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Marian Pankowski

Photo by Ha!art

Marian Pankowski

Laugh, Nastka!

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Read by Wojciech Barczyński, recorded by Radiofonia Association
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English translation: Jessica Mendrek
I went to an alumnae reunion at the honorable Jagiellonian Alma Mater. This time I will skip the description of chestnut trees in the Planty Park – I wrote about them in letters, more than once.
I sat down in the big hall, on a side seat, as I do always and everywhere, just in case…. to be close to the door. We welcomed the rector and senate by standing up. I listen to their speeches. Now we stand up again, because the university choir started to sing “Gaudeamus igitur”. We join in the hymn. Touched, we look at one another and we are not embarrassed of our widely open mouths or of the emotions, which are like dew on our look.
So anniversary, as copied from a marble plaque, I run downstairs to the ground floor and to the Planty Park. And here – a student with a microphone shaped like a black corncob, jumps out on me! And above him his friend, a head higher, pointing his camera at me. The reporter sees my narcissistic smile, he sees my salty-coloured hair, so he asks immediately :
-         As a freshman, what amazed you the most at our university?... And in general, in Kraków?
-         At the university, you know, the library hall…the walls covered with big books, ancient volumes… parchments… and that I, yesterday a high school student from down the San river, can sit here at the foot of these… you understand… repeating in my head “Yes, it’s you…. you are sitting here”... You know, the pride of a bumpkin...
-          And the city? – the reporter cues me on.
-     In the city…. these tenement houses...they seem “godly” because of the stained glass! And at the top of one, across its elevation, there are running…. music notes, as if the house was inviting passers-by to sing!... And the Franciscan Church… Wyspiański’s flowers… and that God… blessing? or blasting?
English translation: Jessica Mendrek
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Marian Pankowski

(1919–2011) – one of the most original contemporary Polish writers. Born to a poor family of the Podkarpackie Region. Frequently emphasised that poverty he experienced as a child was of key significance for his literary education. After the second world war, emigrated to Belgium, where he spent the rest of his life. Discovered late in Poland, mostly thanks to Ha!art, a Krakow-based publishing house which has published his works for years. The cheekiness of his writing is very often emphasised: Pankowski liked to provoke and challenge the established models typical of Polish culture. Descriptions of the traumas of war and experiences of the concentration camp were considered scandalous, much like his frequent attacks on all the forms of religiousness. Sometimes called the youngest among the oldest Polish writers. (ms)
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