Karen Kovacik is Associate Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. She is the recipient of a number of awards, including a guest fellowship at the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Creative Writing, an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Fellowship, and a Fulbright Research Grant to Poland. Her poems and stories have appeared in many journals, and her translations of contemporary Polish poetry can be found in The Lyric, American Poetry Review, West Branch, and Poetry East. She is also the author of Beyond the Velvet Curtain, winner of the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize (Kent State University Press, 1999).
“In these lush and wry poems, Karen Kovacik returns to a city that burns in her imagination and ancestry, as she explores the once-gracious metropolis of Warsaw: its churches filled with ‘evangelists of shrapnel and of wax’; its architects designing modernist ‘radiant flat world[s]’ on their computer screens while living in dilapidated, centrally planned apartments ‘reeking of garbage’; its poets turning prematurely gray as they ‘kiss. . . in every dialect/of tobacco.’ Warsaw is ‘a coal on [her] tongue,’ as she feels charged with the prophet’s urgency to speak its name, and the names of other cities, in the voices of alternate selves, including the woman she might have been had her grandfather not emigrated from Silesia. With affection and irony, Kovacik makes her return, not only to a literal Poland in the last days of Soviet domination, but to the psychic landscape immersed and implicated in layers of history and conjugated in the ancestral mother tongue. Here, she blends the language of Eros with that of Realpolitik, in a collection of poetic love notes in which ‘all armaments have crossed the frontiers.’” –Carolyne Wright
“The beloved and ruined cities of Karen Kovacik’s Metropolis Burning are the substance of an individual and human history of the last century. In Warsaw, Krakow, and its near-neighbor Auschwitz; in Dresden, Prague, New Orleans, Belgrade, and Cleveland, she finds ‘Poetic justice: when image fits idea like a workboot.’ Out of her generous heart, her strict understanding of the crimp of labor on the free imagination, and her rare sense of humor, Karen Kovacik has made a gorgeous, multi-layered music I want to listen to again and again and again.” –Maggie Anderson