Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Special Issue Devoted to Contemporary Polish and Polish-American Poetry

When I first started writing poems in grad school at Purdue about my parents and their experiences in Germany during the war and in America after the war, I felt like I was the only one writing in America about Poles and Polish Americans. I asked the professors in my English Department, and they shrugged. I asked other students, and they hadn't heard about any Polish-American writers either. I went to the library and found nothing.

Over the years, I would hear about a poet here or a novelist there who wrote about the Polish Diaspora, and I would track these writers down, and slowly I began to realize that I wasn't the only one writing about the Polish Diaspora. There were, in fact, a lot of us, and the number just grows and grows as the celebration of Polish Diaspora writing in the journal Kritya suggests.

I hope that this celebration helps to continue the dialogue that has started among these writers.

Why is such a dialogue important?

The answer is quite simple and can be stated plainly.

One of poetry's elemental functions is to discover and preserve national and/or group identity. If you want to find out about the Greeks, you read Homer. If you want to find out about the English you read Chaucer and Shakespeare. If you want to find out about the Americans, you read Whitman or Emerson or Emily Dickinson. If you want to learn about the Poles, you read Milosz or Szymborska or Rosewicz.

And if you want to find out about Polish Diaspora culture, you should read Polish Diaspora poets, writers like the ones featured in the April and May issues of Kritya.


The April issues includes poems by the following poets:

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

Peter Burzynski

Mary Krane Derr

Jehanne Dubrow

Linda Nemec Foster

John Guzlowski

Maria Jastrzebska

Leonard Kress

Krystyna Lenkowska

Stephen Lewandowski

Colleen McKee

Anna Maria Mickiewicz

David Radavich

Laurie A. Gomulka Palazzolo

Christina Pacosz

Lisa L. Siedlarz

Lillian Vallee

Andrena Zawinsksi


Both issues are guest edited by Christina Pacosz and John Guzlowski. Rati Saxena edits Kritya.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Polish-American Writers Reading at the Polish Museum of America

On February 12, 2009, The Polish Museum of America hosted a reading by five Polish American writers: Anthony Bukoski, Linda Nemec Foster, John Minczeski, Leslie Pietrzyk, and me.

The event was a powerful emotional experience for all of us. Speaking for myself, I know that it's not often that I have the opportunity to read to an audience of people who share my Polish heritage, and when I do such readings, I always feel a strong connection that is hard to explain. It's a connection that goes beyond words (whether Polish or English), beyond present circumstances, and beyond borders.

Shortly after the reading, Maria Ciesla, the President of The Polish Museum of America, sent me a note that conveys what, I believe, both the readers and the audience felt that night:

Thank you so much for your successful efforts, and please convey my sincere thanks to Linda, Leslie, John, and Anthony. Guests present are still commenting to me about the uniqueness and artistic fullness of the evening. This was a new and magical event for the PMA, and I can assure you it will not be the last. Despite my being transfixed, I glanced around the Hall and observed the same.

To me personally, your writings parallel so much of my own experience, even though our family did not remain in Chicago's Polonia. Driving home, I blessed and thanked my parents even more than in the past!


To find out more about the readers who read at the Polish Museum, please double click on their names:

Anthony Bukoski has published five story collections, four with Southern Methodist University Press, including North of the Port and Time Between Trains. Holy Cow! Press recently reissued his first book, Twelve Below Zero, in a new and expanded edition. A Christopher Isherwood Foundation fellowship winner, Bukoski teaches English at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Linda Nemec Foster is the author of eight collections of poetry including Amber Necklace from Gdansk (LSU Press), Listen to the Landscape (Eerdmans Publishing), Ten Songs from Bulgaria (Cervena Barva Press). She has received honors from the Academy of American Poets, the National Writer's Voice, and the Polish American Historical Association. She is the founder of the Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College and currently is a member of the Series' programming committee.

John Guzlowski writes poems about his family's experiences in the Nazi concentration camps. His most recent books are Lightning and Ashes and the Pulitzer-nominated Third Winter of War: Buchenwald. His unpublished novel about German soldiers on the Eastern Front has recently been short-listed for the Bakeless Literary Award.

John Minczeski’s books of poetry include Letter to Serafin (Akron University Press), November (Finishing Line Press), Circle Routes (Akron University Press), Gravity (Texas Tech). He's the winner of the Akron Poetry Prize, a Bush Fellowship, and an NEA fellowship among other prizes. He freelances as a poet in the schools and does occasional adjunct work.

Leslie Pietrzyk is the author of two novels: Pears on a Willow Tree (Avon Books) and A Year and a Day (William Morrow). She teaches at Johns Hopkins and has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf and the Sewanee Writers’ Conferences. She is currently writing a novel about Polish immigrants in Chicago.


The photo above was taken by Maria Zakrzewska.

Back row from left to right:

John Guzlowski, Anthony Bukoski, Maria Ciesla (PMA President), John Minczeski, Linda Nemec Foster, Leslie Pietrzyk, Jan Lorys (PMA Director).

Front row from left to right:

Malgorzata Kot, Head Librarian at the Polish Museum, Krystyna Grell, librarian.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chopin in Poetry: A Call for Submissions

Maja Trochimczyk of Moonrise Press is editing an anthology of contemporary poetry on Chopin. The anthology will be published in March of 2010 to honor the 200th Anniversary of Chopin’s Birth.

Here are the particulars:


§ Original poetry about any aspect of music and life of Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849), Polish pianist and composer

§ Deadline – August 1, 2009

§ Language – English

§ Length – maximum 39 lines per poem, 3 poems

§ Format – email the poems to majat(at)verizon.net [replace (at) with @]
with the poem both in the body of the message and attachment in MS Word or rtf

§ Address and contact information of the author included in the body of the message


1. The book will be published by Moonrise Press, with an ISBN number.

2. The authors will retain individual copyright, granting permission to print in the anthology only.

3. The book will be distributed by online print-on-demand company and available through a network of partners, including Bowkers Books in Print, lulu.com, Amazon, etc.

4. The authors will receive an off-print of their submission, and a 30% discount on the book price.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Cosmopolitan Review

I just heard about a new online magazine that focuses on Polish and Polish Diaspora culture, politics, literature, and history. The magazine is called The Cosmopolitan Review, and it's edited by Kinia Adamczyk, Judith Browne, and Irene Tomaszewski. This project grows out of their committment to the Poland in the Rockies organization.

Here's a note I received from Irene Tomaszewski about the magazine:

"Cosmopolitanreview.com is a very young publication -- this is only our second issue. . . . We are open to proposals: poetry, feature articles, profiles of cities, profiles of interesting people. If you've had the time to look through it, you will note that our policy is to be inclusive. Poles without borders, Poles without outmoded ideas of class distinctions, Poles who speak Polish and Poles who don't, and anyone else who is interested in the Polish story."

The current issue has articles about the importance of Lech Walesa and traveling in Poland, poetry by Judith Browne and Marta Dabros, reviews of books by Polish Diaspora writers, and much much more. Take a look.

Here's the link: http://cosmopolitanreview.com