Jacek Łukasiewicz: Seasons / 7
Autobiographical prose by an esteemed poet, literary critic and historian of literature, who deals with the interpretations of the 20th and 21st century poetry and is interested in its sociological and political contexts. Four consecutive seasons constitute the structural axis of the text. The protagonist – like everyone else – already at his birth was unexpectedly thrown into the rhythm of the seasons. Trying to follow their flow, he recreates the events etched deeply in his memory, especially those from early childhood or even infancy, boyhood and youth as a man making his first steps on the threshold of the adult life. These include Easter rites, haymaking, holidays spent away from home – at the harsh priest’s rectory, his first lone trips, juvenile erotic experience, secretly read books, early literary efforts, and, characteristic of the Advent – and of life in general – the feeling of anticipation. The most powerful medium of these memories are sensations. Memory, though personal, turns out to be independent. It is something that unites, but also divides the protagonist from the man of the past. The passage of time fosters the change of perspective: the unknown, which used to be his destination to be reached by surpassing the farthest end of his world, later becomes a place from which he returns to his own, well-known world. The dates of successive birthdays remind him that the time of human life is deceptively circular, and in reality runs linearly right from the moment you are born until you die.
Аntanas A. Jonynas: Poems / 23
Wojciech Ligęza: “Our People Cannot Speak to Each Other.” Strangeness and Closeness in the Poetry of Wisława Szymborska / 27
A man in the poetry of Wisława Szymborska remains torn between the desire for intimacy with another person and the need to experience himself as a single and sovereign existence. Numerous antithetical juxtapositions – mythical eternity of love vs. its actual fragility, randomness of emotion vs. belief in its transcendent meaning, desire to give yourself to your loved one vs. subordination of a partner characteristic of a romantic relationship, sincerity and emotional elation vs. their theatricality – all of these opposites point toward the entanglement in all sorts of symbolic constructs. Szymborska rejects these schemes, offering no easy or unilateral solutions. Irony and parody, mocking apparent truths and designing virtual scenarios, balancing on the edge of banality and tragedy – all of these modes serve as the illustration for the reality experienced by lovers. Being aware of the weakness of conventionalized language of love, Szymborska never resigns from expressing the whole truth about interpersonal relationships – in all their complexity and ambiguity.
Vladas Braziūnas: Poems / 38
Andrzej Chodacki: Stories / 41
Our Daily Bread is the story of the Polish exiles’ journey to “inhuman land” (far into the Soviet empire), presenting a brief flash of their tragic life and fate marked by suffering. The trains pulling cattle cars, which were carrying the exiled to Siberia, had frequent stops. Then the trains would suddenly move without any prior notice, often leaving behind the people who were looking for food out in the fields in the middle of nowhere. This was one of the methods of the exterminating the Polish population before they were doomed to die in severe winter conditions in the settlements without food and a roof over their heads. The transported exiles quickly ran out of food stocks, and, as a result, died of starvation, cold and disease. Three Days in The Life of Free People features three episodes related to the history of the Poles fighting against the Bolshevik invasion in 1920. The first story takes place in the field hospital nearby Radzymin. The medical personnel does not realize how little it would take at that time to flood Warsaw with a brutal wave of Russian soldiers. The hospital staff are trying to comfort and support each other, but they have no influence on the course of events. The ruthlessness and the cruelty of the Bolsheviks were experienced by the protagonists of the second story – the defenders of Lviv who fought in Zadwórze, where a small branch of the Polish Army stopped the Russian forces led by Budionny. The Poles paid a huge price. The third story paints a grim picture of the camp for the Soviet prisoners of war in Strzałków, which represents a tragic ultimate struggle with a mortal menace at eastern borders of Poland.
Karolina Wawer: Poems / 47
Jerzy Bartmiński: “Let the Law Mean Law, and Justice – Justice” / 50
The speech from February 21, 2016, during the ceremony of awarding Professor Jerzy Bartmiński with the Medal of Merit to Polish Language by Andrzej Duda, the President of the Republic of Poland. Thanking for the award, Bartmiński highlights the factors degrading the Polish language at present time. The problem lies not only in the diminishing position of the Polish language (primarily due to pervasive dominance of English), but also in the separation of language from values, the degeneration of public discourse and the dissemination of the so-called “hate speech” phenomenon.
