Joanna Clark: You’d Better Not Talk About It / 7
The question posed by the narrator’s twenty-year-old granddaughter about the essence of true love will remain unanswered, yet it brings back some memories: he – a Pole-emigrant in post-war London, participant of the Warsaw Uprising, she – a student from Poland, temporarily employed as an au pair at the home of an Anglican pastor. The historical background of the love drama is a very turbulent London of 1963; in culture, the invasion of the Angry Young Men; in The Royal Ballet, Rudolf Nureyev; in cinema, James Bond; in politics, the penetration of the government circles by the Russian spies; and, finally, the assassination of President John Kennedy. Which is harder to talk about after all these years: history, including the history of Polish emigration after World War II, or unrequited love?
Jadwiga Graboś: poems / 25
Piotr Biłos: Smell. With Wiesław Myśliwski Through the Eye of a Needle / 28
Discussing the latest book by Wiesław Myśliwski, Ucho Igielne (The Eye of a Needle), the author of the essay draws attention to a number of basic issues, such as: the relationship of gnomicity characteristic to this prose with the dynamics of the entire work calling for individual reception; the figure of the main character’s split personality as an expression of rooting this prose in grand existential problems evoking echoes, among others, from Gombrowicz; the difference between the act as an act and action, which is to a large extent the foundation of the opposition between femininity and masculinity outlined by Myśliwski, but also a determinant of the evolution of the original roles; the motive of spats and quarrels, crucial for the human condition, as an essential component of the plot; the duality of youth and old age as one of the expressions of ontological duality; or finally the question of the protagonist’s identity – a “homeless in the world,” feeling alien to himself and his life. Above all, however, The Eye of a Needle should be read in its entirety: as a work which due to its unique dynamics, intimately connected with its complexity, interacts as a whole, like a piece of music, while engaging the cognitive abilities, feelings and all the senses of the reader.
Kalina Kowalska: poems / 40
Krzysztof Kłosin: A Task / 42
Kamil is fed up with his life, but he lacks the courage to commit suicide. Every day, getting on the tram number 14, he hopes that supposedly defective tramway track will eventually derail the wagons and he will die in this accident “like a decent man.” On the tram he meets an avid protector of natural environment, who picked Kamil as his interlocutor, which makes the protagonist involuntarily listen to stories about endangered species of insects called Sympax. The meeting seems to him not accidental, especially that the stranger also mentions the defect of the tracks. Eventually the crash does not happen and thus Kamil has the opportunity to recognize the real intentions of the ecologist.
Michał Trusewicz: poems / 46
Adrian Gleń: Variations of Light (or Back to Dukla). About the Prose of Andrzej Stasiuk / 50
The theme of the article is the motif of light in Andrzej Stasiuk’s prose works. The author analyzes the dialectic of light (metaphor of sense) and darkness (the symbol of nothingness) present in this prose. First and foremost, he considers various ways of revealing this motif, taking into account the “degree of focus” of light, its intensity, and, finally, the circumstances in which the light’s operation gets recorded. Based on the conclusions drawn from the analysis, the author proposes a comprehensive interpretation of Dukla – “a novel about the light,” as the writer himself calls it.
Henryk Kozak: The Fall / 58
A cold November day. On a bench near a local supermarket, a few poor pensioners celebrate their friend’s name day. Five years ago this man saved the life of the narrator – when the latter unexpectedly fell down, Ludwik threw him on his back and carried him to a local clinic. Drinking alcohol, they wonder why they did not make it in the new reality after the fall of communism; they reminisce about their best years and regret that they could not make proper or just rational choices. The men are convinced that nothing depends on them anymore since happiness has turned away from them. Frustrated, they live from day to day, without hope for a better tomorrow.
Witold Graboś: poems / 63
Paweł Mackiewicz: A World that Cannot be Put Together. “Unperchability” – Continuation / 70
An essay inspired by the publication of the book Nieprzysiadalność (Unperchability) – created as a result of a conversation that Rafał Księżyk carried out with Marcin Świetlicki. The starting point of the considerations is the problem of autobiography, with complications and deformations, which it undergoes in Świetlicki’s works, mainly in the poetry of the author of Delta Dietla (Dietl Delta). Referring to the comments of Jerzy Jarzębski on the reverse of autobiographical “plots” in the poetic volumes of Świetlicki in the second half of the 1990s and the first decade of the next century, the author of the essay suggests that in the latest collection the “plots” make a come back with double power. In addition, they enable their creator (and the protagonist) to enter into public reality, into a world of supra-individual experiences and collective fears. This, in turn, forces the reconstruction of the objectives and goals of poetry. “I believe that poetry brings about a change” – Świetlicki confides to Księżyk. And his achievements of the recent years – especially the volume Drobna zmiana (Minor Change) – demonstrates that one should treat this confession seriously.
