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eMigrating Landscapes Interview / Marek Kazmierski

DTS poster 20th June
June 2013

This is your first full-length publication. Please tell us a bit about what your literary career has been until now and how this collection of short stories was put together?
It’s pointless to talk about “careers” when discussing writing. Maybe even harmful. I’ve wanted to be a writer, little else, since my university days. I then spent ten years working, travelling, doing all sorts of reckless research to have something to write about. It wasn’t until I finished a novel and tried to get an agent that I realised the world of publishing is far more complex and, in places, insidious than expected. I did what I was told to “become a writer” – penning columns in newspapers, attending and running creative writing workshops, getting short stories published here and there, teaching, lecturing, etc. Even though I was still working in refugee centres, prisons, bars and the like, just not to know I had not lost that sense of connection with life outside of literature. This collection came out of a desire to prove something else as well. To show I can write in different voices, from different perspectives, as opposed to what a lot of contemporary writers, especially men, do – writing from their own solitary and often ditchwater-dull perspective.
These stories are various tales on displacement, on migrants, nomads, people who are looking for their place, but not always finding it. To what extent is it your personal experiences of an emigrant, but also someone who lives in London, the European centre of migration on one hand and on the other to what extent is it the result of your observation of the social and political change in Europe of last 10 years?
All the stories in the book are true in the sense that they happened either to people I know or read about in the press. As true as literature can ever be. Ten years ago, I didn’t know a single Polish person on this island. Now, I know hundreds, and that is just those involved in cultural animation and social work. But the book is not about the here and now alone. I meant it to be universal – through experiences of a specific group of people in a specific time and place for it to say something about reality to anyone anywhere on the planet. Young, old. Free, oppressed. Simple, smart. I believe in literature as “essential entertainment” – layered so that anyone can get something out if in a myriad of ways. I would run a marathon if I had to face the prospect of having to read Joyce or Hughes or Milosz again. They wrote books for their high-brow pals, and that is death on the page for me.
Among the ten central characters those who stand out are outsiders, for whom the symbolic disconnection from a “source”, cutting off from their roots, has had a rather negative effect. Do you agree with this reading of the book?
I have to. In spite of how “dark” the book looks and reads, I am a blessed with a sunny disposition. Painful experiences wash off of me, and things other people find depressing I often find inspiring. But on a more macro level, I don’t expect art to cuddle. If the people we read about don’t hurt, and aren’t sometimes destroyed by their own folly, we will never take anything from art other than distraction, a betrayal of what the power of storytelling can and should do. Especially that now, after a few decades of consumerist comfort zone, the world is starting to spin in all sorts of worrying directions.
The title of your collection is intriguing and can be interpreted in many ways. Can you say something more about how you came to choose it?
Damn, I could, but I’d rather not. A great deal of thought went into it. I thought about selecting a title from one of the stories in the book, playing it a little towards convention, but then intuition whispered in my ear and the whisper was seductive enough. I think it sounds glorious, though the problem I am now faced with is trying to repeat it in Polish. It’s funny just how untranslatable certain words, phrases and concepts are. It is a trap I set for the reader. How they deal with it is their own story.
The subtitle of the collection is very intriguing: “a Decalogue for the 21st century”. The obvious – and also Polish – connotation is to Kieslowski series, but it is also a very strong moralistic standpoint: to propose a series of parables with strong moral lessons. Is this what you intended or perhaps it plays a sort of ironic subtext to the contemporary secular world, where clear religious commandments are constantly travestied?
Kieslowski was not a preacher. He often told ridiculously naïve parables, but when he hit his stride, he created incredible art. The best. And not without forethought. The way in which he created his Dekalog in the early ’80s, as a response to Communism and as a desire to get out of the ghetto his art was in at the time, this is something I can identify with. He put a lot of planning into that project, how he shot the films, and how two came to be cut as feature length movies. It made his name around the world, success I am trying to piggy back onto. I studied comparative religion, but I am not a spiritual person at all. A mystic, very much, but the idea of lecturing anybody about this or that, well, regardless of what ghosts or fairytales you believe in, is a recipe for awful art. I think we live in a very moral age, compared to the past, an age ruled by legislation and legal frameworks, but we are all too often too stupid to make the laws work for us. Hence blood has to flow.
