Warsaw Street with the yellow tram and zebra stripes at the crosswalk
Warsaw Street with bus stop
on the way to Hotel Solec
Reception at the American Minister Counselor's home, Warsaw, ul. Dabrowskiego 48
(below) Fulbrighters Debra Allen from Texas and Hedwig Gorski from Louisiana.
Fulbrighters after lunch of mead,
St. James Cathedral
Statue of Copernicus
Hedwig and tour boat captain on the river
Ciazen Palace, now Adam Mickiewicz University's
guest lodging: Upstairs, I found a large Masonic
library with English titles.
9/26 D'Jalma and I were met in Poznan by Lukasz, a University of Wroclaw doctoral candidate, who helped with our massive luggage from the train to my lecture base, Wroclaw, in Silesia, at the University of Wroclaw English Department. The fall semester began Oct. 1, 2003. We enjoyed five days getting to know our new winter home.
WROCLAW IN SILESIA
Apartment on Old Odra River
The view from our lovely and compact apartment from the balcony at ul 17A Pasteur'a.Olowek (pencil) i Kreska crayon) bldgs. are in the background in Wroclaw student dorms.
(right) D'Jalma sits at his Mac writing his Mel Bay book charting Cajun & Creole folk songs.
Norman Davies' Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City is a recommended book about Wroclaw. The city was German before and through the war. The Nazi high command, headquartered in Wroclaw, bulldozed buildings to make a landing strip. Bullet holes from Russian artillery fire remain on many of the older
buildings--I could touch Wroclaw's physical wounds from the war.
Dr. Dominika Ferens was my Fulbright shepherd
side, we discovered, as she led us on
late night tours of Wroclaw along its
winding cobblestone streets
Old friends from Austin, TX, George Dolis & Ingrid Wiegand, help celebrate D'Jalma's 50th birthday on 1/26/04. They were on their
way to visit Ingrid's mother in Germany. With its Che Guevera posters on the walls, Cafe Havana easily served the best --and only-- Cuban food in Wroclaw.
Little Polish Restaurant near our apartment
Friends Richard & Basia Benesevich, Ingrid &
George, and D'Jalma at a little Polish restaurant that served homemade Polish cuisine near our apartment. Richard is an American from Connecticut who received his Magistrate degree from U of Wroclaw and teaches in Walbrzych, a former mining town in Lower Silesia. He informed us that Charlie Watts buys his horses in Walbrzych, Lower Silesia.
Hala Ludowa (The People's Hall)
The concert venue where ordinary people could pay ordinary prices to see world class opera productions. I bought a ticket for the first
cycle of Wagner's four-part opera, Der Ring des Nibelungen, for 60 zloty, the price of a movie
ticket. This is a production of Verdi's Troubadour. The Wroclaw symphony orchestra performs for the opera company. Translated German lyrics in Polish ran outside the proscenium: a communist era gimmick to grow the blue-collar fan base.
Oh, yes, they sell grzaniec, hot mulled red wine, during intermission: "If you don't like it, I'll refund your money then I'll drink it myself," the vendor told me.
Ah, grzaniec, more than warmth for a soul who makes the 20-minute walk in snow from 17A Pasteur'a across the Maria "Madame Curie" Sklodkowska bridge spanning the Stara (Old) Odra River to the Hala Ludowa.
D'Jalma and his brother Tony Garnier with great Czech poet, playwright, and political dissident, Vaclav Havel. Havel never misses a Dylan concert when the band tours Central Europe.
Backstage at Bob Dylan's Prague concert, Hedwig Gorski converses with Vaclav Havel as Mrs. Havel looks at some photos local photographers took of Pres. Havel and his entourage.
Hedwig with Peter Stormare,
the Swedish actor who put the
Steve Buscemi character
into the wood chipper
in the film Fargo. He really
is a sweet fellow! Don't we look related? The concert was "smokin'" hot, and Bob did a few James
Brown moves on stage.
We had the attic room at the Hotel Olga in Prague, a short walk from the concert stadium. The Czech language is the least
understandable for one who knows Polish. It's easier to understand spoken Ukrainian and Russian. The Czechs won't take Polish
zloty currency, even though it is of greater value! This is how much they are against the war in Iraq and Poland's participation in the coalition, Peter said. Central-Eastern Europe is a land of determined passion.
We often took the train to Cracow, south of Warsaw in MaloPolska. Next to mysterious Wroclaw, Cracow is by far one of the most interesting places to visit in an altogether intriguing country. Roman Polanski grew up there in the Jewish ghetto. His experiences informed the film "Pianist."
