In Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw I saw a new play directed by Krystian Lupa, one of my favourite theatre directors. with much input from the actors, including some improvisation. This collaboration between Teatr Powszechny in Łódz and in Warsaw, is based on John Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s famous song Imagine. A group of New Age friends, inspired by such characters as Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Thomas Bernhard and others, are invited by their old leader to a reunion. It takes them back to the 1960’s and, at the same time, asking important questions about today, including the war, climate emergency, our fragility and the future the humanity in general. No subtitles, but I recommend it, if you are in Warsaw; however be prepared for six hours. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ku1ahR53TI
On 16 March we held our first workshop about literature in translation at Broughton High School in Edinburgh.
The opening of ‘Sour Cherries’, a chapter from Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg, was read out in Polish by one of the students, followed by the chapter in Eliza Marciniak’s English translation. A lively discussion ensued about the subject of the story, and on literary translation in general. The students (S2, 12-13 years old) found it easy to identify with the main protagonist. They understood her emotions, as she was of a similar age, but her way of life, in the Polish countryside in early 1980s, seemed very different from theirs. Lots of hands were raised, interesting answers were given and insightful points made.
Small items of Polish food specialities were handed out as prizes for great participation. The teacher was pleased with the workshop; it was a welcome addition to a regular French class. Seven students who were interested in reading the whole book were offered copies supplied by Granta Publications. The Polish original has been sent to the school in an e-book format, while the three paper copies are going by post to the school library, courtesy of the Polish publisher Wydawnictwo Czarne.
We believe that meetings about Polish literature in English translation (as well as translation from other languages) will have a positive effect on readership and on the understanding of other nationalities and their cultures, helping to develop tolerance and social integration.
Zielony Balonik – Scottish Polish Book Club is planning to hold Transfiction or literature in translation workshop, in one of the local hight schools in March 2022, discussing Sour Cherries chapter of Wioletta Greg’s, Swallowing Mercury, translated by Eliza Marciniak and published in 2017 by Portobello Books, now part of Granta. The original title Guguły ‘unripe fruit’ was published by Wydawnictwo Czarne in 2014. We are focusing on translated literature ‘to give us glimpses into foreign aspects of our world while simultaneously shedding light on the things that link us into our common humanity’. Scotia Gilroy
This serial (available on YoutTube) is great to watch and it hasn’t dated. In seven parts, it is one of the cult Polish TV seres from the 1980s, with Roman Wilhelmi in the main role. Great portrait of the pre-WW2 Poland.
Justyna Sobolewska signing her new book about Kornel Filipowicz, Miron, Ilia, Kornel, published by Iskry this year. It is a warm September day, at the Warsaw Book Fair in front of the Palace of Culture. It would be great if it was translated into English. Perhaps we could invite Sobolewska to come to Edinburgh to tell us about Filipowicz and what people tend to read in Poland.
I highly recommend Wojtek Smarzowski’s new and controversial film Wesele (Wedding), strong and poetic at the same time, opened in October in Polish cinemas. We saw it in Kino Atlantic in Warsaw. It is a double story, one happening now in a small village; the daughter of a pig farmer and entrepreneur is getting married. A second story, seen through the eyes of the grandfather, takes as back to the World War II and just before, when he was in love with a young jewish girl from the same village. It is inspired by a gruesome, but how important, recollection of Jedwabne tragedy. It is Smarzowski’s story about Polish demons past and present, xenophobia, parochialism, fear of the other, questionable influence of the church and nationalism. Not to be missed and hope it will come to the UK.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oygxbPM5Hc Beautifully read, with a real understanding of the philosophical meaning of this poem. Here is my translation.
A soul on the beach
is studying philosophy.
The soul asks the body:
– Who tied us together?
The body says:
– I need to tan my knees.
The soul asks the body:
– Is it true,
that we don’t exist?
The body says: – I am tanning my knees.
The soul asks the body:
– Is it in you or in me
that dying begins?
The body laughs.
It has tanned its knees.
Tomasz Miłkowski (Trybuna 03.01.2020) refers to Olga Tokarczuk’s sketch The Pearl and The Doll (Wydawnictwo Literackie 2011), and quotes Tokarczuk: “Time treats literature differently then people. Time had no effect on The Doll. Literature can operate in its magical duality, but only if it is a masterpice. It tells us, on one hand, in great detail about the historic and defined time at the end of the XIX century, and the stories the living people. It tells us <how it was>, or rather <how it could have been>. The novel tells us about an inner experience, but not about the recorded facts. On the other hand it tells us <how it is> referring to the basic psychological laws, which age slower then the external world. Actually, everything what is essential in The Doll could be happening now>.”
Miłkowski writes: ‘She is makes a surprising comparison between Wokulski’s situation and that of the hero of Hymn of the Pearl by Czesław Miłosz, a free reworking of an apocryphal story of Thomas. The main comparing event of the Hymn is the awakening of the Prince, who inspired by the letter from his parents, returns to his earlier goal (of finding of the Pearl). The choice of this comparison, between the path of Wokulski and that of the Hymn, Tokarczuk explains by the presence of “the metaphors of dreaming and waking up, path and goal, descending and lifting up – the same signs which moved me so much in Lalka.”
An evening of presentations and readings portraying the influence of Joseph Conrad as a European and his links with Scotland. Conrad experts Professor Laurence Davis of the Joseph Conrad Society and the University of Glasgow, and Professor Linda Dryden of Edinburgh Napier University will enlighten and surprise as thy reveal more of the life and times of Joseph Conrad.
St Andrew’s Day, 30 November 2017, 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Augustine Church, 41-43 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EL
To book contact: http://bit.ly/2zvv4RA