Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ginsberg vs. Bukowski: The Main Event

Janusz Zalewski (translator, computer scientist, literary historian, lover of the Beats) was invited by Polish actor Andrzej Seweryn to write a script for a poetry reading called "Ginsberg contra Bukowski."

The show will be produced by the Poetry Salon on the main stage of Teatr Polski in Warsaw on November 25.


The reading is configured as an 8-10 round boxing match,where each round consists of a reading of a poem by each poet on a specific subject.  The topics include:

- Germany
- Humankind
- Dostoevsky
- Classical Poets
- Men
- Women
- Technology
- Isolation
- Other poets on Ginsberg and Bukowski.

Poems will be read by two popular Polish singers:  KORA and Marek Dyjak.

The referees for the boxing match are Prof. Jerzy Bralczyk, a famous Polish linguist, and poet Bohdan Zadura, (Editor-in-Chief of "Tworczosc," the premier Polish literary magazine since 1946).

The master of ceremonies is Kamil Sipowicz, poet, painter, and philosopher (PhD on Heidegger):  

For more information please consult the Teatr Polski website:


The poster for the event was designed by Marek Zalewski.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Call for Essays by Immigrant Poets

Black Lawrence Press is now accepting submissions for an anthology of essays by immigrant poets in America, celebrating their contributions to the landscape of American poetry. The title, Others Will Enter the Gates, is taken from Walt Whitman's poem, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry".

Immigrant poets living in the United States are invited to submit essays of between 700-5000 words for the anthology. Poets can address one of four themes in their essays:

1) Influence(s)
2) How the poet's work fits within the American poetic tradition
3) How the poet's work fits within the poetic tradition of his/her home country and
4) What it means to be a poet in America.

Essays can be creative or academic. However, essays need to be accessible since the anthology is also for a general audience.

Abayomi Animashaun, Nigerian émigré and author of The Giving of Pears, will serve as editor. Questions? You may contact him at at)>.

Submissions will be accepted via Submittable:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Wall and Beyond by Joanna Kurowska

Joanna Kurowska

Joanna Kurowska's newest collection of poems consists of works that were originally written in Polish and published in her native land.  The poems, as the title suggests, deal with the image of the wall, the obstacle.  When I asked her about this she said, "As the title suggests, my recurring motif is 'the wall.' It reflects the confrontation between dreams and reality; a sense of estrangement following my immigration to the US in 1988; finally, my struggle with the idea of God against the experience of religion and world’s theodicy.  Probing the wall’s nature, I come to realization that the wall is part of human nature. Ultimately, I strive to affirm life; to reach beyond the wall."

Here is one of the poems from this book.  

Joseph Conrad (for Don Marshall)

In a broken jar, the sea leaks through the cracks.
Sailors despair; nothing rocks them anymore.
The gristmill of time changes aquatic plants,
fish, prayers, and people, into yellow sand.

In a mirror, love watches its image—fright.
Their glances—a bridge stretching into the dark.
A rainbow of faces flicker in the glass;
one of them is yours but you don’t know which one.

The spirit hiding in life’s seashell is pain.
He is the god-figure that opens the door
and takes you to the earth’s heart and the hand’s palm
where long-forgotten sources flow over stones.

The following is a more recent poem which Ms. Kurowska wrote in English: 


I loved cupboards
—the little spaces in which
I arranged packages of tea
ceramic mugs, saucers,
and fine china

I loved the secrecy
and the mellow smell
of the woody interiors
superbly designed
yet subject to change

I thought they would
never let me down—
my small eternities;
but they too go away
one after another

For all the tea and fine china,
they refuse to contain me
When I open the little doors
I hear a silent good-bye
ringing in my thoughts

(both poems originially appeared in Apple Valley Review


Joanna Kurowska has published poetry in Apple Valley ReviewBateauChristianity and LiteratureInternational Poetry Review, Oklahoma ReviewPenwood ReviewRoomSolo Novo, and elsewhere. Her poetry collection Inclusions is forthcoming from Červená Barva Press.  Previously, Joanna published two books of poetry in Poland (Ściana : The Wall, 1997; and Obok : Near, 1999). 