The "gig" that D'Jalma did for the American
consul and French Institute/French Consulate
to help mend French and American relations, we
thought. I introduced the Acadian culture before
D'Jalma performed Cajun-Creole classics backed
up by Kris Bodzon and his Polish blues band,
Soulfinger. Read more about the event at the
American Embassy website, which has more pictures http://www.usinfo.pl/krakow/events/cajun.htm
Hedwig with Michal Rusinek, 1996 Nobel laureate Wyslawa Szymborska's secretary. Michal brought several Chwila books to Pani Szymborska for for the poet's autographed inscriptions. Cracow is Szymborska's city. Czeslaw Milosz also kept an apartment here for visits.
Hotel Europejski window shown at left where Hedwig looks out. This was a lovely room that we always booked. The hotel concierge downgraded us after D'Jalma's inadvertent faut pas on our final visit.
View pictured of the train and bus stations from Hotel Europejski window shown above.
After a 1.5 hour bus ride from Krakow,
Hedwig stands at the infamous gate to the
Auschwitz Concentration Camp. D'Jalma's
hands were shaking when he took this picture.
A few miles away from Auschwitz, the mass slaughter took place in Birkenau. Railroad tracks lead into the barbed wire camp where the rubble from the below-ground crematoriums still remain. Ashes were dumped into the scenic
pond surrounded by lovely white birch trees. Our cab driver, a long-time resident of Oswieciem, said that the smell of burning human flesh added a sweet aroma to the air.
Inside one of the preserved barracks at Birkenau, we stand around the latrine that runs the length of the building between rows of tilted sleeping bunks. Even in daylight, the interior remains dark. Visitors from around the world visit daily the preserved camps. It continues to be a solemn and haunting experience of phantom disbelief for all who walk the grounds.
Walbrzych was a coal mining town before the mines were closed.
Unemployed miners protested in Warsaw, sometimes violently, during our entire stay in Poland. Evoking the past successes of Solidarity could not help the miners survive in the 2003 Polish economy.
I traveled to Walbrzych to give a lecture on Ernest Gaines to students of Richard Benesevich at the Panstwowa Wyzsza Szkola Zawodowa. We stopped to listen to a Ukrainian street band on the Walbrzych Rynek.
On the Catholic holiday of the Three Kings, a priest knocked on Richard's door to bless the house, as is the custom. Richard and D'Jalma thought they were in for a lecture when the priest asked if they smoked. Instead, the priest invited them to join him in a cigarette break.
10/24/2004 Random notes.
The Fulbright program began sending scholars and students to Poland in the 1950s.
Before leaving Warsaw on 2/6/2004 for the U.S., D'Jalma and I flew into Lviv (Lwow), Ukraine, located in the former Polish Galicia region prior to the Yalta agreement divisions. In exchange for the give away of eastern Polish lands to the Soviets, Poland added German territory to its western border.
Wroclaw then became Polish and Poles from Galicia, entire villages together (I learned from students) migrated to western Poland for land grants. My father's family received a farm in Jankow, near Olawa, the next train stop from Wroclaw,
as fate would have it. My grandmother worked in servitude to the German family, former owners of the farm, before the Germans were expelled from the postwar Polish territory. Poles had been expelled from Wroclaw after the city was turned
into a landing strip for German SS leaders. Poland, historically in the center of the push-pull between Germanic and Slavic hegemony, became a ground zero for
mid-century events that transformed the world.
The old communist beauracratic habits linger even more strongly in Ukraine than in Poland. A Ukrainian exit border guard actually grabbed my purse to search my wallet for hryvnia, Ukrainian currency that "should" remain
only in Ukraine. Nevertheless, we mused over the heavy-handed rubber stamping techniques at most official bureaus, including the post office, wherever we went in Poland. I noticed Poles, even at the residency visa offices, retained an ubiquitous national sense of humor regardless of the stern
exteriors they were required to present on their jobs.
© 2004 Hedwig Gorski - E-mail contact: dr.hedwiggorski [at] gmail [dot] com Click Here to email Hedwig.
Buy books, audio, and other products by and about Poet/Scholar Hedwig Gorski on Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/tag/hedwig%20gorski
Poets and Writers Directory listing and photo http://www.pw.org/content/hedwig_gorski
East of Eden Band and Thirteen Donuts Audio Samples about Polish immigrants in new Orleans
Gorski Visual Art Gallery
Intoxication: Heathcliff on Powell Street cLICK HERE TO SEARCH INSIDE OR PURCHASE THE BOOK.
New 1978 Austin, Texas, Avant Theater Memoir Published by Slough Press 2007 http://heathcliffonpowellstreet.googlepages.com
read a review by alan Clinton about the book: http://reconstruction.eserver.org/073/clinton2.shtml
Screenplay sample Calling to Yeti about Poet Szymborska