Last night I dreamt of a man with dark curly hair who was telling me: “I’ve been loving you for a long time, did you know?” “Yes, yes, sure, but now kiss me” I replied but I woke up before he kissed me in the dream. Later, I would narrate the dream to my friends and for some reason, Ewa said, “oh this reminds me of a novel in Polish that I love. I’ll try to find it for you”.
I love this kind of events, this randomness that leads us to discover unknown writers, books that are beautiful but we somehow ignore. And this is what I love most about being here and meeting all these people from other countries, countries I would normally not feel inclined to explore. Ewa is Polish and before I came here, I hardly knew anything about her country. I remember Lech Valessa from the 80s, I knew many Polish people, especially Jews had died during WWII and that was about it. I didn’t even have the usual stereotypes about the Polish nation. But since I met her and some other Polish people, all very interesting, all very special, I have become intrigued. I loved the short glimpse I took of Warsaw last year when I went for a weekend and I would like to go back one day. But most I want to explore their literature to learn more about these proud people with the strange sounding language and the surnames I cannot pronounce (honest to god, I’m trying Ewa…). A little book that helped me as an introduction to Poland is the one below – the whole series is very useful if you read French (Collection – L’ame de peuples)
So by this kind of happy coincidence, I just discovered Edward Stachura (pronounced ˈɛdvard sta’xura – fairly easy this one), a Polish writer and poet who “lived his life as well as wrote it”. The beautiful stort story Ewa had mentioned is the “With my willpower I will fall in love with her” and I found this and most of all the information I mention here in the site of an American professor, called Andrzej Duszenko who seems to have translated a lot of his work and set up this comprehensive webpage about the writer.
What I liked most about the story is this dreamlike feeling that you have from the beginning and at the moment you have been persuaded that this is not a dream, this is really happening, the writer crashes your hopes and leaves you just as dreams do: devastated. A truly big attribute when writers manage to instill those feelings. This story made literally my heart race, as if I was taking part in it and to be able to do that – I call it great literature.
I am going through the rest of the work available in English now and I see that the professor has another page on another Polish poet I love, Wisława Szymborska and I intend to explore that too.
UPDATE June 2016: I’ve read more Polish literature since I wrote that post. And I discovered another interesting poet from Krakow this time, Ewa Lipska. Here is one of her poems:
I remove from your face
a crumb of plum cake.
A tiny print of tenderness.
Far from any ideas
I place it on the ancient china of the page.
Let it be recorded forever.
We don’t know when
a draft blew everything away.
Someone opened a window. Someone opened a door.
I still visit pastry shops.
I resent your being only an illusion for me.
And even the night cannot guess
when we are together.
I owe a lot to Ewa so far, for the delicious quince vodka she introduced me to, for her enthusiasm and inner power. I now owe her this exquisite piece of literature as well. Thank you mate!