Stefan Kielbasiewicz

Chosen by Andrew McMillan as winner of The New Poets Prize 2016/17.


Stefan Kielbasiewicz is a poet and translator living in Warsaw. In 2017 he graduated with an MA in Creative Writing Poetry at Royal Holloway. He has been shortlisted for the Jane Martin Poetry Prize in 2014 and the PEN International New Voices Award in 2016. His work has been published in The North, Introduction X: The Poetry Business Book of New Poets, and Ink, Sweat and Tears.


Poems in conversation with other languages, with other poets (I'm a sucker for a Ginsberg reference) and with other art forms (I'm also a sucker for an Athur Miller reference!); this pamphlet looks at uncomfortable childhood memories and the current geopolitical situation with, in equal parts, a mature and unflinching eye. — Andrew McMillan

Stealing Shadow is a diverse and multifaceted collection, from poems that both reside in and reinvent childhood, to work that indulges in political satire, nonsense, sexuality, multilingualism and experiments in utopian ideals. With references ranging from Ginsberg, Miller, and Tarkovsky, Stealing Shadow is full of unconventional premises, surprising moments, and a passion for discovery that veers from seriousness to play.

of a Salesman


He dies while crossing the stage

towards his apartment building.

The curtain rises.

The salesman’s wife stands over him,

“Well, you’ll just have to take a rest,

you can’t continue this way,” she sighs.


The salesman dies in an eight-story fall

after admiring the sea-view from his balcony.

He runs a bath to soothe his aching back.

He dies the next morning, standing

with his feet in the sea-water, his skin

calcifies into a coral statue.

Dreams settle in salt behind his ears

and on his eyelids.

His salary.

A salesman always trades

in hope, a brighter future.


The salesman dies after a successful

triple bypass. They served him steak au poivre

and a glass of red wine.

His wife visits him: “You don’t look

too well. Have you been eating properly?”

She leaves a plate of sliced apples,

cheese and dried dates on the pillow.


What goes through a man’s mind, driving

seven hundred miles without having earned a cent?

The death of a man’s mind.

The death of a living.

He sells what a salesman has to sell,



At his funeral the salesman tells his family:

“Things are looking very promising, I’m closing a deal

any day now.”

He is a performer, a confidence man

who must never lack confidence.

We each sprinkle a handful of soil

with pistachios.

“Your father looks young,” his wife

reminds her son, “but so do I.”


The salesman dies many times:

the forest ranger, the cellist, the entrepreneur,

the dreamer.

He has placed his faith in the future

while being haunted by the past.

of man’s mind.

of living.

The music crashes down

and the salesman becomes

the soft pulsation of a single

cello string

that keeps us all alive. 

Titles by this author

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