Miłosz Waligórski: Poems / 52
Piotr Sendecki: Biennale Arte 2015. A Venetian Notepad / 55
A detailed report from the author’s stay in Venice during the Biennale of Contemporary Art in 2015. Sendecki describes the works of art by the international artists, noting, among others, the works by Martial Raysse (France), Cy Twombly (USA), Sean Scully (an Irishman living in the US), Jaanus Sammy (Estonia), Ivan Grubanow (Serbia), C.T. Jasper and Joanna Malinowska (Poland), Céleste Boursier-Mougenot (France), Chiharu Shioto (Japan), Alexander Calder (USA), Emilio Vedova (Italy) and Georg Baselitz (Germany). In the background Sendecki describes the outstanding Venetian galleries and museums (eg. Ca’Pesaro, Palazzo Grassi, Punta della Dogana, Arsenale, Palazzo Falier, Museo Correr, Peggy Guggenheim museum, Dorothea van der Koelen gallery). The narrative is enriched with the recollections of the previous Bienniale editions and numerous digressions, such as the story of the author’s encounter with the German artist Lora Bert or the sources of inspiration for one of the novels by Gustaw Herling-Grudziński.
Tomasz Ososiński: Miniatures / 70
Ten very concise miniatures with only a few sentences of prose, which can also be considered as poetic reflections. Their author – poet and translator of German and Latin literature, Assistant Professor in the Department of Old Prints at the National Library and Warsaw School of Applied Linguistics – through suggestive presentation of aptly chosen details articulates the contents of universal character. They concern, among others, nature, passing, childhood, seasons and related cyclical nature of life. One of the greatest values of Ososiński’s prose is his unconstrained imagination.
Jan Klimecki: Carabiner / 72
As a young boy, grandfather Władysław fought in the First World War. When he returned home to Stary Sącz, he did not give back his rifle. He grew up, got married and taught his son to handle weapons. Some years later Władysław took his rifle to the Second World War. In Romania, he was jailed and disarmed, but he never stopped fighting. He joined the Polish Army in France. His son Stanisław inherited his father’s passion for shooting. He was given a similar copy of the rifle, which cost him a lot of trouble. After some years, Stanisław’s son unexpectedly inherited this already historic gear of a rifleman. However, he was concerned that the rifle would prove to be a troublesome keepsake for his son, Władysław’s great grandson.
Bogdan Nowicki: Poems / 76
Jarosław Cymerman: Cyrano’s Nose. Józef Łobodowski’s Youth Encounter with the Theater / 79
A sketch about Józef Łobodowski’s connections with the theater. The future poet’s first contacts with theatrical art took place as early as adolescence, when as a director and actor of the school theater he was involved in staging Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, Juliusz Słowacki’s Mazepa and Aleksander Fredro’s Ladies and Hussars. The young artist demonstrated impressive knowledge of global trends in theatrical art and independence of judgment. According to the author of the sketch, thanks to Łobodowski’s early-years’ experience, he could convincingly build his image and gain success in various initiatives in his later career.
Marcin Jurzysta: Poems / 84
Karol Mroziński: Stories / 87
Seven short texts by a young writer from Warsaw, the author of a collection of short stories Razzmatazz (2015) and a volume of poetry Pornostalgy (2016). In terms of fiction, the stories resemble anecdotes featuring one scene or situation. The author’s favourite modes of expression are: irony, grotesque, absurd humor and strong, vulgar vocabulary. Some stories can be read as a sarcastic commentary on current events, including political situation, and aberrant fashions or trends. The protagonists constitute a menagerie of freaks and curiosities. We may find a nonchalant poet And, a talking, malicious dog Gołota, articulate horse Daniił, characters known from the television screens depicted in caricature light, and even possessive, smart toothbrush. Yet the main character is the narrator, Karol Mroziński. His exposition of narcissism makes it in fact a great object of mockery.
