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Literary café culture


The literary underground
Julia Hartwig Poet
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And so from the time when we arrived, it so happened that in those years – in the years more or less spanning the '70s – we joined in a relatively low-key and unimportant yet still underground activity. We didn't publish anything although something by Artur did come out, I think it was The Roadside Poems but I wasn't writing much at that point and it seemed to me that writing lyrical poems during martial law and announcing them to people who would find it hard to come by this book and who wanted to read something that would lift their spirits, that was... that wasn't my place at that time. Later, it turned out, after everything was over, that in that book by Barańczak where he writes... where he publishes English translations of various poets, there were a few of my poems, too, which were about difficult times and which were intended to give hope while at the same time, they were despairing.

No więc od tego czasu jakeśmy przyjechali to tak się stało, żeśmy już właśnie w tych latach – mniej więcej 70-tych – zaciągnęliśmy się jak gdyby do takiej – stosunkowo nie takiej ofiarnej czy jakiejś bardzo ważnej, ale jednak – służby podziemnej. Co prawda nie... nie drukowaliśmy – wprawdzie owszem, coś wyszło Artura, zdaje się Strony przydrożne wyszły [sic] – ale zasadniczo ja po prostu wtedy mało pisałam, a wydawało mi się, że pisać liryki w stanie wojennym i ogłaszać je ludziom, którzy z trudem tę książkę zdobywają i chcą przeczytać coś takiego, co by ich podniosło na duchu, to jest... to nie... to nie jest moje miejsce wtedy, no. Potem się okazało, że po... po... jak wszystko minęło to... to w tej książce Barańczaka, gdzie on pisze o... gdzie... gdzie drukuje po angielsku przekłady różnych poetów, znalazło się kilka moich wierszy, które dotyczyły tych trudnych czasów – niektóre jak gdyby... tak jak gdyby miały i dawać nadzieję i równocześnie były rozpaczliwe.

Born to a Polish father and a Russian mother, Julia Hartwig (1921-2017) was 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 was one of the few poets in Poland who made masterly use of poetic prose. She translated poems by Apollinaire, Rimbaud, Max Jacob, Cendrars and Supervielle, and published monographs on Apollinaire and Gerard de Nerval. She 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: Roadside Poems, Strony Przydrożne, Stanisław Barańczak

Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2010

Date story went live: 15 June 2011