Nobel Prize in Literature, 1996
She was born on July 2, 1923 in Kórnik (Poland), but lived most of her life in Krakow. In 1941, during the Nazi occupation, she finished her secondary studies clandestinely and, to avoid forced labor in Germany, she worked as an office worker on the railway.
In March 1945, she published her first poem, Looking for words. She studied Polish Philology and Sociology at the Jagellonica University. In 1948 she married Adam Wlodek, with whom she had joined the Polish United Workers' Party and from whom she separated in 1954.
She directed the poetic section of the magazine Literary Life. In 1966 she left the communist militancy, and consequently she was expelled from the magazine: I do not think those years were totally lost. They gave me resistance to any kind of doctrine that exempts people from the obligation to think for themselves.
She maintained an important relationship with the poet and novelist Kornel Filipowicz, who died in 1990. She poured all her grief into her famous poem Cat in an empty apartment.
She received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996. In her acceptance speech of the prestigious award, she emphasized two key words in her life: “I don’t know”.
She died at 88 years old, on February 1, 2012, at her home in Krakow. On the day of her funeral, the trumpeter of the cathedral instead of playing the usual Hejnał Mariacki, performed the melody of one of her most famous poems, Nothing twice:
Even if there is no one dumber, / if you're the planet's biggest dunce, / you can't repeat the class in summer / this course is only offered once. No day copies yesterday,/ no two nights will teach what bliss is / in precisely the same way, / with precisely the same kisses…At her funeral, the voice of her much admired Ella Fitzgerald, to whom she had dedicated the poem Ella in heaven, sounded