I’m Alicja Maria Kuberska, an award winning poetess, novelist, journalist, and editor. I was born in 1960, in Świebodzin, Poland, and now live in Inowrocław, Poland. I do not have pets at my home. I live in an apartment, so they would be unhappy. I think that every prisoner is unhappy. An animal means great responsibility for me. I travel a lot too. The next problem is with my age. Maybe the fragment of the poem written by Wisława Szymborska will explain my attitude:
A Cat in an Empty Apartment
Die? One does not do that to a cat.
Because what's a cat to do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the walls.
Caress against the furniture.
It seems that nothing has changed here,
but yet things are different.
Nothing appears to have been relocated,
yet everything has been shuffled about.
The lamp no longer burns in the evenings.
Footsteps can be heard on the stairway,
but they're not the ones.
The hand which puts the fish on the platter
is not the same one which used to do it.
Something here does not begin
at its usual time.
Something does not happen quite
as it should
Here someone was and was,
then suddenly disappeared
and now is stubbornly absent.
In 2011 I published my first volume of poems, entitled, “The Glass Reality.” My second volume, “ Analysis of Feelings,” was published in 2012. "Moments," my third collection, in English, was published in 2014, both in Poland and in the USA. In 2014, I also published a novel - “ Virtual Roses” - and another volume of poems, “ On the Border of a Dream.” The next year my volume, “Girl in the Mirror,” was published in the UK and “ Love me” and “ (Not) my poem” in the USA. In 2015 I also edited an anthology entitled “The Other Side of the Screen." In 2016 I edited two volumes: “ Taste of Love” (USA) and “Thief of Dreams” (Poland) and an anthology entitled, “ Love is Like Air.” My poems have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines in Poland, the USA, the UK, Belgium, Israel, Canada, India, Italy, and Australia. I am a member of the Polish Writers Associations in Warsaw, Poland.
DV: How did you become interested in poetry, both as a reader and a writer?
AK: Everyone can be a poet. We can all observe this volcano of emotions when people fall in love. I never expected to be a poetess. In the past I was more interested in my everyday life and career as a worker at a bank. But a big disappointment caused poems to start to flow through my mind like a river of words. My poems were once just my dreams, but now poetry is a part of me. Reading is the best workshop. I like to read poems, especially by the best poets of the world. I learn a lot from them though I have my own style now.
AK: I am Polish, so I learned from Polish poets. I like very much poems of Wisława Szymborska. She won the Nobel Prize in literature. I appreciate also poems of Maria Jasnorzewska-Pawlikowska and Małgorzta Hilar. I studied also poems of our famous poets from the past. I read a lot of poems of the contemporary writers and sometimes they are my inspiration too.
DV: But why do you write English poetry?
AK: I know very few foreigners who can speak Polish. It is very difficult language. One word - I had no choice. It means more work for me. I write my poems in Polish and later I translate them into English. It is a kind of my "to be or not to be."
DV: Do you write for Polish audiences too?
AK: I am Polish so I write for Polish audience too. I write not only poetry but prose and monodramas as well. Sometimes I am a journalist and I write interviews for Polish magazines.
DV: Is there any difference in the way you approach the writing of these genres? Can you tell us your process of writing a poem?
AK: Novels and poems should be written in different ways. A good poem contains a novel in a few stanzas. The means of expression and principles are different too. There are no doubts that a novelist must write more than a poet. My process of writing poems looks like that: I write a poem and I “freeze“ it. That means - I write it in my computer and I forget about it. I return to my poem in a few days or months. I think I have to be more censorial. I read and correct it many times. It is easy to guess that I do not write many poems. In my opinion quality is more important than quantity in literature.
DV: Then, I guess you're saying it's the difference between a sprint and a marathon. They both have their satisfactions and frustrations. As a writer, between prose and poetry, do you prefer one over the other?
AK: I prefer poetry to prose. It takes me less time and I am an awarded poetess. It is always a big pleasure to receive news that I gained a reward.
DV: What awards have you won? Are you prouder for one of them than the others, not so much because of the award itself but because of why you won it (the piece that garnered it)?
AK: I have won a few statues and one medal. I am proud of a statue from Lithuania because I received it for my charity work too. I and my two friends collected 9 tons of books for the Polish libraries in this country. We did everything ourselves and we did not collect money as we were private persons. Our activity was based on the good will of many people. People offered us their books and the lorry drivers transported them for free. I am happy I helped the pupils receive these books. They can read modern literature now.
DV: Nine tons! That's a weighty endeavor, indeed! How long did it take to gather the books?
AK: It lasted about three months. My friend allowed me to change her room into a storeroom (she has got a big house, I am living in a small flat). I packed and carried by myself about three tons. I had to finish this action because my backbone started to ache. I often forget I am not a teenager.
DV: I think personal creativity helps keep us young, at least mentally if not physically. Although, obviously, there are a lot of artists who die extraordinarily young. Maybe art keeps us young if we can survive the initial art process? Do you have any thoughts about this, based on your own experience? Has poetry ever affirmed your own life?
AK: It is true that many artists died very young. I started to write as a mature person, so I avoided many traps. I know what is important in my life. The properly classified values are very important for me. I will never have “soda water” in my mind. Art gives me pleasure of creating. It also allows me to meet new, fascinating people. For example – I and Mr Joosung Kim (professor of art from South Korea) created posters fighting against GMO. Poetry is something more than a hobby - just a part of my perception of the world. It is very hard to explain. One word – poetry is a significant element of my everyday existence. One of my friends calls me “ Mrs Poetry.” It is very funny but very nice too.
DV: Do you write every day?
AK: No, it would be senseless. I write when I want to tell something important to my future readers. Volume is not a diary. Personally I do not like poems about “nothing” or those which are miserable copies.
DV: A couple of times you alluded to your late start as a writer. Could you please go into more detail about what inhibited you as a younger person, as well as what finally happened to spur you into writing?
AK: As a young person I was interested in business. I was a chief in a bank department. This occupation required a lot of time and effort. I was a very busy person in this period of my life. I changed my attitude when I realized that my life is too short to devote it to this career. Writing gives me pleasure. It is my passion.
DV: In one of Szymborska's poems she wrote, " I prefer the absurdity of writing poems / to the absurdity of not writing poems." That seems to summarize your attitude too. Did it take you long to be published?
AK: In 2011 I showed my poems to Mrs Barbara Mazurkiewicz, the famous Polish poetess. She found them interesting and she arranged everything. Mr Kazimierz Linda (also a poet and a big friend of beginners) published them. Now I can help young poets. I pay my debt back.
DV: Well, I can say truly that I'm in your debt for the poems you've let me share and for your forthright answers to my perhaps impudent questions. Thank you.