She holds a doctorate in literature from the University of Illinois at Chicago (2007) and her critical works appeared in Anglican Theological ReviewThe Conradian (forthcoming); Joseph Conrad TodayNewPages, Sarmatian ReviewSlavic and East European Journal, and elsewhere. She has taught at American universities, including the University of Chicago and, most recently, Indiana University, Bloomington IN.

Here are some links to other poems she's written:

-Joanna's facebook page:

-Apple Valley Review, Fall 2011: 
-Write From Wrong (December 2010):
-Strong Verse (October 2010):


Her book The Wall and Beyond is available from eLectio Publishing and Amazon.  (Click on the links to purchase)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tatra Highlander Folk Culture in Poland and America

Growing up in a Polish neighborhood in Chicago, I  heard a lot about the people of the Tatra Highlands, the Górals; and sadly much that I heard was disparaging.  My neighbors were mostly from the north and east of Poland, and they felt that only the Poles from those region were true Poles.  According to them, the Górals  were uncouth, uneducated, and unwashed.  (Interestingly, my neighbors also didn't have much good to say about the people of Warsaw!  But that's another story.)

Thaddeus Gromada, a retired professor of European History and one of the great authorities on Tatra Highlander culture, has written a book that sets the record straight on the Górals.

The book consists of a series of short, very readable essays on the people of the highlands, their history and their ways and what happened to them when they came to America.  A number of these essays talk about Prof. Gromada's own roots in the highland.

I was especially interested in the memoiristic pieces about growing up in a Polish American home where the old traditions were still carried on.  

And I'm not the only one who likes the book.  Here's a blurb from Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Advisor.

A sentimental and illuminating collection of insights about  a unique mountain region of Poland which pulsates with invigorating mountain air, native patriotism, regional culture, distinctive traditions, and physical beauty characteristic both if its landscape and of its people.  Engaging to read, educational to absorb, it is the product of genuine scholarship and personal affection on part of its editor, a distinguished Polish-American educator with deep family roots in the Tatra Highlands.”


About the author

Thaddeus V. Gromada received his Ph.D. in East Central European History at Fordham University. He is currently Professor Emeritus of European History at New Jersey City University.  From 1991 to 2011 he served as Executive Director of the Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences of America (PIASA) and from 2008 to 2011 was also its President.  Editor and contributor of several books and author of many articles in scholarly journals dealing with Polish-Czech-Slovak relations, Immigration and Ethnic History of the U.S., and Polish Tatra folk culture. He is the founder and co-editor with his sister Jane Gromada Kedron of The Tatra Eagle (Tatrzański Orzeł). Elected honorary member of the Związek Podhalan (Highlanders Alliance) in Poland as well as in America. In 2000 he received the Commanders Cross of Merit from the President of Poland

Order books at 30% discount directly from Tatra Eagle Press: 31 Madison Ave, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604.  Sale price:  $10. Plus $2.50  Total; $12.50. Make checks payable to “Tatra Eagle Press”   Tel. 201 288-3815 or 336-940-5656 
Ship to: __________________________________________________________________________
Tel._____________________   E mail ________________

The book is also available through Amazon.  Click here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Polish Social: New Polish Webzine

I received the following today regarding a new Polish webzine:

A new Polish Webzine/Weekly Newsletter has launched in Chicago

 Here is a little about Polish Social:
 Polish Social is the brainchild of two Chicago women with a commitment
 to community, a pulse on Chicago ’s art & culture scenes, and a belief
 in the power of networking and organizing. We will link you to events,
 job opportunities, innovators in disparate fields; we will provide you
 with news of interest to a new generation of Polish Chicagoans.
 Professional and integrated into the larger Chicago community, our
 readers are shaping a new network of leaders.

 Being Polish in Chicago is sort of a tale of two cities – in one (the
collection of Polish communities that dot this city), there is a
 strong culturally Polish identity, in the other (the city of Chicago
 as a whole), there is an opportunity for Poles from all fields to step
 into leadership positions and showcase the Polish community as a
 vibrant and essential part of this city’s fabric.

 We hope you can subscribe to the site via the home page subscription
 icon on the left or you can send an email to

 If you have events or items for the editorial team to cover please
 send that information to

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Call for Submissions: Immigrant Stories

German-American writer Ursula Hegi, author of the excellent novel Stones from the River, is editing an anthology of fiction by immigrant writers.  Here's the official call.  