There are a few themes which appear constantly throughout the book: the knife, the role of body as a way of communicating spiritual suffering or the clumsy linguistic communication between the newcomers and the native (the English as the language of the narrative or the inner teller of the book). How do you see the main role of these stories for English literature? What is the role of the Other in contemporary world? What do we learn from the foreigner?
The variety of knives which appear as a narrative device in all ten stories is a risky little McGuffin. Notice the cover of the book. The knife is held as a shield, not a weapon. I am hiding behind it, standing back. The one hovering in the corner is more a torch than a blade, hidden among all those leaves, and yet will people read it this way? Or will they just see darkness and obvious brutality? The body is absent from my writing, all too often, so including themes of sexual force, self-harm, family conflict, all that was necessary to overcome my weaknesses as a storyteller. But the knife also works in a number of other ways. As a gift. An artist’s tool. A catalyst for change. And setting all stories on one day, the day before Xmas Eve, was also a challenge. Stupid? Reckless? I guess Poles are seen and see themselves as such by our Others – Germans, Brits, Americans. I wanted to play on this stereotype, even refer to it in the first story, as something both real and unreal. The problem in the 21st century will be managing that duality – diversity and cohesion – hence the book sort of tries to liberate some of its characters, give them international perspective. They are off to the steppes of Russia, Sri Lanka, Chile, the States. And, of course, home, though not back to what it was before, as the characters themselves are no longer who they were when they left their “motherland”.
Which is your favourite story in the collection?
“Losing Light”. It broke my heart to live and broke my heart to write. Though now I would say the “light”, both subject and source, is very much found.
I have few favourite stories from the book, and one of them is “Elvis and the Third Sea”: what I like most is the effect of the foreign language. Zosia is telling her traumatic life story and revealing the most intimate experiences in imperfect foreign language, yet, it seems the perfect tool to do it: the trauma cannot be put in the correct grammar, it can only be told through drastic stammering, repetition, and half-broken sentences. You made the Ponglish a vehicle of expressing the suffering, while it usual the source of jokes and anecdotes. Tell us a bit about your choice of language for this story?
This one was difficult to write, both from the thematic point of view and the style I chose for the piece. Writing a monologue uttered by someone facing a foreign therapist, for the first time ever, trying to express something about self-harm, family history, a love which is both their liberation and damnation, was a tough call. Not sure one I answered fully. I worked very, very hard on getting the voice right. Reading it aloud over and over again, sending it to writer friends of mine, especially female friends. I wanted the character to be hobbled by her new tongue, but to have poetry too. She comes from a beautiful part of the world. And is in love. For the first time ever. That sort of grace must also come through in the language.
You have been translating Polish poetry for many years. Does the lyricism which demands you go deep into the mysteries of a language also affect your prose?
Not as much as it should. I want to write each line of my prose the way poets write verse, but I fear it is too intense. Readers will find it pretentious. Perhaps I am wrong. I need to get feedback, a great editor, a mentor. Writing is a solitary process in itself, but the business of creating stories to write about is so fundamentally collective. In this, translating hundreds and hundreds of amazing Polish poems in the past few years has been instrumental. Learning from the blades of masters.
HMP Pentonville poster
You have been working in and around prisons for many years and now you are the editor of Not Shut Up, the magazine that aims at presenting the creativity of people in jail and custody. How has this experience influenced your writing?
It has made me both more socially aware and more ruthless. The need to express ourselves through storytelling is in all of us, but it has been locked away in ivory towers of class and wealth. I want what I write and what I do till the day I die to be liberating, physically, emotionally, metaphorically, literally. Art, and the freedom it offers, comes with a very worrying price tag, but being deprived of access to it, and the permission to engage expressively, is far more costly to individuals and the communities they are part of.
