Poland has been commemorating anniversaries all year and those of us observing from a distance have shared in the country’s happiness. True, some of those anniversaries mark events that were far from happy, but now they are not only far in the past but also signify a remarkable endurance and resilience.
To share this joy, CR’s own Justine Jablonska put together a photo essay illustrating these significant dates with selected personalities from the arts, letters and politics of this successful country. We also invited Andrew Nagorski to say a few words, which he does with elegance and affection. And we have musicians from Wawel (left) for a rousing chorus of Sto lat!
But as faithful readers all know, CR’s Poland is wherever there are Poles, and we hope our British friends forgive us if the sun never sets on us for a change. This issue, we write about Poles in Africa from the perspective of people who cherish the memory of their enchanted childhood, complete with an escape from the clutches of a monster. They hold regular reunions in Wrocław. A refugees’ reunion, you ask? It’s a psychological and social phenomenon Amanda Chalupa feels compelled to study.
About the same time that Polish kids frolicked with boa constrictors in Africa, Polish cabaret stars entertained Polish troops serving in the Polish II Corps under General Władysław Anders. Beth Holmgren, who has made interwar cabaret her own, introduces us to some very talented people as The Cabaret Goes to War.
Whatever has been said about the long communist era, artists find a way. Justine Jablonksa reviews Eric Bednarski’s beautiful film about dreamy neon signs created in a system that never delivered the goods that were advertised. A bit surreal? Tune in to the conversation.
Still with films, Małgorzata Dzieduszycka casts a sensitive eye on Jan Komasa’s MIASTO 44 and on Warsaw Uprising. There will never be a last word on this event, nor could it be otherwise.
Ben Paloff muses on the poet laureate of the wartime generation, Krzysztof Baczyński. Is he, as Magda Romańska suggested, “Bob Dylan, William Shakespeare, Pablo Neruda and James Dean rolled into one,” or is he more like Keats, or maybe Marcel Proust?
We move on to the 2nd largest Polish city in the world, Chicago, specifically Stuart Dybek’s Chicago. Agnieszka Tworek explores this gifted writer’s perceptive and sympathetic stories about the gritty immigrant neighborhood of Chicago, and has a few questions for the award-winning author as well.
We are pleased to have another review by the young Toronto-based historian, Michał Kasprzak, whose great writing could upstage the authors under discussion. But with consummate skill, he instead seduces people to read – and maybe even buy! – the book. In this case it is the new history of modern Poland by Brian Porter-Szűcs who examined Poland and came up with a startling diagnosis: Poles are normal people, just like everybody else. Some of us have long suspected as much but were waiting for a professional confirmation. Kasprzak will fill you in.
And we end with a fitting finale. Pomp, history, great plans and good feelings fill Martin Grzadka’s account of Canada’s first state visit to Poland. Yes, much business was discussed but the warm bilateral relations were the icing on the cake for a young professional proud to be a citizen of both countries.
Before we go, we invite you to look at our About Us page, where we introduce our stellar cast of Contributing Editors. We look forward to an exciting 2015.