Call for Submission: Second Voice Anthology

Second Voice offers three literary prizes, $1,000, $500, and $250, for fiction by immigrants who write in English but grew up within another language and culture. We are interested in short stories and novel excerpts of 7,000 words or less from established and new writers. 

Submissions are free and can be posted at under the anthology link.

The anthology is edited by bicultural writer Ursula Hegi, author of Tearing The Silence: On Being German in America and a PEN/Faulkner winner.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Misteria Czasu by Jolanta Wróbel-Best

One of the most interesting Polish writers of the turn of the last century was Taduesz Miciński (1873-1918). He was part poet, part mystic, and part advocate of the Polish soul.  He anticipated the ideas of Expressionism and Surrealism in Polish literature.  W mrokach zlotego palacu, czyli Bazilissa Teofanu (In the Darkness of the Golden Palace or Bazilissa Teofanu) is regarded as one of the best artistic works by Micinski (1909).

Scholar Jolanta Wróbel-Best's study of his philosophy and works and their relationship to Henri Bergson's metaphysics will surely increase Miciński's reputation.

Here's a brief description of Professor Wróbel-Best's book:

Misteria czasu.  Problematyka temporalna Taduesza Micińskiego (The Mystery of Time.  The Idea of Temporality by Tadeusz Micinski) by Jolanta Wróbel-Best, Kraków: Universitas Publishing House, 2012 (In Polish).

This interdisciplinary book connects philosophy and literature, and it is composed of two supplementary parts. The first part includes six analytical chapters debating various ways of creating concrete poetical images of time in the Polish/European literature of the XIX/XX centuries.  The second, synthetic part exposes the union between Tadeusz Micinski's (1873-1918) concept of time and Henri Bergson's (1859-1941) metaphysics

The book examines time in a preliminary way as a thematic category (according to the definition of Jean-Paul Richard, a representative of the school of French thematic critique).  This examination leads to the philosophy of time which is closely related to Bergson’s ideas of the heterogeneous duration and intuition.  Thus, time will be tightly connected with the bearings of memory, mind, soul or self, and the endurance of “elan vital.”  It also introduces the issues of anthropology.  In conclusion, the book probes Bergson’s impact on European literary (post)modernity.  In addition, it formulates a fundamental question: “Does Bergsonism exist in the Polish symbolic drama of the XIX/XX centuries?”

The book is available through the publisher.  Click here.  


Jolanta Wrobel Best received her PhD in the Humanities (Literature, Philosophy) from the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland, and subsequently served as an assistant professor there.  Her current experience includes a faculty appointment at Houston Community College in Houston, Texas, a correspondent position for CKCU Literary News at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and cooperation with "Ruch Literacki" of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Cracow, Poland.  She is the author of a book and about twenty scholarly articles.  Works in progress include a book on comparative literature and a book on Levinas’s philosophy.  She participates in academic societies such as the American Philosophical Association (APA), the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), the International Institute for Hermeneutics (IIH), and the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America (PIASA).  In November, she is scheduled to present her paper on Polish literature and the history of ideas as well as to chair a panel discussion on Slavic studies at the 2012 ASEEES Convention in New Orleans, LA.  She appears in the 2012 Edition of Who's Who in America by Marquis. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Steel Toe Books Open Reading Period

My collection Lightning and Ashes was published by Steel Toe Books, and I can't imagine a better press for anyone looking for a publisher. Really, I recommend Steel Toe to everyone I can.

Tom Hunley, the editor, is first-rate.

Here's his call for submissions.  (By the way, submitting is free.  You just have to buy one of the books Steel Toe has published.)



September/October Open Reading Period

Steel Toe Books is reading full-length poetry manuscripts during the months of September and October 2012. This is open to any poets, whether or not they have previously published books. We plan to extend a standard royalties contract, including a $500 advance, to at least one poet. This is not a contest and there is no reading fee, but we do ask everyone who submits to purchase one of our existing titles directly from us. Send your 48-80 page manuscript, along with a check and completed order form (available via the “Order” button on the left), to Steel Toe Books / Department of English / Western Kentucky University / 1906 College Heights Blvd. #11086 / Bowling Green, KY 42101-1086. Do not include a SASE. All manuscripts will be recycled, and our selections will be posted on this web site on or near New Year’s Day.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Finding Poland by Matthew Kelly

In the last few years, a number of excellent books about what happened to the Poles who were taken east to Siberia by the Soviets during World War II have appeared.  I've posted about several of these books here: Krysia Jopek's novel Maps and ShadowsAndrew Bienkowski's memoir One Life to Give: A Path to Finding Yourself by Helping Others, and Halina Ablamowicz's anthology Polish Poetry from the Soviet Gulag.  And there are a handful of other fine books that retell the story of the hardships suffered by the Poles as they were taken by the Soviets from the sections of Poland that came under their control when they and the Nazis invaded Poland at the start of the war.  Stefan Waydenfeld's Ice Road and Wesley Adamczyk's When God Looked the Other Way come to mind.

