How California Made a Polish Poet Great

Exiled to Berkeley, Czesław Miłosz Explored the Margins of Alienation, the Horrors of His Past, and Visions of the Future

Want to become a signature voice of your troubled nation? Perhaps you need a decades-long exile in California.

It worked for Czesław Miłosz, who entered the pantheon of Polish poets thanks to works he wrote mostly in Berkeley.

The poet’s story—told by humanities scholar Cynthia L. Haven in a surprising and thought-provoking recent book, Czesław Miłosz: A California Life—reminds us how our state allows people to move both further from and closer to home, often at the same time.

Miłosz, while famous in Poland and in poetry circles (Joseph Brodsky called him the …

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How the 2003 Recall Created Today’s Republic of California

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The causes of death were two chronic California diseases—greed …