Iwona Gralewicz-Wolny: Lublin. Poetry and Place [„Pięć wieków poezji o Lublinie. Antologia” (“Five Centuries of Poetry of Lublin. Anthology”)]; Małgorzata Rygielska: Various Collusions [Bogusława Latawiec „Zmowy” (“Collusions”)]; Iwona Gralewicz-Wolny: “They Are on their Way” [„Konstelacja Toposu. Antologia poezji” (“Constellation of Topos. Anthology of Poetry”)]; Paweł Mackiewicz: To Leave the House [Ryszard Krynicki „Wiersze wybrane” (“Selected Poems”)]; Waldemar Michalski: Faithfulness to Destiny [Elżbieta Cichla-Czarniawska „zaproszenie / приглашение”; „bliżej milczenia” (“invitation / приглашение”; “closer to silence”)] / 95
Discussions of the latest books of poems written by literary scholars and critics. They contain detailed analyses and characterize the most popular contemporary currents and literary phenomena.
Adam Kalbarczyk and Dariusz Nowacki on the volume of short frontier stories Listy i powietrze (Letters and Air) by Vasyl Makhno / 115
Juxtaposition of two literary critiques devoted to a selected book (poetry, epic or analytical) published recently. The clash of different points of view and personal judgments emphasize the multidimensionality of the volume and initiate a discussion about its meaning and value.
Lechosław Lameński: Ceramics, Metal, Epoxy, Sisal and Paper Mâché in the Works of a Sculptor Wojciech Mendzelewski / 121
An article dedicated to the Lublin artist Wojciech Mendzelewski. Currently, he works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sculpture and Glass-Making Techniques at the Institute of Fine Arts in the UMCS (MCSU) Faculty of Arts. His favourite mode of expression is chamber sculpture of which he has created the whole series of works, but he does not shun outdoor and monument sculpture either. His sculptures emerge from nature – they appear in all their fullness only when the shaped object is set in its ultimate location. Mendzelewski does not try to imitate nature or recreate its processes. He only extracts certain elements, interprets them and combines them in original formal arrangements. He wants to express the universal truth of the continuity of existence. In addition to traditional materials – plaster, wood, stone or bronze – he also uses much more modern ones – polyesters and epoxy resins. Their scale of expression possibilities (in terms of shaping the form in space, its texture and color) is much larger and more flexible. The author devotes considerable attention to Mendzelewski’s four major cycles: Artefakty (Artifacts), Uobecnienie (Presence), Kratofanie and Pola niepamięci (Fields of Oblivion).
István Kovács: Statesman or Deserter? The 130th Anniversary of the Birth of Edward Rydz-Śmigły / 127
Prof. István Kovács – poet, novelist, essayist, translator, historian and diplomat (Consul General of the Republic of Hungary in Kraków), author of monographs about the participation of Poles in the Hungarian Spring of Nations, and about Józef Bem – presents the figure of Edward Rydz-Śmigły. Kovács follows the course of his military and political career since the outbreak of World War I and offers a detailed analysis of his decisions, actions, errors and omissions as the Inspector General and Supreme Commander of the Polish Army in the years preceding the outbreak of World War II, during the September defense, and after the defeat of the Polish army and escape of the military and civilian authorities to Romania, where Rydz-Śmigły was interned. He fled the arrest to Hungary, from where he returned to German-occupied Poland to join the resistance movement. He was not able to take part in underground struggle as he died of a heart attack. Taking all these facts into consideration, Kovács puts forward some possible answers to the questions posed by historians already in the 1980s: was Rydz-Śmigły the main responsible for the September defeat? Does he take all the blame for the incompetence of the army headquarters, the government and the president? Or perhaps he was a scapegoat? Or maybe it was his great opponent, General Władysław Sikorski, and his men who formed and fixed in the collective memory Rydz-Śmigły’s historical stereotype and image valid to this day as a statesman taking bad decisions, a terrible politician, a disgraced soldier in the function of Commander-in-Chief and a fugitive who left the nation in the dark hour?