The knife which appears in all ten stories can also be read in different ways, for example in Freudian psychoanalytics it symbolises “masculine rules” and the phallus. From previous interviews with you it seems your favourite writers are men: Stasiuk, Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy, Hunter S. Thompson, Graham Swift, Joseph Conrad, Bukowski. Do you consider literature to be gendered and if so is it in some ways shaped by this?
The knife is like truth – it can kill and it can save lives, depending on how it is applied. I read a lot when I was younger, mainly fiction, and stumbled upon a lot of male writers, who dominate all sorts of literary territories. In the past decade, however, I have read far more non-fiction. And spent far more time engaging with people rather than characters in books. Here, women win hands down. In poetry, for example, I find they often create much more satisfying work, less introverted, less pretentious. The novel I am working on now is written in the voice of a woman. It interests me more, always has done, though when I was younger perhaps I listened to men in trying to become one myself. Now, I am more focused on a universal, mystical brand of humanity. Gender is still very powerfully there, but it does not define the limits of what I am trying to say in writing any more.
In the closing, autobiographical piece, you state “I have a Polish heart and a English head, ad that is why I am happy”. Does such a dichotomy deliver happiness?
I wrote that piece to impress the Penguin judges. I guess it worked, as it ended up being one of the Decibel Prize winners, published in 2007. It is flawed (thankfully, I had the chance to edit it for this publication), but then again, yes, being wildly emotional and at the same time fiercely logical, I think, gives me improved chances of getting to where I am going. People who are a product of different cultures, as opposed to being “born and bred”, are made of alloy, a mix of compounds, lighter, way stronger than base metals, so here is another macho metaphor which fits.
At a certain point in your writing life, the work of the American playwright, screenwriter and actor Sam Shepard fascinated you. Do you think his style has in some way influenced your first book?
It was his prose and poetry which blew me away. Motel Chronicles and Hawk Moon, a book I have been going back to for 20 years and still find new things to discover. All great art transcends time, remains perennially fresh. Since he wrote it back in the ’70s, and then the script for Paris, Texas (also my favourite film), he has been rehashing the same old themes in more and more tired ways. A heartbreaking erosion of talent. But then again, Shepard, for all his cowboy mythologies, is one of the few writers I know willing to confront the idea of love head on. He did this better than any other writer I know. For that, he will always be my literary father figure.
According to your website, you are a kind of “renaissance man”. You paint, shoot documentary films, translate, publish books, travel, edit a literary magazine, take active part in London’s literary scene, organising events and festivals. How in amongst all that tumult do you find time to write?
I painted years ago. Have not shot a film in ages. Yes, it is possible to do a lot of things at once, but only up to a point. It took me a year of hard, hard work to ready this book for publication (some of the stories were started many years ago). People always give me earache for being involved in “too many” projects at once. They never ask for reasons behind what they see as madness. Technology means we can all now be jacks of many trades – web builders, film editors, recording artists, proficient photographers – but to become a master of anything, you need a lot of strands of light channelled into a lazer-like beam. Otherwise, you might as well be writing concrete prose on concrete themes for concrete trade publications.
What are your future literary ambitions?
These haven’t changed since I turned 20 – to write three ground-breaking novels and then retire to some far-off place to translate some of my favourite Polish authors. I have a novel and a half done, so half way there. After that, it will be time to do something else for literature. No writer should be allowed to produce any more than three novels in a row, without having to then translate three more from another language. Just to get away from themselves and back out into a world beyond their own mythologies. Think about all those names putting out books year after year, Polish, British, American. How tired and tiresome they have become. Some literary “coach” should call time-out and tell them to get over themselves. Sit out the next round. Watch and relearn. I am writing a play about just such a writer, but not sure what will happen to that project. Knowing how my “career” has gone so far, I may not see those woods for a while yet.
Interview by Dr Urszula Chowaniec and Wioletta Grzegorzewska

