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- Coming Out Polish Style
“Coming Out Polish Style” is a unique documentary by Slawomir Grunberg and Katka Reszke which offers a rare look into the lives of gays and lesbians in contemporary Poland. The documentary explores the issue of gay and lesbian rights in a conservative society, which is undergoing a very dynamic transformation, allowing for more and more successful liberal changes. The documentary investigates the diverse and complex identity struggles involved in the process of ‘coming out.’ The filmmakers turn to Polish celebrities who are openly gay as well as follow young people from small towns who are still in the process of ‘coming out’, Grunberg and Reszke also register an interesting migrating phenomenon of gays and lesbians from peripheries of Poland emigrating to Warsaw as an open and gay-friendly place to live, the issue we would like to take further during our panel discussion at University College London with Dr Richard Mole and Prof Anne White, whilst debating gay and lesbian migration from Poland to the United Kingdom motivated by homophobia.
- Coming Out PS & Floating Skyscrapers as part of Play OUT
Play OUT has been created to promote queer culture, further discussion about the importance of queer culture in arts and society and issues close toLGBTQ communities. At Play OUT we aim to be inclusive, open and as wonderfully queer as we can and want to!
Given the societal and political situation in Poland, we have chosen to launch our project alongside Play Poland Film Festival in London this year in bid to support Polish LGBTQ filmmakers as well as London based Polish LGBTQ communities, filmmakers and artists!
As part of Play OUT’s programme at Play Poland Film Festival in London this year, we are proud to present two events:
* The screening of the first openly gay feature “Floating Skyscrapers” by Tomasz Wasilewski, award-winning coming out drama about the aspiring swimmer Kuba who, in order to come to terms with his own feelings, needs to break away from confinements of his home and training routine as well as a relationship with his girlfriend, Sylwia. The film is showing as part of OUT at Clapham, a monthly LGBTQ film club at Clapham Picturehouse, on the 30th October at 6.30pm.
* The screening of the extraordinary documentary “Coming Out Polish Style”, exploring gay and lesbian identities in contemporary Poland, from portraits of liberated Warsaw with the prevailing gay-friendly atmosphere and a growing LGBTQ community, through openly gay Polish celebrities to the lives of those in peripheries and their struggles coming out in the very conservative, Catholic society.
The film will be followed by a panel discussion with Dr Richard Mole and Prof Anne White which will take the issues raised in the film further to include and explore the migration of Polish LGBTQ individuals to the United Kingdom, motivated by homophobia.
With these two events launching Play OUT, we are hoping to embark on many more queer adventures in the future, furthering debates relevant to LGBTQ communities, promoting queer art & culture and creating an open platform for LGBTQ communities to come together!
Why Polish Language? Why Polish Summer School? Why Spend Summer in Poland?
come for a discussion and sharing experience over a glass of wine
31st of October at 4 pm
at UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, room 432
16 Taviton Street London WC1H 0BW (Bloomsbury Campus)
Within the program: Presentation by Hannah Phillips (a participant of the 2014 Summer School), discussion and sharing experinces as well as a small reception afterward.
What is Angelus Silesius House (ASH)?