To this short list must be added Matthew Kelly's Finding Poland.  

Part memoir, part history, part family biography, part eulogy for a generation quickly receding, Kelly's book will touch any Polish-American who has ever looked at old photographs of grandparents whose names have been forgotten or stared at yellow pages written in Polish sixty, eighty, or a hundred years ago.  We all stare at similar pictures brought from the Old Country, try to decipher those letters, and wonder what the lives of those relatives who are now gone and perhaps forgotten were like.  Kelly, I'm sure, did the same as a young boy.

And as an adult, a historian teaching at the University of Southampton, UK, he set out to answer the questions that he must have asked himself as a boy:  Who were those people in those fading photographs, why were they taken from their homes, what did they suffer, and how did the suffering change them?

As he retraces the footsteps of his family, Kelly finds answers that will change the way you think about the past and who you are as you step into tomorrow.


The book is available here in the US through Amazon.

Kelly at present doesn't have an American publisher but some sample pages of the book are available online.  I highly recommend you take a look at the introduction and the opening chapter entitled "Trains."  

Click here to access the sample pages.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Polish Book Autumnfest

Dear friends, the following is reposted from Michael Stein's LiteraLab: a website devoted to Central European Literary Life.

Polish Book Autumnfest: Pole Position

9781844678587 Kapuscinski
Pole Position is a series of Polish book events kicking off this week in the UK and running through November. It’s a great lineup, opening onSeptember 19 in London with author of Ryszard Kapuściński: A Life, Artur Domosławski speaking with Neal Ascherson about the legendary Polish journalist.
In early October Paweł Huelle will present his latest short story collectionCold Sea Stories as well as a “a musical tour of his work.” This doesn’t mean he will be singing through his writing but discussing the range of music – from “Ukrainian folk songs, via the Magnificat, 18th century Irish composer John Field, and Schubert’s Liede, all the way to the Soviet National Anthem” – that appears in his work.

Then there will be a number of Stork Press authors such as crime writer Grażyna Plebanek, Noémi Szécsi (don’t worry, I won’t mention that she’s not Polish, but Hungarian) and author of Madame Mephisto A.M. Bakalar, who will be appearing at the Folkestone Book Festival in November together with Zygmunt Miłoszewski. Miłoszewski’s A Grain of Truth is out in the UK this month and in the US in January 2013. The season closes out with appearances by Jacek Dehnel and Magdalena Tulli.
It is worth pointing out that the excellent promotion involved in these events cannot be found in every country. The series is also indicative of another sharp divide in Central Europe – that between countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary that can make puns in English from their names and those that can’t. Czech Mate, Pole Dancing, Hungary for Culture – these are all possible festival names. But what do you do if you’re Croatia or Slovakia? It’s unfair.

For more information on the authors, books and specific events and dates click here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Neruda Nights by Helen Degen Cohen

I have been reading Helen Degen Cohen's poetry for so long that I can't remember when I started.  Her poems seem to have always been with me, pointing out the way the world is, offering me a friendly hand, and feeding my own writing.

So I'm always happy when I hear from her, especially when she tells me that she has a new book coming out.  

This one's called Neruda Nights, and it's scheduled to be published early in November and shipped by November 10.

You can order a copy now during the advance sale period (ends Sept 15) from Finishing Line Press.  Click here for the link.

Meanwhile, here's one of the poems from the book, "The Odor of Memory," a poem that I originally published in The Scream Online

The Odor of Memory
(a poem in 4 sections)

A boy, recalling:

We got there in a
state of awe
It was like having traveled
all those years
without knowing it
to arrive in this shaky wagon
full of straw—
the world smelled powerfully
good and there were girls
of every kind but all
the same, with skin.
And breath
they breathed like a disease
almost, some sort of
heavenly, holy disease. We grew red.
That rickety wagon.
How could you learn anything?
Yet everyone thought
we could learn.
The trees
dropped their faces over us. They were
Wheels, machinery, rolled over us,
motorcycles airplanes—wheels
we had to control, get on top of—ride.