eMigrating Landscapes Interview / SJ Fowler

June 2013


truth of the bear by Alexander Kell

eML / Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you came to poetry, your cultural background (are you English English, and is it as simple as that?) and how you see the trajectory of your literary journey shaping up?
SF/ I came to poetry in my mid twenties, less than five years ago. So … an immensely truncated version … I grew up in south west England, really all I was interested in was martial arts and wrestling. I travelled widely in the year after school learning martial arts, was a doorman too – quite a violent lifestyle. Then I went to university and barely studied, just scraped through. I fought professionally during that time and that was my life. I was in a pretty bad car crash and that lost a lot of money and time, and after having to do some heartless jobs to make things meet I went travelling again. That was a long, lonely trip and I happened, by pure chance, to take with me some books I bought in a charity shop while waiting for a train, Penguin’s modern European poets Gunnar Ekelof and Tadeusz Rozewicz. It changed my life, I had nothing else to do but read them, over and over. My beginnings in poetry were always translated! More than that I was immediately drawn to the avant garde through my studies in Philosophy, I returned to undertake my masters in London. My work immediately started to look beyond the UK, and this wasn’t even really a dualistic notion, England / Abroad, because I don’t really enjoy England beyond London and I don’t know what it is really, and London is not ‘England’. This is a global city of global poets. Oh, and I have Swedish and Welsh ancestry as well as English, but I am 100% monolingual, sadly.
The Maintenant Project – it’s success is so richly satisfying, if you hadn’t invented and driven it forward, the poetic landscape around us right now would be much the poorer. How did it come about and has it turned out as you expected?
When I starting out I got to read in different countries quite early and it really just made me realise how much work that was contemporary was being occluded in the UK because it was contemporary, and how much people proffered work from beyond their language only when it had reached the unfortunate respectability of middle age. It stunned me in fact, that so much incredible work was unavailable. Moreover, I learned so much about the possibilities of community from these experiences outside of London, it informed so much of what I wanted to achieve with the readings. So I began the interviews to really represent what I thought was grossly under appreciated – contemporary European work and an understanding of just how radical and wide ranging and exciting poetry has become in the new millennium. I actually put on the first reading to impress a girl, who was from the country of the poets (it worked, in the end) but while I was a little unwilling at first, the process became so informative to my own work and practice it was actually hard to stop. I never really saw the series as featuring 100 poets and interviews and so many events as we’ve done. I try to resist my natural urge to formalise and systemise such things, I’ve just gone with the flow and having met so many deeply interesting and generous poets and people the project blossomed.
What is your relationship with the English language? How has working with so many different tongues and translation projects affected your own practice?
It is the only language I possess in any real or cogent manner. Hard not to sound flippant in print, as it were, but I deliberately under-conceptualise ideas about my relationship to the language. I realised early on that until the moment comes that I possess another language I am blind to all meaning outside of English and this is something that can produce great value if embraced, rather than resisted. There is something to be said for revelling in a certain kind of ignorance. I smash English, I break syntax, meaning, sentence structure – I write in every different way my subject requires me to write in – I work with sound poetry, attacking the roots of meaning, I work with concrete poetry, making the visuality of letters the meaning of the poem. This gift to not be precious, to not fetishise, or romanticise, my own tongue has undoubtedly been influenced by the plethora of languages I’ve worked with in Maintenant, the volume of poets and translators and how English is all their unifying speech.
How do you perceive the world of poetry being affected by the vehicle that is the internet? Is it all a rosy picture when it comes to self-expression and communication between individuals and cultures?
I think the fundamental news is good, but purely in the realm of access and communication. The world of 30 years ago is truly unrecognisable because of the internet, and its possibilities. It has firmly made history historical when it comes to the reasons, influences, ideas and culture of poets. The thing about the internet, it’s inherent character, is that it is so immense and ever growing that all one can do when commenting on its potentiality and effect is to make weak assertions. The internet is a space of community and many are hermetically sealed by its members – it is also a place of change, and what those changes will bring to our writing and our world I don’t know.
Do you think poetry is changing in response to current developments within society? Is it becoming part of what is being termed “the Third Culture” and as a result more relevant or engaged or any other term you might choose to define arts which are getting to grips with their own alienation from mainstream reality, hence becoming more connected with events outside of the cultural milieu? 
I do, absolutely, but that supposes I know how poetry was, before I was around, or that I can possibility understand it now. With the brackets on, I think poetry has not moved anywhere, the mainstream has moved. In a very short space of time, fifty years here, less elsewhere – the dominant taste of culture has shifted to a democratised model. The majority of people make up the majority of taste. Their taste is not for poetry, not for something that should be complex, as life is complex, that will not offer ease, that will not turn away from expiry, confusion and so on. Poetry is not an escape downwards, into the cellar. It allows you up, onto the roof, but you have to fucking climb to get up there. People don’t want to do that, and that’s completely fine by me. The people who like poetry now, generally speaking, are the same in relative number and education and character (both good and bad of course) who did one hundred years ago, it’s only since then the rest of society has been allowed to have their say. So poetry is not alienated, to me. It is an utterly personal pursuit, wholly about the individual and their attempts to understand, when reading, or express, when writing, the infinite ambiguous complexity of their thousands / millions of experiences, sensations, emotions that make up their life and their being. This is a completely secular and profound engagement with our possibility, and it is for us, alone, to mulch through life with poetry. When we share ideas or meet to read, well then it’s about people first, people who share an interest, but it ends there. And so poetry, again just for me, has its limits and expansiveness built within it, and questions of its place within or without culture are arbitrary, I don’t care about them at all, because I’m happy alone with my books, humbled by their immensity.
Interviewed by Marek Kazmierski


