2017 Vol. 9 No. 1—Spring / Commentary

Poland in the Rockies: Looking back

Poland in the Rockies? Yes, and from there to wherever English-speaking Poles live, via Cosmopolitan Review.

In this, our final, farewell issue we want to go back to the beginning when a young lawyer in Calgary had not only a brilliant idea but also the drive and energy to make the idea a reality. Tony Muszynski wanted to create a Polish Studies symposium just like the one he would have wanted to attend when he was a student: young people of Polish background from across North America gathered together in the magnificent Canadian Rockies for a 10-day discussion about “things Polish,” in English, in the company of brilliant, engaging, authoritative speakers. With a little help from Irene Tomaszewski, and lots of generous volunteers, he made it happen.

Norman Davies, accordionist

Who can forget the first one? Norman Davies flew in from Oxford, Tamara Trojanowska from Toronto, “translator extraordinaire” Bill Johnston from Indiana, and Anna Cienciala from Kansas, while Krzysztof Zanussi, from Poland, admitted he had never seen anything like it in any of his encounters with Polonia. A demanding series of lectures, discussions and film, then dancing by the light of a campfire to music provided by Professor Davies on his accordion: yes, all that.

Another year, Professors Robert Frost and Karin Friedrich from the University of Aberdeen, and Bill Johnston (a perennial), none of them Polish yet all engaged in an animated discussion by the campfire, in Polish. And so many others. John Bukowczyk, Piotr Wróbel, Lynn Lubamersky, Andrew Nagorski, and Politika journalist Adam Szostkiewicz who said, “This is the first time I’ve ever been in the company of 50 Poles and all of them are happy!” A few of them even fell in love, and married.

That was the atmosphere that inspired one student, Kinia Adamczyk, to create something that would connect everybody no matter where they all were. A newsletter? Well, that first newsletter turned into a review, edited by Kinia, Irene Tomaszewski and student Judith Browne who helped out from her distant home in Capetown, South Africa.

Along the way Justine Jablonska joined in and apart from writing also donated her professional skills to give it the sleek and lovely look it now has. Maureen Mroczek Morris transitioned from ardent admirer to active collaborator. And from Day One, the website was generously hosted by the brilliant Kowalczewski brothers, Antek and Jan.

In 2015 CR welcomed eight Contributing Editors, some of whom had already contributed great articles: Magda Romanska on growing up in pre-1989 Poland as well as brilliant pieces on Polish theatre and opera; Beth Holmgren on Polish cabaret – both prewar and during the war; George Gasyna’s riveting review of a riveting book by Marek Hlasko; Anna Mazurkiewicz on the importance of compromise (a message for our time?). And who can forget Patrice Dabrowski’s enticing review of a book about Polish mountain climbers and the only English-language biography of Piłsudski written by an American scientist who put his considerable research skills to work on a major, yet neglected, figure in history.

It’s been an exciting 8-year run and although we naturally feel a bit melancholy assembling this final issue, we also, quite naturally, take pride in the work, pleasure in all the wonderful friends we have made over the years, both among our contributors and our many and scattered readers. And we hold out some hope that someday, someone else, will rise up to the challenge of publishing a periodical devoted to “things Polish,” in English, with articles and reviews by knowledgeable writers but aimed at educated readers who are not necessarily specialists in the academic field of Polish Studies.

We extend our thanks to all who helped, some with donations – listed in our About Us page, others with contacts, encouragement and just plain enthusiasm. Special thanks here to Małgorzata Bonikowska and Tomek Kniat who stepped in to help and made our final year possible. They too have a great interest in “things Polish” in English and you can listen to their podcast, featuring interviews with interesting people from Poland – or people with an interest in Poland.

And now, Farewell, but the CR doors will remain open. New people continue to drop by, as do many constant readers, coming by for a second helping.

Sto lat, everybody, and so long… it’s been good to know you.


CR publishes book + film reviews, interviews, profiles and more. All with a Polish slant, in English.
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