A girl, recalling:

We got there in a state
of awe
without knowing it, without
having traveled. We were
trees that had never budded before,
our leaves greening, shedding, falling
like paper
you could draw on, like cloth
you could sew into anything,
we were
so pure were we, in and out of the
hopscotch squares
our hair a river of silver fish.
We floated
without moving, we arrived
in the rickety wagon and the world
smelled masculine—
we were tickled even by the word,
we were moist, we were
open words, we were m’s the s’s could
crawl into, we ached,
we were trees finally budding.

A boy, recalling:

They stood opposite
in the roomful of straw,
grounded like open flowers,
iris, camellias, wavering,
we thought they were only girls, across
the wagonload of straw, they sat
always opposite, across, as if
already filled up with country liquor, we
didn’t know it was sugar-water.
Still, we moved, we were used to
moving, never knowing
limbs, groins, what to do—in olden days
boys wrote poetry
something in us really wanted to write poetry
something we didn’t know
so we moved,
we coiled like rattlers in the straw
and they stood opposite, like calves, then cows.
They were the world. No longer trees.

A girl, recalling:

We came second. So it seemed. Their
moving, their motion, coming first,
because we stood so still, because
we sat still as the close-up
odor of grass,
of straw you could die in, widening
in slow motion, in iris and camellian
ways (so bad) because
we could barely hold our breath
for the budding, while they
across the roomful of straw
moved, snaked, and we, waiting,
like flesh-eating plants,
opened, no, like open water
in our silver cups, opened and closed and
A stable thing is afraid of motion.
We were trunks moving, whirling, turning from
paper to leaves, to grass, to too many things solid
as silver cows,
we were no longer trees.


If you want to read some other writing by Helen, here are some links:

"I Remember Coming into Warsaw, a Child." from her book Habry

"Return to Warsaw," Helen's personal essay about trying to find the Polish woman who saved her from the Nazis. 

A gathering of 5 poems from The Scream Online

Monday, July 30, 2012

Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka: Poet and Translator

Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka is a poet, writer, translator, photographer, and she holds a Ph. D. in Biochemistry. She has authored two books of translations from the Polish (Lidia Kosk's Niedosyt / Reshapings and Słodka woda, słona woda/ Sweet Water, Salt Water) and two chapbooks of her original poems written in English. Her poems and prose pieces have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies in the USA, Poland, and Ireland. Her translations of poems by Lucille Clifton, Josephine Jacobsen, and Linda Pastan have been published in Poland; her translations of Lidia Kosk's and Ernest Bryll’s works have appeared in over 50 publications in the U.S.A.  She is an editor for Loch Raven Review.

The following is an essay she wrote for Little Patuxent Review about how she became a translator and poet.  Following the essay, I've included three of her translations and two of her own poems.

On Being Invisible

I arrived in the United States on June 30, 1980, right after receiving my PhD in biochemistry from the Polish Academy of Sciences. A couple of months later, the Polish trade union Solidarity (Solidarność) was born. As a result, the Polish government allowed my husband to join me in the States in December.

My first trip to a Safeway in San Francisco was a shock: overstuffed shelves in long aisles, so many kinds of everything. Countless varieties of cooking oil and salad dressing from which to choose or five-pound sugar bags at a time when, in Poland, stores were empty and food was rationed. Excess, waste, I thought. Then and there, I decided that I didn’t need sugar in my tea.

At that time, I was a rare species from behind the Iron Curtain: a scientist with a postdoctoral fellowship. People seemed really interested in life in that communist country, even if they were not sure where Poland was. They asked me questions, they talked to me. There was so much to learn about our different worlds. They were learning from me, I was learning about them and the United States.

When my fellowship finished two years later, Solidarity was in prison and martial law was imposed in Poland. Flights were cancelled, mail and phone conversations censored. My husband and I stayed here. I was awarded my own research grants. Our son was born. I had a busy and successful career as an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland in Baltimore until I couldn’t work anymore due to fibromyalgia.

