the possibilities project

In Wisława Szymborska’s poem ‘Possibilities’, translated from Polish by Stanisław Barańczak and Claire Cavanagh, the winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature writes about what she prefers – as an individual and in the world.

I prefer movies.

I prefer cats.

I prefer the oaks along the Warta.

I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.

I prefer myself liking people to myself loving mankind … 

I wrote my own ‘possibilities’ poem while on residency at Villa Decius in Krakow UNESCO City of Literature in 2019. And then in 2020 during lockdowns in Aotearoa New Zealand I collaborated with Ōtepoti Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature on the Possibilities Project, where we sent out an open call for people to write their own responses to Wisława Szymborska’s ‘Possibilities’. Writers from Budapest to Canada to Ulyanovsk to Vancouver to Wonju replied, and the result is a celebration and an archive of our considered possibilities at the time.

You can view the possibilities project poems here