In Poland, interest in world music is quite alive, and has managed to foster a sizable array of oh-not-so-bad artists during the last twenty years: the Kroke group from Krakow, just to mention one example, is very successful in mixing Klezmer and Balkan flavours with a decent jazzy box of tricks. Varsovian singer Katarzyna Szczot, also known as Kayah, co-authored with Goran Bregović one of the bestselling albums in Poland (Polish: Kayah i Bregović, 1999; 700 thousand copies sold); later on, she has proven an excellent evangelist of the Ladin, Yiddish, Arabic, Hebrew, Macedonian, Roman, and Polish musical traditions (Transoriental Orchestra, 2013). The Dikanda ensemble was founded in Szczecin in 1997. Its reference “space” is still the East, this time in an even more comprehensive meaning, as a semi-mythical place that extends well beyond the purely geographic scope and acquires a historical as well as an anthropological connotation.
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.
In his seminal book Diffusion of Innovations (New York: Free Press, 2003), first published in 1962, Everett Rogers admits that “the structure of a social system can facilitate or impede the diffusion of innovations in the system”. This is especially true today, as new technologies, new thought paradigms and new models of communication are continuously disrupting and recasting our lives, whilst putting huge pressure on the underlying social structures. The penetration speed of innovation is thus a function of the amount of inertia such structures are inherently endowed with, even though it was the collapse of solid societies, as Bauman would call them, that first demanded for a global re-editing of traditional models.
Nowa Huta – so many things.
From a merely cadastral standpoint, Nowa Huta is the easternmost district of Krakow, the XVIII. It is, also, one of the few places in Poland inhabited without gaps since the Neolithic Era; subsequently, the site is home to a large Celtic outpost as well as to the country’s oldest Slavic settlement. Later on, it appears to be linked with the city’s eponymous founder, Krakus, and with his daughter, whose mortal spoils rest underneath the Wanda Mound (Kopiec Wandy), a few kilometres away .
Still afterwards, Nowa Huta becomes grange to the Cistercian monastery of Mogiła. In due course the outskirts of the yet-to-be-recognised district are included in the border between territories controlled by Austria-Hungary and Russia. After 1945, the socialist regime decides to erect a satellite city combined with a vast industrial complex, in part to attract people from the countryside and to abash the resistance of the city’s middle class.
In Polish, Nowa Huta means “New Steelworks”.