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Sarwa, says be kind
to the wasps, show respect.
They’re at the end of their lives
just looking for some sweetness
before they die. Give them
what they want. I don’t think so,
I say, remembering one that crawled
into my can of Pepsi, the way
my lip swelled up that time.

And how come he notices
wasps but can’t see Govinda -
once Molly - worn out with looking
for their son Ramen, who’s twelve,
stoned three days in a row
while Sarwa sits drumming
in the late summer sun at Glastonbury.

Even so, for a moment the world
shifts on its axis, as one by one
the wasps land on my apple, caught
in rapturous absorption.
I can even see the delicacy
of their wings.

But when Govinda finally packs
her bags to leave him,
it’s Sarwa who looks up
as if he’d just been stung.

Other Publications

At the Library of Memories (2013)

Read moe...


Maria Jastrzębska Everyday Angels (2009)

Everyday Angels is a book filled with stories, such great vivid stories that span many worlds, that of Poland and Britain and those places where they overlap in the past and present. Jastrzębska’s poems have the beauty, warmth and rhythm of natural speech - a language that takes me directly into the poems. She has a ‘good ear’ and it serves her well. Moving, precise scenes and portraits bring a sense of true history. Tenderness and affection, grief and pain, duties and debts between generations, between us humans. Most of all, the poems show a deep respect for and fascination with people with all their faults and virtues and their marvels. I loved reading this unforgettable book.
Lee Harwood

There’s a subtlety and seeing-round corners perspective to her poems that could be Polish, could be queer or could just be pure Jastrzębska.
John O’Donoghue

To read the article 'All you can do is live in the moment', Daily Mail, regarding how to cope with family members suffering from dementia please click here


ISBN 978-1-906742-10-2


Maria Jastrzębska’s poetry explores major concerns of our age - exile, dementia and sexuality. She records the resilience of parents forced to leave their country, giving the places, people and rituals they left a shimmering, out-of-reach quality. This estrangement is embedded in language rich with names and phrases, always on the seam of the surreal. A mother at different stages of her life, but in particular fractured by dementia, girls on a bus, lovers, aunts - Jastrzębska’s writing is knowing and humane. This is an uplifting collection.
Jackie Wills

Maria Jastrzębska’s Everyday Angels leaves you to ‘expect only light’ from the marginal figures portrayed in the title poem and casting arresting shadows of narrative attention: paraffin stoves, parcels crossing borders, the everyday things thronging this powerful second collection of a poet transcribing from the fissure of Polish and English, translations of language and objects; and from one consciousness, one history, to another’s. Memorial and family – even familiar – poems frame Jastrzębska’s theme. Nothing is taken for granted as she scores her adoptive English with the memory of a Polish mother-tongue. This renders her almost unique in English. Only abroad, with those untrustworthy continentals and their borders, could one encounter such mutedly thrilling disquiet. Jastrzębska never needs to play at deracination, or the modish idioms of the possessed. Her work concentrates on the words for things as the things, then the words disappear and turn up again as a fragile light. More, Jastrzębska’s compassion for things as well as people invokes her sense of the sacredness of even ships as carriers of language and relics of a route not taken.

Read review
CHROMA review, 27th March 2010, by Colin Herd

'Dementia drama', Guardian article, Tuesday 22 February 2011 by John O'Donoghue


Maria Jastrzębska was born in Warsaw, Poland and came to England as a child. Previous collections include Syrena (Redbeck Press, 2004) and I’ll Be Back Before You Know It (Pighog Press, 2008). Her poems are much anthologised from The New British Poetry (Paladin), The Virago Book of Wicked Verse, Captured Voices (Indigo), Not For The Academy (Onlywomen Press) to Parents (Enitharmon, 2000), Images of Women (Arrowhead, 2006) Telling Tales About Dementia (Jessica Kingsley, 2009) and See How I Land (Heaventree Press, 2009).

She was co-editor of Forum Polek bilingual women’s anthology, Poetry South (2007) and Whoosh! Queer Writing South anthology (Pighog Press, 2008).

A founder of
Polish artists network, her work has been translated into French, Finnish, Japanese, Polish, Romanian and Slovenian. She lives in Brighton.

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