Born in a refugee camp after World War II, John Guzlowski came with his family to the United States as a Displaced Person in 1951. His parents had been Polish slave laborers in Nazi Germany. Growing up in the immigrant and refugee neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, he met hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead comrades, and women who had walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians. His poetry, fiction, and essays try to remember them and their voices.
He is the author of four books of poems about his parents’ experiences in Nazi Germany. His most recent book about them is Echoes of Tattered Tongues: Memory Unfolded (Aquila Polonica). This memoir in poems and prose won the Benjamin Franklin Poetry Award and the Eric Hoffer Montaigne Award for most thought-provoking work of 2017.
Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, reviewing Language of Mules, one of Guzlowski’s earlier books about his parents, said, “This volume astonished me.”
A Professor Emeritus at Eastern Illinois University, John Guzlowski currently lives in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he recently completed a novel about the German soldiers who murdered his mother’s family during the Second World War. This novel, Road of Bones, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press.
Garrison Keillor read Guzlowski’s poem “What My Father Believed” on his program, The Writers Almanac. Guzlowski’s other poems and stories have appeared in such national journals as Rattle, North American Review, Ontario Review, Atticus Review, Crab Orchard Review, and in the anthology Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust.
Dr. Guzlowski’s critical essays on contemporary American, Polish, and Jewish authors can be the found in such journals as Modern Fiction Studies, Polish Review, Shofar, Polish American Studies, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, and Studies in Jewish American Literature.
Guzlowski has done presentations about his parents and their experiences at the European Union in Washington, DC, the Polish Embassy in DC, Yale University, Georgetown Univ., The Polish Museum of America, The Polish Mission at Orchard Lake, Michigan, the American Univ., and various other universities and colleges here and abroad. A video of his presentation at The Piast Institute in Hamtramck, Michigan is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYI7vH3xXz4
Along with his recent Eric Hoffer award and Ben Franklin Poetry award, John Guzlowski has received the Polish American Historical Association Creative Arts Award, American Council for Polish Culture’s Cultural Achievement Award, and the Illinois Arts Council’s $7500 Award for Poetry. He has also been short-listed for the Bakeless Award and nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize and five Pushcart Prizes.