NEH banner [Return to Query]

Coverage for grant FZ-261512-18

“The Spirit of the Place”: Polish-American Poet Czeslaw Milosz in California
Cynthia Haven,

Grant details:

“A Home in the Neon Heat of Nature”: A New Biography of Czesław Miłosz (Review)
Author(s): Cory Oldweiler
Publication: Los Angeles Review of Books
Date: 11/7/2021

"13 New Books for October" (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Nasim Ghasemiyeh, Jessica Blough, Ajay Orona
Publication: Alta
Date: 9/30/2021

"America When Will You Be Angelic?" (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Cynthia L. Haven
Publication: Notre Dame Church Life Journal
Date: 11/18/2021
Abstract: Chapter 1 of "Czesław Miłosz: A California Life"

"Czesław Miłosz: A California Life" by Cynthia L. Haven: The West Coast's Mythic Allure (Review)
Author(s): Peter Schlachte
Publication: Zyzzyva
Date: 1/4/2022
Abstract: "Czesław Miłosz: A California Life is as much as portrait of a place as it is of a person. [...] When she writes about California, it’s not merely to draw the connection between the land and Miłosz. Rather, Haven takes space to revel in the 'hypnotic monotony' of the weather and the 'alien, hyperreal' rocks along Highway 1. Her language is a place of energy, richness, and—fittingly—poetry."

Czesław Miłosz: A California Life (Review)
Author(s): Unsigned
Publication: Publishers Weekly
Date: 9/17/2021
Abstract: "Much has been written about the poet, and Haven finds new ways into his life [...] and her examinations of the influence of place on his poetry are insightful. Fans of Milosz's work should give this a look."

Prufrock: Books, Arts, Ideas (Review)
Author(s): Micah Mattix
Publication: Spectator World
Date: 11/16/2021
Abstract: The California Life of Czesław Miłosz: “He would live in the Golden State for 40 years, from 1960 to 2000, but according to Czeslaw Miłosz: A California Life, Cynthia Haven’s deeply considered new biography of the poet, Miłosz’s move to America was predicated on a fundamental error. ‘In immigrating to the United States, and specifically to California in 1960,’ Haven writes, ‘he thought he was coming to the timeless world of nature. However, Berkeley was about to become a lightning rod for […] the world of change […] and he would be in the thick of it.’”

"Czesław Miłosz and the Passionate Pursuit of the Real" (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Robert Mixa
Publication: Word on Fire
Date: 2/13/2023
Abstract: "Cynthia [Haven]’s description of Miłosz has helped me better see the reason why I’m so fascinated by the man. His interests and insights line up almost perfectly with the thinkers that have influenced my way of thinking about education. For instance, I have been lately reading the writings of Simone Weil for a piece on the cultivation of attention and the love of all creatures great and small. I just finished her essay 'Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies.' Her concerns seem to line up perfectly with Miłosz’s, and it turns out Miłosz held Weil in great esteem. His definition of poetry has a touch of Weil in it. He defined true poetry as “the passionate pursuit of the Real.” The same definition applies to true education. For this, we have Miłosz as our guide."

"To become a signature voice of a nation, try living in exile in California" (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Joe Mathews
Publication: San Francisco Chronicle
Date: 2/5/2023
Abstract: Opinion piece on "Czesław Miłosz: A California Life": "Want to become a signature voice of your nation? Try a decades-long exile in California. It worked for Czeslaw Milosz, who entered the pantheon of Polish poets thanks to works he wrote mostly in Berkeley."

"California’s greatest poet wrote in Polish — from Berkeley" (Media Coverage)
Publication: San Jose Mercury
Date: 2/4/2023
Abstract: "Want to become a signature voice of your nation? Try a decades-long exile in California. It worked for Czeslaw Milosz, who entered the pantheon of Polish poets thanks to works he wrote mostly in Berkeley."

California's greatest poet wrote in Polish (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Joe Mathews
Publication: Yahoo News
Date: 2/21/2023
Abstract: "The poet’s story — told by scholar Cynthia L. Haven in a thought-provoking book, “Czeslaw Milosz: A California Life” — demonstrates how our state allows people to move both further from and closer to home, often at the same time."

How California Made a Polish Poet Great (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Joe Mathews
Publication: Zócolo Public Square
Date: 2/7/2023
Abstract: Born in Lithuania in 1911 to Polish-speaking gentry, Miłosz pursued a literary career in Warsaw. There he witnessed some of the worst bombing and violence of World War II—an experience that was foundational to his work and worldview. He served as a diplomat for Poland’s Stalinist government, before defecting in Paris in 1951. In 1960, he accepted a teaching post at Berkeley. He would stay for 40 years, living in and writing from a cottage on Grizzly Peak, looking down over the whole Bay Area.

California's Greatest Poet Write in Polish (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Joe Mathews
Publication: 3quarksdaily
Date: 2/21/2023
Abstract: Czeslaw Milosz entered the pantheon of Polish poets thanks to works he wrote mostly in Berkeley.