SJ Fowler is a poet & artist working in the modernist and avant garde traditions.
He been commissioned for original works of poetry, sonic art, visual art, installations and performance art by Mercy, the Tate, the ​​​​London Sinfonietta’s Blue Touch Paper project and the Voiceworks project.

His books include Red Museum (Knives forks & spoons press), Fights (Veer books), Minimum Security Prison Dentistry (Anything Anymore ​Anywhere press) ​and Recipes (Red Ceilings press).​​​​​ Other collections forthcoming include releases from Eggbox publishing and Penned in the Margins.​
He is ​​​​the UK editor of Lyrikline.org and VLAK magazine and the poetry editor for 3am magazine.​​ ​He is the curator of the Enemies project, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Arts Council England. http://www.weareenemies.com
​He has performed his work at international poetry festivals, galleries and reading series in Germany, Holland, Norway, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, Turkey and Poland, and at venues across the UK including Wigmore Hall, The Sage, St Georges Hall, Morden Tower, the Voewood festival, the Liverpool Biennial, The Runnymede festival, the Reel festival, the 4 days festival, the Bristol poetry festival, the Great Escape, Liverpool music week, the Brighton Fringe, the Arnolfini, the Cornerhouse, the Anthony Burgess centre, the Cube, Norwich writers centre, the Rich Mix ​​and the Southbank centre. ​www.youtube.com/fowlerpoetry
​He has exhibited in galleries across Europe, ​​including Wortwedding (Berlin), the Hardy Tree, the Darnley gallery, the Rich Mix (London), Tarp (Vilnius). He has published art objects with Like This press and Zimzalla. He has toured the UK with the Golden Hour and with Electronic Voice Phenomena.
​He has featured in multiple anthologies, including Adventures in Form (Penned in the Margins) ​Oxfam young poets: Lung Jazz (Cinnamon press) and Dear World and everything in it (Bloodaxe). He has published eleven chapbooks with publishers such as Writers forum, the Red Ceilings ​and Oystercatcher. He has also published numerous collaborative publications with artists like David Kelly and Ben Morris, and poets like Marcus Slease and Sarah Kelly. He has published in over 100 poetry magazines and online journals.
He edits the Maintenant ​interview series, which features weekly interviews with contemporary ​European poets. ​He was commissioned by the Poetry Parnassus festival to interview 100 of its ​contributing poets. ​www.maintenant.co.uk​​
​​He organises & curates poetry projects and events in London through the Enemies project and Maintenant, ​including events at the Rich Mix centre, the Nova festival, the Southbank centre and the Poetry Parnassus festival. He has been commissioned and independently curated over 80 events in the last three years.
He has lectured at numerous conferences and festivals, including the Rest is Noise at the Southbank centre, and led workshops on poetry, and on collaboration in the arts at venues like the Saison Poetry Library and the Poetry Parnassus festival
He has been translated into Spanish, Hungarian, Romanian, Croatian, Bulgarian, French and Vietnamese.​​
​He received a degree from the University of Durham, and a masters degree from the University of London, both in philosophy. He is currently undertaking a PhD at the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre, Birkbeck college focusing on ethics and early 20th century avant garde poetry. He is also an employee of the British Museum and a martial arts instructor.