Magdalena Jankowska: Theatre Confrontations in Lublin – from the Perspective of Two Decades / 140
In 1996 Lublin theater directors: Janusz Opryński, Leszek Mądzik, Włodzimierz Staniewski and Tomasz Pietrasiewicz established the Programme Council of Theatre Confrontations with the aim of reactivating Young Theatre Confrontations, organized in 1976-1981 by Krzysztof Borowiec, Henryk Kowalczyk and Janusz Opryński. Every year a Commissioner chosen from among its members was responsible for the program. The emblem of Janusz Opryński’s proposal was the Theatre of the Eighth Day – the big stars of the engaged theater. Włodzimierz Staniewski opted for theatrical groups cultivating the practice of anthropological theater. Leszek Mądzik invited the artists dealing with the power of a visual sign. After several years it was decided that the program would be designed jointly by an extended collective body. Then the obligation was taken over by Janusz Opryński who became an artistic director of the festival. In 2013 Opryński handed over his task to the duo of curators: Marta Keil and Grzegorz Reske. With time, the rule developed to present a leading topic in a keyword form, eg .: Litwin, Gombrowicz, collective / Romania / identity or Decency clause. Besides performances, the participants of Theatre Confrontations have a chance to participate in a wide range of projects: readings, concerts, films, debates, talks about books, exhibitions, discussions with artists …
DISCOVERED YEARS LATER
Jarosław Cymerman: “The Factor of the Struggle for the New…” A Poetry Group “Spotlight” in the Journal “The Land of Lublin” (1927) / 144
A self-presentation of the members of the poetic group „Reflektor” (“Spotlight”) published in 1927 in the journal „Ziemia Lubelska” (“The Land of Lublin”). The book was then completely forgotten and only recently extracted from the archives of the Lublin Literary Museum of Józef Czechowicz. The poems in the volume were written by Wacław Gralewski, Konrad Bielski, Stanisław Grędziński and Józef Czechowicz. They were preceded by a brief literary critical sketch by Wacław Gralewski, presenting the history of the group and the concepts of its agenda. The introduction was written by Jaroslaw Cymerman (manager of the museum), who reveals the context of the group’s activity and provides information about the first edition of the self-presentation. Cymerman also discusses the poems, focusing on those by Wacław Gralewski and Józef Czechowicz, which had been completely unknown in the circle of literary scholars.
IN THE REFLECTION OF SPECIES
Anna Sobolewska: Two Projects on Humanization of Wild Animals / 152
The author of the essay offers a critical analysis of the relations between humans and animals. A lofty idea of a community of living beings is confronted with the descriptions of barbaric practices – including religious or culinary – underpinning the different cultures. The history of mankind is to a large extent the history of animal suffering. And even though nowadays the need for openness to “the other” is often emphasized, the anthropocentric point of view continues to cast a shadow on our relations with animals. Two stories told in two documentary films may serve as a good example – James Marsh’s Project Nim and Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man. In the first film a wild chimpanzee taken away by force from its natural habitat is eventually abandoned by its guardians once the experiment is finished. The other victim is a man – a naive dreamer from the second documentary, a believer in the absolute goodness hidden in nature. According to the author, it is necessary to fully acknowledge the individuality of different species.
CHILD AND THE WORLD
Łukasz Janicki and Jarosław Cymerman on the book How Arni and Dobek Saved the World by Grażyna Lutosławska / 162
Two reviews of a book for children Jak Arni i Dobek ratowali (How Arni and Dobek Saved the World) by Grażyna Lutosławska. The authors draw attention to the digressiveness and sensuality of Lutosławska’s prose, structural references to the classic magical fairytales, natural humor and numerous language games woven into the narrative. Lutosławska can look at the world through the eyes of children characters, expose the absurdity of the everyday behavior of adults and show differences in the psyche of little boys and girls. She knows how to talk about friendship, responsibility and growing up, formulating a clear, yet unobtrusive message: “in this world everything is possible.”
