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Kraków – the city of my dreams


Goodbye to a career in engineering
Adam Zagajewski Poet
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Later, there were the matriculation exams. I had finally won my parents around and they'd agreed to my going to Kraków to study there. The exams were over and certificates were being handed out, and my Polish teacher, the one whom I didn't like and who knew that my father was a professor at the polytechnic, said to me, 'Well, Adam, I'm sure that you'll make a fine engineer'. I'll never forget that moment and that's why I didn't like him. I didn't want to be an engineer and he didn't even realise that I was taking a different path. Perhaps this also says something about me that I didn't show this off enough since I was so discreet with my reading and my first reflections that I allowed him to think this about me. However, there was no bond between us, no dialogue. Nothing.

I później... później jest taki moment, kiedy przychodzi matura, ja wreszcie wywalczyłem u moich rodziców, że mogę jechać do Krakowa na studia. I jest matura, jest rozdanie świadectw maturalnych i ten mój nauczyciel polskiego, którego nie lubiłem, który wie, że mój ojciec jest profesorem politechniki, mówi mi: 'No, Adam, jestem pewien, że będziesz bardzo dobrym inżynierem'. I to jest moment, którego nigdy nie zapomnę i ja go nie lubiłem za to. Ja nie chciałem być inżynierem i że on się nie domyślił, że... że ja idę w inną stronę. Może to też o mnie coś mówi, że ja za mało jakby to pokazywałem, bo byłem tak dyskretny z tymi moimi lekturami, przemyśleniami pierwszymi, że... że pozwoliłem mu na to, żeby tak myślał. Ale nie było między nami żadnego... żadnej bliskości, żadnego dialogu. Nic.

Adam Zagajewski (1945-2021) was a Polish poet, novelist, translator and essayist. He was awarded the 2004 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize Lifetime Recognition Award and the 2017 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature. He is considered as one of the leading poets of the Generation of '68 or the Polish New Wave (Polish: Nowa fala) and is one of Poland's most prominent contemporary poets.

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: Kraków

Duration: 1 minute, 13 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2018

Date story went live: 25 April 2019