eMigrating Landscapes Interview / Maria Jastrzebska

June 2013


1 / Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you came to be writing poetry in the UK?

I came to London as a young child with my family who were escaping post-war Communism and who saw the UK as the land of freedom and democracy. I always wanted to write and started early, even before I was actually literate. At one point, I thought I’d be writing short stories, but poetry somehow claimed me and it ain’t letting go!

2/ Having a non-English name, is that something which has ever had an influence on your career as a poet? Do people ever comment on it or do we live in a society where multiculturalism really is now the norm?

Is it more of a norm in London? I think my Polish surname with both a z and an ę in it has made a big difference. People baulk at it, commenting constantly wherever I go in the UK and every time I meet someone for the first time. If not for my name, I’d pass for English as I lost my accent early on. Not only does hardly anyone introducing me at poetry events ever pronounce it even half-right, but on a deeper level I think it does create a barrier of sorts. People can’t say it, spell it… or remember it. I’ve written about this at greater length in the following blog entry. I do think it has contributed to my work being marginalised. But I won’t change it!

3 / What is your relationship with the Polish language? How do the two coexist in your creative mind/processes?

English is my dominant language, so I feel much less confident in Polish, but on the other hand it has a profoundly emotional resonance for me. I ‘think’, ‘hear’ or start my poems in English, but sometimes I check a word or a line in Polish. And Polish words sneak in. I miss hearing it more as I live and work with English speakers nowadays. Brakuje mi czegoś.

4 / Your work involves a lot of collaboration with other artists and orgs, often on an international level, can you tell us more about this aspect of your practice?

I love collaborations! I hope to do more. Having actors bring my drama Dementia Diaries to life was a real highlight as well as working with the composer and the director of course. I am also excited by other art forms and the cross-fertilisation when you work with someone else. I’ve co-translated a book of Slovenian poetry and loved that as a way in to a ‘cousin’ culture. The international aspect is vital for me. Otherwise I feel trapped in English insularity. I’m currently involved in a queer oral history project in Brighton as an editor and I have done a lot of work with a youth group here as well as teaching some emerging Polish poets. It’s good to get out of the ivory tower/isolation of working on your own stuff. I love working with groups and teaching comes quite naturally to me though these days I am more focused on my writing.

5 / How do you feel when being defined as a “migrant writer”? Does that label work for you, or is it something you feel needs to be challenged?

It’s like with any label. Interestingly reviewers seem to be picking up on the ‘immigrant’ aspect of my new book. See for instance here, though it’s certainly not the only theme in the collection.