The ASH is a non-governmental education and training centre. It sees itself as a meeting place for personal and professional development as it works with young people from various religious backgrounds, nationalities and cultures. There are many ways in which you can get involved. As an NGO they work locally with young people in Poland that have had a difficult start in life, running short-term and long-term schemes which vary across the year. They also work with foreign students in and out of Poland. Their summer school project aims to promote Polish language and culture whilst breaking down embedded prejudices and stereotypes associated with Poland. Their summer school only lasted 10 days this year, so for those of you who are looking for something more long-term they also provide voluntary services. Since 2001 they have taken part in the European Voluntary Service (EVS) programme, which runs projects that can last between 2 to 12 months. In this way, you can develop your language skills, gain insider knowledge on the inner workings of NGOs and gain a new qualification. In all of their projects, including the voluntary service, participants receive free accommodation, food, insurance and pocket money. The only thing you might have to pay is a small part of your travel costs. All of this is on their website. To best illustrate this organisation’s work and the opportunities it offer, I will guide you through some of the activities they arranged whilst I was participating in their summer school project. (Hannah Phillips)
Opinion of Klaudia Konkolova (a participant of 2014 Summer School):
Between 10th– 20th September, 2014 I had the chance to participate in a wonderful project: Szkoła letnia z Polską II in the beautiful historic city of Wrocław. The project was co-funded by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerstwo Spraw Zagranicznych) and organised by the Dom Spotkań im. Angelusa Silesiusa. 23 students studying Polish language from different partner universities all over Europe were given the opportunity to discover Polish culture from within and improve their language skills by attending professionally taught language classes and communicating with each other and the Polish organisers in Polish. The language skills improvement is not the only positive achievement we will be bringing home. The visits organised at different important institutions based in Wrocław gave us an insightful look into the contemporary situation in Poland, the lecture by the famous Polish language specialist prof. Jan Miódek made us appreciate more that even though in Europe we speak so many different languages, at the heart we all belong into one Indo-European group*, we visited the vibrant city of Łodź over the weekend, and even got a first-hand experience in film-making! The accommodation and food was provided for. Even up to 70% of the travel expenses were covered by the organisation. It is a pity, we only had ten days for uncovering the marvels of Polish cuisine, which is really savoury and manifold. Personally, I would be up for trying out of a new type of pierogi andzapiekanka every day. Last but not least, the people participating on the project were all very friendly, open, tolerant and keen on meeting new people and getting to know them better and making friends with them was perhaps the most valuable outcome from the whole project. *With the exception of Finnish, Hungarian, and Estonian, which belong to the Finno-Ugric group.
On the 7th of February eMigrating Landscapes Project hosted Grzegorz Wróblewski and Friends (Marcus Slease, Adam Zdrodowski and Piotr Gwiazda). The discussion focused on the recent poetry book by Grzegorz on migration, displacement and the experience of being a foreigner – Kopenhaga (translated by Piotr Gwiazda).
It was a final seminar of the 8 seminars planned for the first series of eML seminars run from march 2013 to February 2014. It was an amazing year with a lot of discussions, enthusiasm and energy from all engaged in eML Project. We wish to thank everybody, all the participants, fantastic writers and poets, academics, translators for being there for us. Most of all, we thank all the participants and funs for joining us with this adventure!
Thanks and follow us here, on the wen and of Facebook
On Saturday, 8 February, 2014, we celebrated the year of discussion the “migrating landscapes” at Rix Mix within Steven Fowler project (Wrogowie/Enemies), where 6 pairs of Polish and British poets read their collaborative work. Have a look at the video report at You Tube:
A woman’s story with no “else”
1. Starting from someone´s else review….
Let´s start from the motto of the collection: We either live life or we write it (Luigi Pirandello) and from the review of Wioletta Grzegorzewska´s poetry written by the Polish critic, Karol Maliszewski. He disagreed with Pirandello´s quote in his review (published as the afterword of the collection). The critic insists that these two spheres, the need for narration and for live experience, so to speak, can be and should be allied (“Mediation is more my thing, the art of patient synthesis”, says the critic, adding that – according to him – it is also a crucial element of Grzegorzewska´s “poetic focus”).
The synthesis and mediation, aurea mediocritas, the golden mean, is always a good move, a safe move: you avoid extremes. But is it a good point to make as far as Grzegorzewska’s poetry is concerned? I would choose to disagree and will outline my reasons for doing so in due course.
I have another problem with Karol Maliszewski´s review – its title: A Womans´ Life and Else (of course, the title itself is also an intertext with the second motto of the book: Motto from Stefan Zweig´s short story – 24 godziny z życia kobiety / 24 hours in the life of a woman). This ”else” is also a safe form of play – just in case, when the life of a woman is not enough, somehow too limited, too hermetic, not enough for poetry that seems to be more universal (or a man´s) thing…. My question is: does Grzegorzewska really needs this “else”?