Mariusz Ropczyński: poems / 78
Ewa Mazur: short stories / 80
The stories are a part of the collection-in-progress titled Tajemnice (Mysteries). Each of them concerns the so-called “revealed secrets.” In the first one it is psychological and physical violence in a toxic relationship, which is a kind of game between the victim and the executioner, a game in which, after crossing the critical point, the roles are reversed. In the second – an intimate, pornographic photography, which is part of the erotic game between a pair of lovers. In the third story, the main character is a child, lost in an incomprehensible world of adults, consisting only of secrets; the child’s “secret” is an attempt to overcome loneliness, a kind of self-initiation. The disclosure of the secret can cause various effects: sometimes it will be a trivial social blunder, sometimes – a family scandal or a personal tragedy. In all the stories, keeping a secret is a prerequisite for maintaining daily stability, yet every time it turns out to be impossible.
Łukasz Komsta: poems / 87
Tomasz Kłusek: Homo Peregrinus, or Adam Fiala as a Prose Writer / 90
A sketch devoted to the prose works of Adam Fiala, mainly of the period preceding his departure to Australia in 1983. From among the books published at the time, a special triptych from 1978-1981 deserves special mention: Sprawy rodzinne (Family Affairs), Zygzakiem po prostej (Zigzag on the Straight), and Kiedy święci maszerują (When the Saints Go Marching In). Already his debut volume, Jeden myśliwy, jeden tygrys (1976, One Hunter, One Tiger), received a positive reception from the literary critics, with Henry Bereza at the forefront. The writer from Lublin devoted a lot of space to his home town, especially to the Lublin literary and artistic milieu in the 1960s and early 1970s. Fiala’s work is largely a continuation of the so-called small realism, but the features that are characteristic of this trend have deepened and greatly modified. The formal experiments, which were characteristic for Polish prose writers in 1970s, were all unfamiliar to Fiala.
Siergiej Slepuchin: poems / 104
Not only analytically …
Jarosław Cymerman: Radwan Planet [„»Zagram ci to kiedyś…« Stanisław Radwan w rozmowie z Jerzym Illgiem” (“»I Will Play It to You One Day…«” Stanisław Radwan in a Conversation with Jerzy Illg)]; Grzegorz Józefczuk: About Jerzy Ficowski, Or Poetry, History and Something Else [Jerzy Kandziora „Poeta w labiryncie historii. Studia o pisarskich rolach Jerzego Ficowskiego” (“A Poet in the Maze of History. Studies on the Writing Roles of Jerzy Ficowski”)]; Alicja Müller: Eternal Death Temptation [„Cyrk w świecie widowisk” (“Circus in the World of Spectacles”)]; Jan Lewandowski: Troubles with History and Modernity [Konrad Sutarski „Zarys dziejów Polski z węgierskimi powiązaniami” (“Outline of Polish History with Hungarian Connections”)]; Tomasz Dostatni: Fragile Heritage – Keys and Notes [Alfred Marek Wierzbicki: „Kruche dziedzictwo. Jan Paweł II od nowa” („Fragile Heritage. John Paul II from Scratch”)]; Mirosław Ikonowicz: “Kapuściński” Seen from the Perspective of the Next Generation [Marek Kusiba „Ryszard Kapuściński z daleka i z bliska” (“Ryszard Kapuściński from Far and Near”)] / 107
Reviews of recently published academic, essayistic and documentary books, seen against the background of the most important phenomena of contemporary culture.
Prose writers, prose writers …
Marcin Klimowicz: The Chain Of Singularity [Maciej Płaza „Robinson w Bolechowie” (“Robinson in Bolechów”)]; Wiesława Turżańska: Life as a Palimpsest [Joanna Clark „Królowa Barbara i inne opowiadania” (“Queen Barbara and Other Stories”)]; Stefania Michalska: The Story of Vilnius, which Is No More [Mirosław Ikonowicz “Pohulanka”]; Rafał Szczerbakiewicz: Endless Retrotopia [Yuri Wynnychuk „Tango śmierci” (“Tango of Death”)] / 130
Reviews of the latest books of prose written by literary scholars and critics. They contain detailed analyses and aim to characterize the most important currents and literary phenomena.