Why did I turn to poetry?

In 1980, Czesław Miłosz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was right next door, a professor at Berkeley. My fellow researchers were amazed: Miłosz, a poet, from Poland. In 1996, Wisława Szymborska was awarded the same prize. My American friends started asking about the poet and her writings. Since her books were not available in English, I translated one of her poems, “The People on the Bridge,” for my friend Alice, whose grandparents had emigrated from Poland in the 19th Century. I enjoyed journeying from one language to another.

This adventure gave me the courage to translate poems written by Lidia Kosk, the author of ten books who is also my mother. Her poems reflect on Polish history, a passion that extended to a collaboration with her late husband, Henryk P. Kosk, on the two-volume Poland’s Generals: A Popular Biographical Lexicon.

As was typical for those of my parents’ generation, she grew up during World War II and survived first the Nazi occupation of Poland, then the Stalinist regime imposed on Poland by the Soviet Union. As a young girl, she was twice captured by Nazis in random round-ups of Polish citizens (she escaped both times), yet she still believes that human beings are inherently good, even though there is a part of us that is evil and can be activated by ideology. All these experiences have surfaced in her writing.

Once we had decided to publish a bilingual book, the pace of translation accelerated. I am now the translator of the two bilingual books of poems by Lidia Kosk, niedosyt/reshapings and Słodka woda, słona woda/ Sweet Water, Salt Water. I also edited the latter, which has been nominated for two translation awards.

I have translated other poets, including Ernest Bryll. He is the author of some 50 volumes of poetry, plays and prose and a co-translator of seven books on Irish literature. Some of his plays, such as Painted on Glass, have attained record popularity in Central Europe, and some of his poems have been turned into lyrics for hit songs sung by some of the best Polish singers. My various translations have appeared in over 50 publications in literary journals and anthologies in the States.

I was also writing my own poems. Sometimes, when a poem couldn’t decide in which language it wanted to be written, I painted it.

I have given countless readings of my poems. Usually, I include my translations, accompanied by the originals that I read in Polish. I also provide information on Polish history, literature and the poet in question. While presenting Lidia Kosk’s war poems, I have noticed that people appreciate hearing that World War II started in Europe on September 1, 1939, with the invasion of Poland. Afterward, somebody usually comes to confess that he or she is of Polish descent but does not speak the language. Or, like Alice, just a few words learned from her grandmother, Babcia, who did not speak much English. At that time, it was believed that speaking another language at home hampered one’s education and chances of success in America.

In January 2011, I joined Loch Raven Review, which has published my poems, translations and an essay on the translation process. As Poetry Translations Editor, I have focused on bilingual publications from upcoming or recently published books. My goal is to familiarize readers with lesser-known poets from all over the world. And with their translators, who work mostly for the love of poetry, poets and languages, all the while helping to spread the word about the less-noticed parts of the world.


Three Poems Translated by Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka

A Note by Wisława Szymborska

Life — the only way
to grow leaves,
catch a breath on the sand,
rise on wings;

to be a dog,
or to stroke a dog’s warm fur;

to tell pain
from everything that is not pain;

to inhabit events,
get lost in the sights,
look for the smallest among mistakes.

An exceptional chance
to remember for a while,
what was discussed
when the lights were out;

and to trip over a stone
at least once,
get drenched in some rain,
lose keys in the grass;

and let the eyes follow a spark in the wind;

and perpetually not to know
something important.

-- from Loch Raven Review 

Monte Cassino by Lidia Kosk

I stand among the crosses
in the rays of Italian sun
whitening the tombstones
and reflecting off the white.

Time has not stopped here.
Green trees and bushes climb
all around, up to the monastery
on the summit. Rebuilt,

back here. And they are
here. Here they lie.
The ones who have opened
the path for new life.

For them life was envisioned in one word,
Poland, the name of the country
taken from them.
I see more pilgrims arrive. From Poland.

They take the burial grounds
as their birthright.
For the dead: flowers and memories.
For the living: the discovery

that such cemeteries
are on life’s path.
And a still photograph
at the gravesite.

-- from Lite (this poem also appears in the bilingual book Niedosyt/Reshapings)

Curious About the World by Lidia Kosk

And if I am given the chance
again and once again
to look at the marvel of this world
through eyelashes, like petals
of an apple flower

again and once again
to taste the juicy fruit                         
imbued in human history                   
of climbing, reaching up
again and once again
I will reach up
curious about the world
I have not learned enough.

