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Inspiring diaries

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Writing children's literature
Julia Hartwig Poet
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At that time, my husband and I wrote... when our child was just a few years old... keeping up with her development, from about six to nine – by the age of nine she was already a very bright young lady. However, before then, we'd already written three books, one of which had been awarded a prize by Nasza Księgarnia, and which described the life of a little girl in Warsaw, in a city which was a little fantastic, there were... conversations with a horse that clearly couldn't talk but talked with this little girl anyway, and there were some quite funny anecdotes... interspersed with short poems. I have to say that Krzysztof Pomian surprised me once by reciting all of these poems – Artur had written them – they are amusing little poems, and he recited them all from start to finish. I thought to myself, well here's an odd child, but they had a daughter and she was the one who was reading this book. So we wrote, yes, we wrote plays for children. The book was, of course, addressed to our child, but to be honest, the parents had to support the child as well as the house and so they grabbed every opportunity to make a little money by writing. So, among other things, there were these children's books which were popular, were read, and they secured a place for me to the point that when I went to a meeting with teachers of Polish that I'd been invited to attend, when it was over, one lady of a certain age said to me, 'When I was a child, I used to read your books. The little girl in them was called Poziomka, and I was very put out that my parents weren't calling me Poziomka'. I was terribly embarrassed that such an admission had been made but I was also pleased, I have to admit, because this meant that someone somewhere had read this.

Napisaliśmy razem z mężem w tym okresie, kiedy nasze dziecko było... było kilkuletnie. W miarę jej... jej jak gdyby rozwijania się, ciągle dziecięcego, gdzieś tak od... od, powiedzmy, od 6 lat do 9 – do 9 już była bardzo świadoma panienka. Ale przedtem napisaliśmy właściwie trzy książki z których jedna – miała nagrodę zresztą Naszej Księgarni – która opisuje życie dziewczynki w Warszawie – w takim mieście – i takie troszkę fantastyczne, zresztą były... i były... rozmowy z... z takim koniem, który na pewno nie mógł rozmawiać, ale i tak z nią rozmawiał, i takie no dosyć zabawne anegdotki, i... przerywane wierszykami. I muszę powiedzieć, że zaskoczył mnie Krzysztof Pomian, który mi kiedyś wyrecytował te wierszyki – Artur pisał, one są takie śmieszne wierszyki – i on mi to wyrecytował od początku do końca. No pomyślałam sobie, że dziwne dziecko się znalazło, ale gdzie to on miał... mieli córkę i właśnie ona czytała tę książeczkę. Więc pisaliśmy, tak, pisaliśmy sztuki dla dzieci. Ja wszystko to... Książka to oczywiście była adresowana do naszego dziecka, ale tak prawdę mówiąc, to rodzice musieli utrzymać dziecko i także musieli utrzymać dom, i chwytali się różnych form... zarobku literackiego. Więc między innymi te książki dziecinne, które miały zbyt, które były czytane, robiły... bardzo, bardzo nam dobre miejsce, do tego stopnia, że jak ja miałam takie spotkanie doskonalące z nauczycielami polskiego, gdzie mnie zaproszono to na koniec pewna taka pani już w pewnym wieku, powiedziała mi: „A ja, jak byłam mała, to czytałam Pani książki. I tamta dziewczynka się nazywała Poziomka i ja miałam wielkie pretensje, że moi rodzice mnie nie nazywają Poziomka”. Ja się strasznie zawstydziłam, że w ogóle do takiego... do takiego wyznania doszło, ale było mi przyjemnie – przyznaję. Czyli ktoś tam to kiedyś czytał.

Born in 1921 to a Polish father and a Russian mother, Julia Hartwig is a Polish poet, essayist, translator and author of children's books. She studied at the University of Warsaw, the Catholic University in Lublin and the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Czesław Miłosz called her 'the grande dame of Polish poetry'. Julia Hartwig is one of the few poets in Poland who makes masterly use of poetic prose. She has translated poems by Apollinaire, Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Cendrars and Supervielle, and has published monographs on Apollinaire and Gerard de Nerval. She has also translated from English, and published a large anthology of American poetry which she co-edited in 1992 with her late husband, the poet Artur Międzyrzecki.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks.  He specializes in portraits and in historical films.  Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members.  Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Nasza Księgarnia, Warsaw, Poziomka, Artur Międzyrzecki, Krzysztof Pomian

Duration: 2 minutes, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2010

Date story went live: 10 October 2011