Nobel Prize-Winning Polish Poet Wislawa Szymborska Dead at 88

Wislawa Szymborska, the 1996 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, died Wednesday at her home in Krakow, Poland, from lung cancer. She published fewer than 400 poems in her lifetime and was known as a recluse despite being Poland's most famous poet. Her verse was loved for its simplicity and sense of humor and often used everyday objects such as a cat or an onion "to reflect on grand topics such as love, death and passing time."

She was only the ninth woman to win the literary honor and, true to her self-deprecating personality, used her Nobel lecture to reflect on the difficulty of making interesting movies about writers:

Films about painters can be spectacular, as they go about recreating every stage of a famous painting's evolution, from the first penciled line to the final brush-stroke. Music swells in films about composers: the first bars of the melody that rings in the musician's ears finally emerge as a mature work in symphonic form. Of course this is all quite naive and doesn't explain the strange mental state popularly known as inspiration, but at least there's something to look at and listen to.

But poets are the worst. Their work is hopelessly unphotogenic. Someone sits at a table or lies on a sofa while staring motionless at a wall or ceiling. Once in a while this person writes down seven lines only to cross out one of them fifteen minutes later, and then another hour passes, during which nothing happens ... Who could stand to watch this kind of thing?

[Image via AP]