Eliza Leszczyńska-Pieniak: A Wonderful Journey with Janusz Grabiański / 144
An article devoted to one of the most recognizable Polish illustrators. Janusz Grabiański, a student of Jan Marcin Szancer. He became famous for his outstanding graphic designs. Elementarz (Elementary Book) by Marian Falski with Grabiański’s graphics influenced the imagination of several generations of Polish children. Grabiański was also the author of illustrations to the fairy tale of Maria Konopnicka, O krasnoludkach i sierotce Marysi (On Dwarfs and Little Orphan Mary), and thus his name entered in 1976 into the Honorary List of Hans Christian Andersen. As a graphic artist, he made his debut in Iskry, but he soon began working with the publishing house of Carl Überreuter in Vienna. Grabiański was one of those Polish artists who, despite the existence of the Iron Curtain, managed to develop a career outside the country.
Justyna Budzik: Bronka Michałowska – A Life in an Artistic Framework / 154
A presentation of the artistic achievements of Bronka Michałowska. The art of this Polish painter and author of several hundred ceramic works has been presented in the context of her immigration experience, which spans over her several years’ stay in London and then a trip to Canada (Toronto), where the artist had lived for sixty years, until her death in 2015. The article discusses the four main cycles that can be distinguished in Michałowska’s ceramic painting. These include ceramic paintings with figural and floral representations, symbolic and allegorical paintings and stained-glass ceramic paintings. A separate commentary has been given to the artist’s functional ceramics, which included multi-element faience sets, single plates, cups, as well as sugar bowls, vases and bowls.
Rafał Szczerbakiewicz: After the Crime is (Not) Over. Paradoxes of Prisoner of War and Prisoner Movies (Part One) / 162
Prison movies have been a consistently popular genre of entertainment cinema since the late 1930s. Film art is a testimony to social well-being, and cinematic and television images of imprisonment are associated with questions about the nature of crime and punishment, which usually entail anxiety motives. “Supervision and punishment,” which is the prerogative of sovereign power, demands additional, symbolic “making sense of.” In this context, POW (prisoner-of-war) films occupy a special position. They reflect on the causes and consequences of the imprisonment without a trial under the state of emergency, which is inflicted on people who are innocent under civil and criminal law. It is not without a reason that Le Grande Illusion (1937) by Renoir, a model prisoner-of-war film, in a metaphorical way illustrates the crisis of the concept of freedom in the modern world. Drawing from this ultimate model, the creators of Hollywood prisoner-of-war films devote a lot of attention to ethical issues. They wonder not only about the manifestations of the solidarity of fellow prisoners, but also about the reasons for their depravation in oppressive situations. POW films convince that in a world that is a prison or a death camp, even among the righteous, there are no more innocent ones.
Aleksandra Pucułek: Now BARDs (on Lublin Bard Federation) / 175
In 1990s a group of young performers of literary songs appeared in Lublin. They had different voices and different musical sensibilities, but they had already given performances at national festivals. These artists began to perform together, first at Kotłownia club, and since 1999 at Hades Art Cafe, thus starting the band under the name of Lublin Bard Federation. In their work, they tended to literary songs, full of metaphors, sometimes commenting on the reality. LBF has never been uniform, both in terms of lyrics and music. It relied on authors, composers and musicians drawing from folk, classical music and ambitious rock. The group performed in theaters, cafes and during large outdoor events, in Poland and abroad. They recorded 10 albums. In 2019, Lublin Bard Federation celebrates their 20th anniversary.
Jerzy Święch: Letter of the Hungarian Polish Philologist / 189
István Molnár: Letter (no longer private) to Professor Jerzy Święch / 192
A letter by Professor István Molnár, largely treating about his research and academic work, to Professor Jerzy Święch, who preceded this letter with extensive commentary. István Molnár studied, among others, Polish philology at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, and after returning to Hungary, he established the Department of Polish Studies at the University of Debrecen. He is a recognized Slavist, literary historian and researcher of literary Hungarian-Polish and Polish-East Slavic relations. Jerzy Święch is also an outstanding expert on contemporary literature, especially from the period of World War II, literature created in exile and the history and theory of artistic translation.
Eliza Leszczyńska-Pieniak: Traces of Tomek Kawiak / 197
Discussion of the vernissage of Tomek Kawiak at the BWA gallery in Zamość. His installation called Bricks has become a pretext for considering the meanings given to these objects by the artist – a brick can be an attribute, a sign, an object of art, but above all a link between people and cultures. „Cegłowanie świata” (“Bricking the world”) described by Leszczyńska-Pieniak is one of the most important motifs in Kawiak’s work.
Marek Danielkiewicz: Literary Crumbs (essay) / 199
Leszek Mądzik: Mist (essay) / 201
Notes about the authors / 202