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Gliwice – a provincial but vibrant town
Adam Zagajewski Poet
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Październik '56 roku to jest też – jak mówię, mam 11 lat, niedużo rozumiem, ale wiem, że coś... Gliwice to może miasto prowincjonalne, ale tam też się dużo działo, bo częściowo to wiem z późniejszych opowiadań, ale wtedy było oczywiste, że tam nagle wielki sezon spotkań, odczytów, wykładów, kiedy te odczyty... To jest bardzo ciekawe – budzenie się opinii publicznej, bardzo ciekawe, że w '56 roku po tym okresie mrozu stalinowskiego budzi się opinia publiczna. Ludzie chcą dowiedzieć się, chcą słuchać, ale też chcą się wypowiedzieć. I nam w takim mało znaczącym miejscu jak Gliwice – to jest absolutnie widoczne – tam jednak jest inteligencja techniczna, są studenci i z tego, co później czytałem, to Gliwice należały do najbardziej ożywionych miast w Polsce, właśnie w sensie takim, że przyjeżdżali prelegenci z Warszawy – tego nie potrafię powiedzieć, ale czuję, że Kołakowski mógł przyjechać, mogli ludzie, którzy byli wtedy pionierami tego... tych zmian, także zmian w świadomości. Ale z drugiej strony nie chcę też stwarzać wrażenia, że jestem i byłem takim bytem politycznym, bo mam z drugiej strony życie spokojne, niepolityczne.

October '56 that's also – like I said, I was 11 years old, I didn't understand much but I knew that something... Gliwice might have been a provincial town, but there was a lot happening there, too, as I know partly from later accounts. However, it was obvious at the time that suddenly there was a great number of meetings, recitals, lectures. This awakening of public opinion is very interesting – in '56 following the big Stalinist freeze, public opinion awoke. People wanted to know more, they wanted to listen, but they also wanted to speak out. And so in a small, insignificant place like Gliwice there is no shortage of technical know-how, there are students and, according to what I read later, Gliwice was among the most vibrant towns in Poland in that speakers would come from Warsaw. I can't say for certain, but I have a feeling that Kołakowski might have come, and that perhaps other pioneers of these changes came, too, changes that were also changes in awareness. However, I don't want to create the impression that I was or am some kind of political animal because I have a very peaceful, non-political life.

Adam Zagajewski (b. 1945 in Lwów) is 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: Gliwice

Duration: 1 minute, 53 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2018

Date story went live: 25 April 2019