Today’s #ReadIndies post features another favourite indie publisher of mine – the wonderful Glagoslav Publications. They’re an independent British-Dutch press specializing in the publication and worldwide distribution of English and Dutch translations of works from Slavic countries, as well as those bordering the Slav countries. I’ve read and covered a number of fascinating works they’ve released and today am delighted to be going in another new direction, as I’ve been reading a fascinating book of poems from a new author to me – “Poems about my Psychiatrist” by Andrzej Kotański, translated and introduced by Charles S. Kraszewski.

Now this is a new collection to me, but as the introduction makes clear, it’s a work which is astonishingly popular in its native Poland; and although that country loves its poets and their verses, in our modern age for a book of poems to sell so well is unusual. So what *is* it about “Poems…” which makes it so readable and popular?

Well, it’s a slim volume made up of page-long poems in blank verse, and many of them take the form of a dialogue between the narrator and his psychiatrist (as you might expect…) Although it’s not stated who is saying what lines, it’s pretty clear which is the view of the narrator and which of the psychiatrist! And the too and fro between the two is often very, very funny…

o please let’s not be
so afraid of the heebie jeebies
from the very dawn of history
no one’s ever been harmed by the heebie jeebies

Not all the poems are dialogues however; some are simply the narrator relating his thoughts about the psychiatrist, musing on issues in his life, and his failed relationships. The titles give a good hint of what’s contained here: “My psychiatrist went skiing”, “My psychiatrist has episodes of fury”, “My condition is stable”, “My psychiatrist doesn’t know what to do with me” – well, you get the picture! And also the titles hint at wry humour, which the poems do contain, although as the book progresses you realise that there’s a lot more going on under the surface.

The narrator is clearly someone who’s struggling to cope with life; as I mentioned earlier, there are failed relationships, loneliness and an apparent wish to flee from the everyday. Oddly, many of the characteristics of the narrator are reflected in his psychiatrist, to a point where you begin to wonder if there are two people in this dialogue or whether one is the projection of the other… Although the poems are clear and easy to read, they begin to undermine your certainties the further you get into the book; and this is a collection which definitely left me with many thoughts and questions at the end!

“Poems…” was first published in 2011, and this reissue contains an extra 10 poems added to the cycle as an addendum. They seem to me to fit in seamlessly with the original and I found the book a clever, fascinating and very thought-provoking collection. My response to poetry is always a very emotional one, and it has to click with me immediately; Kotański definitely did and I devoured this collection in big gulps, reslishing the wordplay and wit (well done that translator!) but also being struck by the underlying thoughts.

So “Poems about my Psychiatrist” turned out to be another stellar read from Glagoslav. I absolutely loved Andrzej Kotański’s verse, and sadly I think this may be the only volume currently available in English – but I do get that translating poetry is a particularly difficult branch of the translator’s art. If you’re in the mood to explore some entertaining yet thought-provoking poetry, I can highly recommend this book. Another winner from Glagoslav and I absolutely loved it! 😀