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Polish poet awarded Nobel Prize in literature

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden (CNN) -- Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska was named winner of the Nobel Prize for literature October 3. She was cited for her "poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality."


Szymborska, 73, has also published book reviews and translations of French poetry. She lives in the Polish city of Krakow.

"I am very happy, stunned and frightened," she said on nationwide Radio Zet. "I'm afraid I will not have a quiet life now. It is hard to believe but I was never hoping for an award."

Tadeusz Nyczek, a writer and literary critic, told the Zycie daily that Szymborska was "Poland's best female poet since the war."


In its citation announcing the winner, the Swedish Academy said, "The stylistic variety in her poetry makes it extremely difficult to translate, but there nevertheless exist a number of works in other languages so that the major part of her poetry is accessible to a wider readership."

The academy also said that Szymborska had disclaimed the work with which she made her debut in 1952 and its successor in 1954, both attempts to conform to social realism at a time when communist censorship held sway over Poland.

The literature prize was the first of this year's Nobel honors to be announced, and it is the richest in the prestigious award's history: 7.4 million kronor, or $1.1 million.

Selection defies critics

The Swedish Academy keeps its deliberations secret and does not say who was nominated for the prize. Informal surveys of critics and publishers turned up a score of names that were believed to have been nominees.

Exiled Chinese poet Bei Dao was high on many predictors' lists this year. Others had expected a novelist to win because Irish poet Seamus Heaney claimed last year's prize.

The academy stood by its selection. "With her distance and commitment, Szymborska accords full support to her idea that no questions are of such significance as those that are naive."

To highlight Szymborska's art, the academy quoted the last stanza from her 1980 poem, "Nothing Twice," which translated into English reads:

"With smiles and kisses, we prefer to seek accord beneath our star, although we're different (we concur) just as two drops of water are."

Nobel Special Section

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