-- from the bilingual book Słodka woda, słona woda/ Sweet Water, Salt Water


Two Poems by Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka

Face Half-Illuminated, Half in Shadow

Behind the small window a woolly sheet
underneath a dark-gray wing. Isolated,
we turn our clocks back—at first
cautiously, just one hour.  Of the colors
of the world only gray, blue, and white
remain.  We drink over our losses
and stuff the emptiness with meals. 
When we bravely turn our clocks back again
the smaller clouds blush.  We begin to believe
our powers over time. But at 2 pm above
the white blinding vastness the moon
turns up.  Below, the mountains rise
and ice-fields crack.
Tea time: a scone
with clotted cream. I unpack
the spoon for the mounds of heavy
Alaskan cream out  down there.  Frozen
needles on my window
pane spell: b e w a r e.
One more hour left. 
The passengers debate
whether it's 6 am
or 6 pm.  In Warsaw concealed
by heaven my parents sleep
at twelve am.  On I-95
at the other end at 6 pm
my husband and son are nearing
the place where I will touch the earth.

--first published in Pirene's Fountain

Echo—Testing My Heart

I saw gutted buildings. Red River came
above its flood stage, up to twenty-six
fire-tinted feet. I watched my heart beat,
pump blood on the computer screen. My blood
was blue, my blood was red. The surges came
strikingly fast. A spilling lightning stormed
through the valves, opening, closing them.
The mitral valve, untamed galloping horse.                              
The aortic, swishing like a ghost train.                                    
When those two sounds were lost, a gulping frog—
tricuspid valve I heard. Waves, spikes, walls, gates.
Dangers lurking in the sounds, in the waves.
They are over, both news and test. The echo
of valves and fires in red rivers stays.

--first published in Rufous Salon


I also recommend her essay "A Note on Translating."  You can read it by clicking here.

And here's a radio interview Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka and Lidia Kosk did recently.  The interview includes  some of Ms. Kosk's poems read in Polish and English.  You can hear it by clicking here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What's New? -- Co nowego? Polish Diaspora Writers and Artists Update

Phil Boiarski won the Annual Ekphrastic Writing Competition sponsored by the Toledo Museum of Art.  The poem and the beautiful color woodcut that inspired it are on his blog, Boiarski, the blog. published "Superior's East End and Anthony Bukoski's Ghosts," a wonderful piece about this Polish-American fiction writer and the world he grew up.

One of Sharon Chmielarz's poem was awarded the Jane Kenyon Prize from Water~Stone Review.  

Helen Degen Cohen's new chapbook Neruda Nights will be available for pre-publication sale from Finishing Line Press at end of this month.

Mary Krane Derr recently published a poem entitled "Transit of Venus" in the New Verse News. She has also launched a website for her poetry:

Piotr Florczyk's translation of Jacek Gutorow's The Folding Star and Other Poems (BOA) is available from Amazon.  

Oriana Ivy continues to think and write about poetry and the wide world it opens to her.  The current post discusses Dostoyevsky and Louise Hay.  Her poem "Wheat (for the people of the village of Ponikła)" appears at Contemporary World Poetry Journal.
Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka edits the Bilingual Translations section of the Loch Raven Review.  The spring 2012 issue celebrated the poems of Wisława Szymborska, and the summer 2011 issue featured the work of two Polish poets. 

Leonard Kress reports that he has short fiction and an interview in the Atticus Review, poems in Big Bridge and The Cortland Review, and translations of poems by Uri Zvi Greenberg, an Israeli poet born in Poland, in The Los Angeles Review.  Leonard also recently placed poems about Zbigniew Herbert and Czeslaw Milosz in The New Orleans Review.

Mark Lewandowski's piece about studying the Polish language was recently published in A Bad Penny Review He's had two other essays published in the past month:  "Out of Bodies," The Cream City Review, and "Footsteps in the Rain," Bluestem Magazine.
Paul Milenski placed stories recently in: Global Outlook, McGraw Hill-- Singapore, Santa Fe Literary Review, and The Firewalkers Book. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for his story entitled "Grandfathers" in Child of My Child.

