Talking to My Body, by Anna Swir

Every word is an instrument in Anna Swir’s Talking to My Body

When you hear a poem or poet or anybody or rock say, “I have the right / to see myself,” it is what it is. Listen to them. And here, in my opinion, lies the core of Anna Swir’s Talking to My Body and her poetry as a whole. There lies poetry, architecture, music, electricity, hair, codes, colour, revolution, sex, evolution, name all. The right to sight: a fundamental capacity that makes every form of life, whether living or non-living thing. You are making no faulty truth to call what Anna says the freedom statement. It is a revelation, an account, an expression, a declaration; it is faith and other things.

So who is the ‘I’? Who is the ‘myself’? What is ‘the right’? What does the ‘I’ actually ‘have’? Why and how is that ‘see’ possible?

Every word is an instrument or object if you like. Say an egg falls and breaks. What I have just said is not only a translation of what happened to the egg, but also an evidential collection or gathering of several movements in effect within and without the egg’s change in form, state and place. As simple as it is complicated.

I am digressing. Interestingly, digression is also what she wants us to aspire to. Deviate, depart, stray, wander, move away, differ, all these are words too.

In her work, Chilean poet Cecilia Vicuña said: “Word is thread and the thread is language.” More from Cecilia:


Word is thread and the thread is language.

Non-linear body.

A line associated to other lines.

A word once written risks becoming linear, but word and thread exist on another dimensional plane.

Vibratory forms in space and in time.

Acts of union and separation.

The word is silence and sound. The thread, fullness and emptiness.


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” —John 1:1 (KJV)

A full poem by Anna Swir. This is titled ‘Her Death is in Me’:


Only after mother’s death,

I learned with amazement

that we were not

one person.


And it’s precisely then,

more than any other time,

we became

one person.


Her living death

lived for long months

in my living flesh.

She was in me day and night,

I felt her

inside me, like a child.

Her death will be in me till the end. (p. 30)


Knowledge: “I breathe happiness instead of air, / slowly and deeply” (p. 42), and yet “I am dying from happiness.” (p. 43)

Feel to free say that poems are inertial forces. And the poet, being human herself, is free or has “the right to see.”

In this book there are conversations with the dead, the dying, the living, the unborn and the unknown. Outburst, inquiry, irony, embrace, laughter, cry, ecstasy. Shadows are illuminated. And she says, “I cannot leave myself.” (p. 69). Walt Whitman in his famous verse says: “I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

Taking to My Body was translated into English by Cszlaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan. I wish I understood Polish to get a first-hand lingual experience of Anna’s poems.

Singular: mother, child, father, sibling, female, male, rivers, flowers, fulfillment, fowls, home, bodies, and so on. Anna Swir says, “we look at each other / with four eyes.” (p. 48). Body and soul, we look at each other. Knowing that: “What remains / is nothing but the pleasure of longing…” (p. 88). Knowing that: “I will leave you all my body / to pla