I don’t think we can do away with labels at this point in time, but of necessity they are limited. It all depends how they are employed – whether to signal something of interest or to pigeon-hole – and so belittle – a writer. A similar problem arises with other terms woman writer etc etc. No one wants to be ghettoised or have their work side-lined. At the same time, eMigration informs my work and this will have a particular resonance with other i/emigrants as well as more general appeal. I am deliberately avoiding the term ‘universal’, as I think it’s a fiction, defined by whoever runs the show.

6 / How did you choose which language to write in and what difference has it made to your creativity/writing career?

I do wonder how differently I might be writing if my early reading had been more steeped in Polish literature as opposed to the mere glimpses of it I had growing up in the West. But then I’m grateful for some of the so called Western influences I did enjoy. I am also curious as to whether I’d have got to being a writer sooner or even later if I’d been living in Poland. I’m glad of the counter-culture of the 1970’s here. But this is a much longer topic…


At the Library of Memories by Maria Jastrzębska

Waterloo Press 2013

At the Library of Memories leads the reader from the ghost of one room to another, via the senses and catching at fragments of stories. This is an invitation to examine not only individual, arresting memories – at once familiar and disturbing – but the process of remembering itself. How we come to terms with our own past and what collectively we make of it are questions running in and out of these vivid, exciting poems.

“In Maria Jastrzębska’s new collection memory is a powerful and truthful tool, admitting fallibility and never exceeding its prerogative, yet evoking a whole world of tastes and smells, longings, anxieties and human needs. This is vivid, thoughtprovoking poetry that takes us by stages to the heart of the immigrant experience and leaves us with urgent questions which imperceptibly have become our own.” Susan Wicks

“Maria Jastrzębska’s epic new collection is fabulous,
audacious and compelling; here are dazzling conjurings of lost times and places, tremendously moving elegies, and astonishing fragments of intricate stories recovered from lost worlds. This exceptional collection is the work of a poet at the height of her imaginative powers.” Nick Drake

Maria Jastrzębska was born in Warsaw, Poland and came to England as a child. At the Library of Memories is her third full-length collection. She is co-translator of Elsewhere by Iztok Osojnik with Ana Jelnikar (Pighog Press, 2011) and has co-edited several anthologies. Her poems feature in the British Library project Between Two Worlds and are widely anthologised: from The Virago Book of Wicked Verse to This Line Is Not For Turning, Contemporary British Prose Poetry (Cinnamon Press 2011). Her drama Dementia Diaries toured nationally in 2011. A founder of South Pole artist’s network and Queer Writing South, she lives in Brighton.

Maria is available for readings / workshops/festivals during 2013
to coincide with the release of her third collection.
Further information about her work:

At the Library of Memories – published 2013 by:
Waterloo Press, 95 Wick Hall, Furze Hill, Hove BN3 1PF
ISBN 978-1-906742-57-7
With grateful acknowledgement of assistance from
Arts Council England and Polish Cultural Institute.

13 May, 2013: Poetry of Wioletta and Genowefa – Interview at the Borders of Language

UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies

eMigrating Landcapes Project 


(Photo by Bogdan Frymorgen)

Wioletta Grzegorzewska


Genowefa Jakubowska-Fijałkowska


at the Borders of Language


(Poetical Debate on Language led by Sophie Mayer)

Monday 13 May 2013, 5-7 pm.

Room 431

Reception: Room Senior Common Room, 4th floor

UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
16 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW

Registration: https://emigratinglandscapes.org/registration/

For further details please contact dr. Urszula Chowaniec: u.chowaniec@ucl.ac.uk

Poster: Seminar 3_Wioletta Grzegorzewska and Genowefa Jakubowska Fiałkowska

Blog Wioletty (in Polish)  here

Articles on Genowefa (in Polish) Literackie pl., Literatura jest sexy

Sophie’s blog here

Blog Marek Kazmierski, translator of Wioletta and Genowefa here


Soon on our website:

  •  Selected poems by the authors,
  • The detailed programme of the meeting on May 13th 
  • Questionnaire for everybody who would like to ask questions in advance (all questions will be answered either during the meeting or later on the website!)


