)




Umbria — sub Iove


Full moon tonight;

darker the shadows

of the mountains.


The sparking voices of birds.

Surmises fallen into a net

of dread.


I couldn’t fall asleep. I left the tent

of imagination and beneath the open sky

stripped my body of memory,

fear, and desire.


Now we were as similar

as the two hems of one wound.


That’s all I remember. We lost ourselves

to the act of rhythm, I reckon,

filling now, voiding now

the lungs, the lungs.


At dawn we were awakened by dew and milky fog,

and the joyful melodies of herds coming down.

The mountains bent over us

like anxious seraphim

in consultation.



He hesitates


The ocean’s even breath. With certainty, monotony

the wave sows death and takes it back at once. The adoration

unceasing of the ritual free will that moves the line

there on the sand. Pebbles eternal, abandoned shells,

the supple bodies from the epoch of the first kingdom.


After a week (sometimes even earlier) I grow bored

with this game of give-and-take, which cheaply mirrors life.


But on the first day (usually toward evening): the weak certainty

that it’s all a pendulum motion — even

footsteps forward.


Memory takes on a pathetic rosy hue in the west.

I allow myself to believe in the rhythm of sacrifice and reward.

The momentary crack between escape and return:

horizon, horizon — necessary delusions.


Figures descend from the canvas and the darkened sunbathers uncover

the background; fabric checkerboard from beneath the darkening colours.

Somewhere a star will flash, as if winking

from the other shore.


Stare at it and you’ll stifle it, I think. The ocean

poses no questions now, but my breath responds:

even, and calm, unchanging, at one

with truth.



Door in the window

(a portion of an old piece)


I'm staring at an empty door

through a window opened deeply

into thick branches of silver spruce.

I’m ogling you, Sun, watching you caress

the unresponsive handle, while she returns

You your own radiant smile.

And I’m a little jealous, and a little

happy, that even You, even You

must wait on the porch, for Matter won’t let you in.


Translated by Charles S. Kraszewski (“Spoon River Poetry Review” 48.2)





My friend is a contractor, so everything

he says is concrete. As hard as an emergenc

night shift, and as short as a thirty

year mortgage in quiet proximity

to other mortal creatures. Our frequent

arguments end in politely stubborn

disagreements over the nearest place

to park. See, you’ve got to be as close

to your front door as possible

in order to slip out of public

sight, right? I’m


a poet, by the way. It frequently so

happens that our hands fall

together on the leaves

the wind has left for us

on the path between the parcels.


(original in English)


Foul weather

(a parable)


He left the house and sat down on the seashore.

Over there, far away, the navy-blue stripe beneath the uncovered sky.

Past it broad fields, as cold as a fish-skin fur.

Further on the greenish-yellow colour of life.

On the smooth strand, transparent crescents outlined in foam.


The concrete pier: fat seagulls impregnated by the wind,

vulgarly similar to hens gone lazy.

Sometimes one of them stands, takes the wind under her, and it lifts her up;

as indifferent as a kite in the greedy eyes of a child.


He listened, but understood nothing in that frenzy.

He stared long, but saw nothing, the wound remained closed.

Some of the seagulls shrieked, others sat there silently


Like a waste-land he yearned hopelessly

that they might sow signs in him, which would bloom as certainties.

He begged. But the wind was strong and filled his mouth.


Then some bomber-clouds flew in low, pulling the heavens behind them.

The cold absconded with the birds, singly, until the concrete was empty.

The sea moved within itself, the sand was patient.


He arose. Nothing more today. He licked the salt from his lips.


He returned by the flat path between the dunes;

he spooked a flock of sparrows, which were eating

(but only later he was amazed at this),

finding seed amidst the crystals of the sand.




for Adam W.


I’ve dreamt this once before: Piccadilly Circus —

just after a rain, at night, in June I reckon,

for the pavements the streets and Eros were all black,

and the neon lights spilt over a dark sky.

I’m walking barefoot over the canvas à la Jackson Pollack

doing action painting in his posthumous studio.

(If it hadn’t been an accident, he’d’ve gone straight to Hell I guess).

It’s as silent as on the first day, when the Lord God

created for himself heavenandearth and had not yet divided them.

In the distance I see the record store, that grand and expensive one;

I might listen to everything there, without the obligation of choosing.

But there’s no sound yet after all. For where should it spread

seeing that space is flat for the time being,


like an abstract painting on a round piazza,

the iris so close to the mirror

that it sees nothing beyond

what’s looking.


Translated by Charles S. Kraszewski (“Exterminating Angel Press, The Magazine”, Fall 2023)