The Squatters' Gift

The Squatters' Gift

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Author: Robert Rybicki

Translator: Mark Tardi

Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (2021)

The Squatters' Gift is a poetic travelogue through numerous languages and locales, both real and imaginary. Like Miron Białoszewski, Paul Celan and Tristan Tzara before him, Rybicki excavates syllable and song, mind and muck, to invent a transnational poetry pointedly unapologetic and utterly unique. Karol Maliszewski observes that Rybicki has taken over from the Surrealists and the Dadaists: “the hero of these poems is language –– escaping from a man and suddenly returning in flashes and dazzles."

The opening lines of The Squatters’ Gift, is reminiscent of a sort of vagabond Jack Gladney from Don DeLillo’s acclaimed White Noise, wandering the supermarket aisles in a consumerist haze: “The supermarket / melts / like a chocolate bar: / a dendrite stack.” But the comparison is short-lived and far too simplistic. It is only tenable if the comforts of ritualized shopping are multi-lingual and multi-dimensional, Greek mythology intersecting with 1980s Polish punk music, poetic string theory and time travel and psychedelic dumpster diving all rolled into one. It is this wanderlust and these sorts of imaginative leaps that animate much of The Squatters’ Gift and make it so incredible.