Jakob Ziguras

Portrait Jakob Ziguras
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Jakob Ziguras was born in Wrocław to Polish and Greek parents in 1977 and moved to Australia in 1984. After originally studying art, he switched to philosophy and received his degree from the University of Sydney.

His poetry was initially published in Australian and international periodicals. His first volume of poetry »Chains of Snow« (2013) was shortlisted for the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Award; two years later Ziguras published »The Sepia Carousel« (2016). The range of themes addressed in Ziguras’ poetry is vast: from the visions of the young pharaoh Akhenaten, the gaze of Orpheus upon Eurydice and Aristotle’s deathbed to the landscapes of Poland and elsewhere. Evidenced by his bold use of rhyme and meter, Ziguras constructs his poetry with dynamism; he writes in blank verse, in weakly rhyming forms that align with his themes, and sometimes even forgoes metrical or tonal ligatures. His evocative imagery is interspersed with the certainty of mortality, a subliminal feeling of injustice and the hope of renewal. After having translated an essay by Adam Zagajewski on the Polish poet Stanisław Barańczak (1946–2014), one of the most important representatives of the Nowa Fala (New Wave) of the 1960s, Ziguras wrote his cycle »Snow Like Wool, Frost Like Ashes«, which he dedicated to Barańczak. The poems were a product of this engagement with his mother tongue as well as with his task of translating this expressive text and the poetic and philosophical problems inherent to translation itself; the poems were then broadcast over the radio as part of the poetry project »Rhyming the Dead«. In approaching the project Ziguras saw »a commerce with the dead that is, in its own way, a model of translation. I am reminded here of Walter Benjamin’s conception of translation as the afterlife of the original. Is our relation to the dead – or to a text, after the actual death of the author – one in which some saving remnant is retained and borne across the river of forgetfulness?«

Ziguras’ poetry has also been published in a series of anthologies, including »Contemporary Australian Poetry« (2016), »The Best Australian Poems« (2014/2015) and »Incroci di poesia contemporanea 2010–2015« (2015). In 2013 he won the David Harold Tribe Poetry Award and in 2011 the Harri Jones Memorial Prize. In 2016 he was writer in residence at the Château de Lavigny. He subsequently resided in the city of his birth, Wrocław, where he worked on his third book, »Venetian Mirrors«, as well as translations of texts by a diverse set of Polish poets. The author lives in Wrocław.