Ewa Dunaj: City Mesh or Art Kills / 167
A literary miniature about the life of St. Petersburg. A careful observation of the surroundings during a stroll through the city provides a deeper insight into the Russian reality. Its symbol become houses: at first glance, elegant and charming, in reality – dilapidated and in a constant state of repair or abandoned and on the verge of collapse, covered with a protective mesh. It seems that the word which fully reflects the condition of the cultural capital of Russia is “makeshift.”
Leszek Mądzik: Bygone (essey) / 169
Tomasz Bohajedyn: Edmund Monsiel – a Silent “Prophet from Wożuczyn” / 170
A sketch showing the life and work of Edmund Monsiel – a self-taught painter, born in 1897 in Wożuczyn near Zamość. In December 1942 Monsiel luckily escaped the fate of his brother-in-law, who, along with his daughter, was killed by the Germans carrying out executions of civilians. This situation influenced the rest of Edmund’s life. Until the end of the war he was hiding in the attic of his older brother’s house. There he experienced epiphany and secretly began to write down the prophecies illustrated with the drawings of the talking heads. These works were discovered after the painter’s death, and the first ones to become interested in Monsiel’s paintings were psychiatrists. Still the question remains whether the diagnosis of mental illness on the basis of the art created by the “prophet from Wożuczyn” and considering them only in the context of schizophrenic disorders is sufficiently motivated.
Lechosław Lameński: Henry / 174
A very personal text by prof. Lechosław Lameński, historian and art critic, head of the Department of History of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Catholic University of Lublin. It is dedicated to Henryk Fedder, his school friend, who passed away in 2015. He was a valued teacher, organizer of training courses, seminars and lectures on art and artistic education. He drew mostly with pen and ink, usually on A4-size paper sheets. Using dashes and dots Fedder created simple, though ambiguous forms with clear, organic or geometric origin. He consistently built the illusion of space in which the important role was played by the scattered light present among shapes emerging from the surrounding world. As a result, his drawings took on the expected depth and expression, which demonstrated the sensitivity and enormous artistic culture of their creator. Fedder treated his fascination with drawing as something very personal, not intended for public display. However, in September 2015 his friends organized his first individual exhibition at the Water Tower Gallery in Water Museum in Bydgoszcz. Unfortunately Fedder’s poor health condition did not allow him to participate in this event.
Krystyna Lenkowska: Conversation with the Master (about the Heart, but not Only) / 181
A text inspired by the book Słucham głosu serca (I Listen to the Voice of my Heart) – an interview conducted by Jarosław Sawic with Bogdan Loebl – poet, novelist, journalist, author of radio plays and blues and rock lyrics. Emphasizing the content of this publication, as well as its non-triviality and the competence of the interviewer, the author describes her first encounter with Loebl, recalls a volume of his poems Polak nieprawdziwy (Not a True Pole), of which she was a publisher, and reflects on the reasons for the conflict between Loebl and a prominent blues musician Tadeusz Nalepa. Her narrative allows for a better understanding of the personality of the artist to whom Polish blues owes its unique feature.
Waldemar Michalski: Michał Jagiełło – Novelist, Poet, Essayist, Mountaineer (23.08.1941-1.02.2016) / 184
A text commemorating Michał Jagiełło (1941-2016), author of numerous books of prose and poetry, historical and literary works, including the books on the Tatra Mountains in Polish art and poetry, Polish multiculturalism, national minorities, eastern policy and Catholic revival. His moving book Wołanie w górach (The Cry in the Mountains) about the history and activity of Tatra Mountain Rescue Team (TOPR), which is also a chronicle of the most interesting and most difficult rescue operations, had 8 editions. Jagiełło for decades practiced mountain climbing. He was an alpinist, skier and Mountain Rescue Team lifeguard. In 1989-1997 he served as Deputy Minister of Culture, and from 1998 to 2007 he was the director of the National Library; for many years he presided over a National Library Council. He was a member of the Programme Board of the Eastern Culture Foundation “Accent” since it was established in 1994.
Notes about the Authors / 187