Let us attempt to answer those two questions:
I started this presentation with a slight deconstruction of the review by Karol Maliszewski. I do not want to argue against it, criticize it, rather wish to use it as a preliminary point, seeing as it is always easy to start with showing the other´s mistakes… Yet, I believe that the above mentioned review somehow overlooked Grzegorzewska´s own “poetic focus”: which – as I see it – is a poetic world that magically transforms reality into verses; names live experiences and closes them into the fascinating building blocks of language, thus keeping the experiences in a poetic timeless space. But this kind of writing requires the giving up of life, along with the locking up in the small space between one´s imagination and the piece of paper (computer screen). Writing requires life´s experiences to come and pass, they need to be behind and only then can one put them into words, and perhaps only then, while named and described, do they become real. If we look for life in Grzegorzewska´s (or any other) poetry, we will find it in memory, and this memory seems to be more complete and cruelly precise then life itself.
Wszystkie wieczory swiata
Pierwszy samotny wieczor na poddaszu,
Niewyrazny jak biala cerkiew za oknem.
W podbrzuszu niose przezroczyste kielki
I strach, ktory trzeba uciszyc postinorem.
We either live or write, we either feel or name, we either let go or keep everything that life brings in the exact and harsh reality of language.
And these “eithers”, rather than the synthesis, are true in Grzegorzewska’s case!
She takes us back to the memories of her childhood, travelling, friendship, emigrations, and they all appear to be locked in magical lexicons, distancing us from life, naming emotions, exposing circumstances and revealing secrets that can never be captured in life, because they require time for reflections. I believe that Grzegorzewska’s quoting of Piradello was intended to stress this distance, the reflections which separate life and writing, which make creation such a solitary pursuit, and not a work of synthesis. Mainly because this form of synthesis is in essence impossible…
Another thing which also occurs to me while reading Maliszewski´s review is the following: why does a woman´s life require something “else” for it to be worthwhile? Is it because the “shopping, looking for a place to live and putting kids to sleep” is not enough? Does a woman´s poetry need something else, just as a woman needs ¨from time to time” the poetic salvation from her world (a woman´s 24/7s)? Is it because poetic moments cannot be constantly present in a woman´s mundane life, that they come as something “else”, a little magic extra? Don´t they seem like an unexpected guest, perhaps like a prince on the white horse? This “else¨ frankly sounds like a man´s blessing (syllogism here works as follows: this poetry is all about a woman´s experience but it is good anyway, since it is good, it has to be about something else. As if only this “else” can make it worthy).
And again, forgive me my maliciousness, it is a rhetorical device – just for the sake of argument, but…
I believe that Grzegorzewska´s poetry needs no else. Smena´s memory is a complete work of poetry; it is all about a woman´s memory, a woman´s experience. It is “woman´s” not in the essentialist understanding of this word but woman´s because the author happens to be a woman, she was brought up as a woman, treated as a woman, thought to be one…. She sees the world as a daughter, a girl, a girlfriend, amother, a lover to a man… and these make her poetry multidimensional, exciting, fascinating and ultimately complete.
4. To write is to retreat from life towards the land of memory…
The collection we are presented with today is about memory – memory kept by the old camera, a Soviet Smena, and memory kept by a woman, a girl, a daughter, a mother, the poetic persona, Grzegorzewska inscribed in the verses. And the lyrical persona, Grzegorzewska from the book, takes us on an amazing journey via the world of a provincial childhood. Here I enumerate a few elements of the poetic landscape of this book:
The communist period in Polish history;
Experiences of emigration;
Alienations from the family;
And many other…
Grzegorzewska possesses the ability to see things in such a sharp way that it leaves the reader astonished by the accuracy and innovation of associations. Grzegorzewska is ironic, humorous, sarcastic and lyrical: sometimes cruel in exposing the facts of life, sometimes funny and whimsical, always inventive in her linguistic choices, but overall profoundly successful in juxtaposing the grey and poetic elements of every day’s life with the painstakingly particular naming and sketching of her poetic landscape.
March 2012- May 2013