Papusza is an author who goes beyond any label. She was a Polish poet but of Romani descent and nobody knew about her or when and where she was born. Perhaps had not Jerzy Ficowski made her known by spreading her poems she would have stayed unknown. However, due to this reason, Papusza’s story is striking and fascinating. She grew up a simple and apparently uncouth woman and yet she was deep and suffering. This woman was portrayed in a movie by Krzysztof and Joanna Krauze in 2013 and, one year earlier, in a book published by Czarne and written by Angelika Kuźniak; its title? Just Papusza.
To dig deeper into a book that its own publisher labels as reportage, but that is actually much more complex than that just like Papusza herself was, we talked with the author. Kuźniak is a writer whose books are akin to portraits of exceptional women where words help drawing a perfectly balanced picture between subtlety and in-depth analysis.
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You may stumble upon Marek Kazmierski on the Internet, sharing one of his articles for Culture.pl or watching him reading his English translations of Polish poets Julian Tuwim, Zuzanna Ginczanka, and Aleksander Fredro. Also, you may leaf through one of the beautifully bound books brought out by OFF_Press, the publishing house founded by Kazmierski, with a catalogue including authors such as Wioletta Greg and Irit Amiel. If you live in Warsaw chances are that you will bump into Kazmierski in a café, at a cultural event or at a multilingual poetry slam on both banks of the Vistula river. You may even happen to see him taking the floor on one of the English theatre improv nights that are blossoming up in the heart of the Polish capital. On 10th January this year, he was on the stage of Klub Komediowy, in Warsaw’s Saviour Square reading his translations of poems by Polish author Julian Tuwim. The event was the third in a series called ‘Polish Legends in Translation: Tuwim & Co’ that sees Kazmierski cooperating with Michał Sufin founder of the famous Polish improv group Klancyk.
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