20 March, 2013: AM Bakalar and Grażyna Plebanek

Poster: Seminar 2_Grazyna Plebanek and Asia Bakalar

UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies / eMigrating Landcapes Project

invites you for a debate on:

The new ideas about borders and “New Europeans?” in contemporary literary landscapes. Meeting with two authors:

AM Bakalar and Grażyna Plebanek

Commentary and discussion afterword will be led by Tim Beasley-Murray and Agata Pyzik.

Wednesday 20 March 2013, 5-7 pm

Room 433, with the reception afterwards in the Senior Common Room

UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
16 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW

direct streaming available at



For further details please contact: u.chowaniec@ucl.ac.uk


A.M. Bakalar was born and raised in Poland. She lived in Germany, France, Sicily and Canada before she moved to the UK in 2004. Madame Mephisto is her first novel and was among readers recommendations to the Guardian First Book Award. She is the first Polish woman to publish a novel in English since Poland joined EU in 2004. A.M. Bakalar lives with her partner, a drum and bass musician, in London. She is currently at work on her second novel.

Grażyna Plebanek is a writer, author of best-selling novels “Illegal Liaisons” (Strok Press 2012), named “Best of 2012″ by These Little Words. She also wrote “Girls from Portofino” (WAB 2005) as well as “Box of Stilettos” (2002, WAB 2006) and “A Girl Called Przystupa”. She is the author of short stories published in the following anthologies: “Dziewczynskie bajki na dobranoc” (Girls’ good-night stories, AMEA 2008), “Zaraz wracam” (Back shortly, Centrum Kultury Zamek, 2008), “Projekt mezczyzna (Project Man, wydawnictwo Delikatesy, 2009), “Piatek, 2:45″ (Friday, 2:45, Filar 2010), “Whims” (Swiat Ksiazki 2012). Born in Warsaw, Plebanek has lived for five years in Stockholm and she now resides in Brussels. She is among a group of international artists whose portraits will be exhibited in Brussels Gare del’Ouest for the next 10 years.

13 March, 2013: Irit Rogoff and Joanna Rajkowska

The Introduction to the Seminar (March 13, 2013)

Seminar 1_ Irit Rogoff and Joanna Rajkowska

Event 1:
UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies / eMigrating Landcapes Project

invites you for a lecture

Exhausted Geographies
Irit Rogoff

Discussion afterword will be held by Joanna Rajkowska

Wednesday 13 March 2013, 5-7 pm.

Room Senior Common Room, 4th floor

UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies
16 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW

For further details please contact: u.chowaniec@ucl.ac.uk

About the lecture:

Like the structure of language that relies on negative differentiation so does cartography rely of division and navigation. Derrida’s statement that “Boundaries, whether narrow or expanded are nothing more that the limits of the possible” exemplifies this perception of national geographies.
Geography is knowledge – who we are, where we are – what our heritages and allegiances are – has always been linked to geography. The proposed concept of ‘exhausted geographies’ is a concept that is trying to work against the grain of both the boundaries of the possible and of location as the site of identity and knowledge.

Irit Rogoff is a writer, curator, and organizer working at the intersection of contemporary art, critical theory, and emergent political manifestations. She is Professor of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, London University where she heads the PhD in Curatorial/Knowledge program and the MA in Global Arts program. Rogoff has written extensively on geography, globalization, and contemporary participatory practices in the expanded field of art. A collection of recent essays, Unbounded—Limits’ Possibilities, is published in 2012 with e-flux journal/ Sternberg and her new book, Looking Away—Participating Singularities, Ontological Communities, comes out in 2013. Rogoff lives and works in London.