Victor Contoski - Homecoming

Victor Contoski’s poems, translations of contemporary Polish poets, and book reviews have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. He taught American Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Kansas from 1969 until his retirement in 2006. He was given the HOPE Award by the class of 2000 as the outstanding progressive educator at that university. He has published 10 books of his own poetry and three books of translations of contemporary Polish poets. His work has been translated into German, French, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Serbian, and Japanese.

"I’ve known and loved the poems of Victor Contoski for many years. These poems are the observations and fables of an alien angel come to earth, a kind of Puck who in the same breath can both laugh and weep at the human scene. The poem ‘Quantrill’s Raid’ says more about the icy core of American history than a generation of book club selections about the Civil War. Reading these poems makes me want to say again what I’ve long believed: Contoski is among the very best of our surrealist poets, and one who sounds like nobody else in our literature.”

—Ed Ochester, Editor, Pitt Poetry Series

Sample poem:

“The Uninvited”

I came late
and sat silently
at the back of the room.

I have never entered your house
never met your children
though their blood is mine.

Your births and your weddings
you celebrated without me.

I heard your music in the distance
and imagined your dancing
your laughter.

Now you fall silent
as the priest enters.
He approaches the coffin.
You rise. I rise.

If I cannot share your joy
let me share your sorrow.


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