Elisabeth Murawski has six poems in the recently published Winter Tales II, Women on the Art of Aging. Edited by R.A. Rycraft and Leslie What.  The anthology also includes work by Ursula K. LeGuin, Alicia Ostriker, Kelly Cherry, Dorianne Laux, and others. It’s available now from Amazon.
Amy Nawrocki's chapbook Lune de Miel will be published at the end of August, 2012.  You can pre-order from Finishing Line Press by clicking here.  
Seven Kitchens is publishing Christina Pacosz's chapbook How to Measure the Darkness in a limited edition of 49 copies as announced earlier this year.  The book can be ordered by clicking here.  Her poem "Murder by the (Wong) Numbers" has been accepted for the print anthology American Society:  What the Poet Sees by FutureCycle Press, edited by Robert S. King and David Chorlton, and also appears in her chapbook and NewVerse News.  Also, she'll be giving a reading with two other poets (Kay Reid and Barbara Lamorticella) in Portland, Oregon on July 23, 2012. The reading will be published as a podcast. Information is available at the Three Friends Coffeeshop/Caffeinated Art web site. 
Evelyn Posamentier's poetry collection Poland At the Door was recently reviewed at by Joanna Kurowska. The review can be accessed by clicking here.  The book is available through Amazon.

Mark Pawlak's Go to the Pine: Quoddy Journals 2005-2010, a collection of his poetic journals will be published on October 1, 2012, by Bootstrap Press. He also has poems in Ibbetson Street (#31), Stepaway #6, and New American Writing.

Steve Poleskie had a short story published in the English language online magazine from Mexico, In Other Words: Merida

John Popielaski's Isn't It Romantic? won the 2011 Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize and is forthcoming from Texas Review Press in October. 

Janice Miller Potter's poems about the laborers and Polish immigrants who populated her Appalachian childhood are now available in her chapbook Psalms in Time (Finishing Line Press).
Bill Rasmovicz's Gross Ardor will be published by 42 Miles Press in September 2013.
Rebecca Thaddeus will read from her novel One Amber Bead at the Courthouse in Omer, Michigan, July 18 at 7:00. This novel is based on the WWII experiences of her mother who worked  in a defense factory in Chicago and her mother-in-law who was a prisoner in a German labor camp, and about how those experiences changed their lives forever. Find out more about One Amber Bead on oneamberblog
Maja Trochimczyk's "Three Postcards from Paris" (inspired byRon Liebbrecht's watercolors) appear in The Quill and Parchment.  (To access the poem, you will need the following:  The username is : july and the password is: salmon)  Maja also has organized the first group reading from Meditations on Divine Names, an anthology she edited on the names of God.  It is scheduled for July 22, at 4:30 p.m. at Bolton Hall Museum, in Tujunga, CA, 10110 Commerce Avenue, as part of the Village Poets Monthly Readings series.  The book  was published by Moonrise Press in May 2012, and it is available from Lulu for $21. The details are on the publisher's website,, or on

Chris Wiewiora recently placed two personal essays: "Sleeping Over" on and "Lushies" in Issue #4 of Under the Gum Tree.  He's also published a few new things in Good Men Project. There's more, and you can read about it at his newly redesigned website:
Carl Winderl placed two poems ("Of the Holy Spirit and Elvis” and “His Father’s Hand”) in an anthology published under the auspices of Poetry in The Cathedral.  The volume is entitled From Glory to Glory, available at Amazon.

Linda Ciulik Wisniewski won first prize in the Pearl Buck Writing Center's 2012 short story contest. The story is posted here:  Linda also had an essay published in the March issue of, an online journal of memoirs and personal essays. 

Kristen Witucki has a novel coming out early next year from Gemmamedia Press.  It's called The Transcriber, and it's written for adolescent and adult new readers.

Andrena Zawinski's Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down, an anthology of poems by women writers, was recently published by Scarlet Tanager Books, Oakland, CA.  It's available online through Small Press Distribution, Amazon, Barnes and Noble.  She is also the features editor of, and the latest issue is just out.  


The photos above are from an album called "Warsaw is ... a crazy place" by Bogdan Frymorgen.  

John Guzlowski's "A Gift from Buchenwald," a personal essay about his parents' coming to America was recently featured at  
His anthology of poems about Heaven and Hell, featuring 48 poems from 37 poets, appears in the current issue of Scream Online.