Chronicle of Higher Education's Arts & Letters Daily (Media Coverage)
Publication: Chronicle of Higher Education's Arts & Letters Daily
Date: 2/21/2023
Abstract: "Czesław Miłosz; A California Life" was selected three times for notice in 2021-2022 by the prestigious Arts & Letters Daily aggregator blog of "The Chronicle of Higher Education" – an honor!

Biographies: History Was Exiled Writer Czeslaw Miłosz’s One True Home (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Carl Rollyson,
Publication: New York Sun
Date: 2/23/2022
Abstract: Ms. Haven grounds this Miłosz pivot between nature and history right into an everyday sense of the way the poet lived, in both solemn and sunny episodes. ... California became more than a refuge. It was a vantage point he took with him when he returned in his final years to Poland. Ms. Haven sums up his bifurcation in two sentences: “The phenomenon we know as Czesław Miłosz *had* to come into being here, had to begin again here so he could fully embrace the world in his time. He had to be here so he could return *there.*”

CITY LIGHTS LIVE ! Cynthia L. Haven in conversation with James Marcus (Media Coverage)
Date: 10/26/2021
Abstract: Onstage conversation with author James Marcus, former editor of Harper's, at San Francisco's legendary "City Lights" bookstore.

"I Did Not Choose California, It Was Given to Me": Cynthia L. Haven on Czesław Miłosz (Media Coverage)
Publication: Poetry London
Date: 3/26/2022
Abstract: Excerpt from Chapter 7 of "Czesław Miłosz: A California Life" with introduction.

Secretary of the Invisible Thing (Review)
Publication: Washington Examiner Magazine
Date: 4/11/2022
Abstract: "A California Life is ultimately a book about relationships. Miłosz with California. Haven with Miłosz. Haven with California. California with the world. However, the sum is greater than the parts of this rich, knotted matrix. Some biographies succeeded by the biographed becoming translucent, by allowing us almost voyeuristic access to the subject. But in A California Life, Haven the biographer herself is intensely present, and necessarily so. When she includes her own experiences with Miłosz or moving to and living in California, it feels less like an intrusive aside and more like a quorum has finally been achieved. This book is less a biography than an occasion for the deepest engagement with art and life. We need more books like this."

Czeslaw Milosz: An "Entitled Opinions" Discussion with Cynthia Haven (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Robert Pogue Harrison
Publication: Entitled Opinions
Date: 5/27/2022
Abstract: Popular radio/podcast series with Stanford Prof. Robert Pogue Harrison, on Apple and Stanford website.

"Miłosz's Magic Mountain: Czesław Miłosz in California (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Joy Neumeyer
Publication: The Baffler
Date: 5/2/2022
Abstract: An essay on Czesław Miłosz's exile that includes a discussion of "Czesław Miłosz: A California Life"

A Year of Reading: 2021 (Media Coverage)
Author(s): John Wilson
Publication: First Things
Date: 12/3/2021
Abstract: "Haven’s book, I say in a forthcoming review, will be 'a boon both to readers who’ve only recently become aware of Miłosz and to those who have been reading him for forty years or more. Unconventional in form—it’s not exactly "a biography," not "literary criticism," though it partakes of both,' it approaches the Nobel Prize-winning poet from an unexpected perspective."

"Six Remarkable Facts About Nobel Laureate Czesław Miłosz: A new book on the famous writer's exile in Berkeley is filled with surprises" (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Ted Gioia
Publication: Ted Gioia: The Honest Broker (Substack)
Date: 12/4/2021
Abstract: "Until recently, I knew less about the exile of Nobel Prize laureate Czesław Miłosz at Berkeley. But the publication of Cynthia Haven’s outstanding new book Czesław Miłosz: A California Life has cut through the enigma of how one of the defining figures in European poetry survived—and perhaps even thrived—amidst the most rebellious and uninhibited center of youth culture in the United States."

Leon Wieseltier (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Leon Wieseltier
Publication: Amazon website, and other publicity
Date: 12/28/2021
Abstract: "Cynthia Haven's book is delicious. She evokes so much so vividly and so intelligently; for me her pages were a restoration of a richer and less lonely time. And her intuition is right: Czeslaw Milosz and California are indeed a chapter in each other's history." — Leon Wieseltier Personal correspondence to the publisher, which he allowed to be used for publicity purposes. It is now on Amazon and other websites.

"Berkeleyside's Favorite Books of 2021" (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Frances Dinkelspiel
Publication: Berkeleyside
Date: 12/29/2021
Abstract: Top books of 2021

"Poet at the End of the World" (Review)
Author(s): John Wilson
Publication: The American Conservative
Date: 1/28/2022
Abstract: "Cynthia Haven's 'Czesław Miłosz: A California Life' will be a boon to those who've only recently become aware of Miłosz and to those who have been reading him for forty years or more. ... Though Haven's chronicle is short, it has something of the ever-shifting, all-inclusive generosity of Boswell's 'Life of Johnson.'"

Episode 218: The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz (Media Coverage)
Publication: National Review
Date: 3/8/2022
Abstract: John Miller's "Great Books" series of podcast focused on "The Captive Mind," and also "Czesław Miłosz: A California Life"