Czeslaw Milosz: Made in America

June 30, 2011 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of Polish poet Czesław Miłosz (1911-2004). The Nobel-prize winner had close ties to the University of Michigan, where his first major collection of poetry, Utwory poetyckie, was published in 1976 by Michigan Slavic Publications, and where he received an honorary doctorate in 1977. Two weeks after winning the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature he returned to Michigan to lecture, becoming the Visiting Walgreen Professor of Human Understanding in 1983, and a frequent visitor to the campus until his final Copernicus Lecture and poetry reading in 1993.

This tribute to Czesław Miłosz on the centenary of his birth is sponsored by the Copernicus Endowment, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and the Zell Visiting Writers Series, all at the University of Michigan. The timeline was prepared by Nicole Rivett Howeson.

1911-06-30 16:36:08

Miłosz born

Miłosz born to Polish parents on June 30, 1911 in the village of Szetejnie (Šeteniai), in central Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire.

1921-06-01 00:00:00

Moves to Wilno

CM moves with his family to Wilno (Vilnius) in 1921. Attends Zygmunt August School during the years 1921-1929, followed by Stefan Batory University.

1931-04-01 00:00:00

Literary Circle formed

In April 1931 CM co-founds the Polish avant-garde literary group “Żagary” (a polonized Lithuanian word meaning “Brushwood”).

1933-06-01 00:00:00

'Poemat o czasie zastygłym' published

In 1933, Miłosz published his first volume of poetry, 'Poemat o czasie zastygłym' ('Poem of the Frozen Time)

1934-06-01 00:00:00

Moves to Paris

CM completes law studies and leaves for Paris.

1946-01-09 00:00:00

Begins Diplomatic Career; travels to U.s.

CM becomes a diplomatic attaché for the newly-formed People's Republic of Poland. From 1946-1950, he works in New York and Washington.

1950-12-01 00:00:00


Political tensions cause authorities to strip CM of his passport upon his return to Poland in 1950.

1951-02-08 00:00:00

Return to Paris

CM is allowed to transfer to Paris, where he turns to literary circles. His life in exile has begun.

1953-07-01 00:00:00

'The Captive Mind' Published

'Zniewolony umysl' (essays), published by the Instytut Literacki (Paris, France). Translation by Jane Zielonko published as 'The Captive Mind,' Knopf (New York, NY), 1953, reprinted, Octagon (New York, NY), 1981.

1960-09-01 00:00:00

Begins Teaching at Berkeley

CM joins the faculty at the University of California-Berkeley

1976-08-23 00:00:00

'Utwory Poetyckie' published

Utwory Poetyckie (Selected Poems) is published by Michigan Slavic Publications

1976-12-17 00:00:00

U-M Lecture: "A Poet Between East and West"

Lecture “A Poet Between East and West.” Miłosz inscribes copies of the book at the reception following the lecture.

1977-04-30 00:00:00

Honorary Doctorate from University of Michigan

Miłosz receives honorary doctorate from University of Michigan

1978-06-01 00:00:00

Neustadt International Prize for Literature

When Joseph Brodsky presented CM with the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1978, he said, ''I have no hesitation whatsoever in stating that Czesław Miłosz in one of the greatest poets of our time, perhaps the greatest.''

1980-10-09 00:00:00

Wins Nobel Prize for Literature

Miłosz wins Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980.

1981-01-12 00:00:00

U-M Lecture on the Poetry of Central Europe

Lecture “Looking for a Center: On the Poetry of Central Europe.”

1981-01-13 00:00:00

U-M Poetry Reading

Poetry Reading “An Evening of Polish Poetry.”

1981-06-12 07:07:04

Visit to Poland

During the briefly legalized existence of Solidarity, Miłosz returns to Poland for the first time since 1950, and volumes of his poetry are subsequently published there. During his two-week visit, he receives an honorary degree from Lublin Catholic University, with Lech Walesa present.

1981-08-23 09:18:08

'Pieśń Niepodległa' published

'Pieśń Niepodległa' –('The Invincible Song'), a clandestine anthology of Polish WWII poetry is reprinted by Michigan Slavic Publications

1982-08-23 09:18:08

'Hymn o Perle' published

'Hymn o Perle' is published by Michigan Slavic Publications.

1982-10-01 00:00:00

U-M Copernicus Lecture

Copernicus Lecture, with Stanisław Barańczak “Two Centuries of Emigré Literature.”

1983-01-01 00:00:00

U-M Visiting Professor, Winter Term 1983

Comes to U-M as Visiting Walgreen Professor of Human Understanding. Teaches courses on Dostoevsky and Polish poetry.

1985-01-01 00:00:00

U-M Minicourse

Miłosz teaches mini-course on Polish poetry

1985-04-06 00:00:00

U-M Copernicus Lecture

Copernicus Lecture “Post-Marxist Central Europe: The Struggle for Cultural Survival.” With Josef Brodsky, Stanisław Barańczak, Josef Škvorecký

1993-10-29 00:00:00

U-M Copernicus Lecture

Final Copernicus Lecture, “Czesław Miłosz Reads from His Poetry.”

1994-04-25 17:23:51

Establishes Residence in Krakow

CM begins dividing his time between his home in California and a new residence in Krakow.

1997-03-12 00:00:00

Library of Congress Event

"An Evening with Czeslaw Milosz" at the Library of Congress. Robert Hass introduces.

2004-08-14 00:00:00

Miłosz Dies

Miłosz dies in Krakow at age 93. NYT Obituary by Raymond H. Anderson:

2011-09-22 06:53:27

Miłosz: Made in America

Annual Copernicus Lecture in the Zell Visiting Writers Series, featuring a screening of the film, "The Magic Mountain: An American Portrait of Czesław Miłosz," directed by Maria Zmarz-Koczanowicz, and a conversation with Robert Hass, Robert Pinsky, Lillian Vallée, Bogdana Carpenter, and Benjamin Paloff.

Czeslaw Milosz: Made in America

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