Posts Tagged ‘Education’

What you should know…

30 December 2013 - By

An article by Matt Soniak, written to honor the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Polish immigrants in America in 2008 recently re-appeared, at mental_floss. It presents a great retrospective of the contributions of Polish immigrants to life and culture in the Americas. Below are a few of the highlights including Poish-American’s organizing of the Polish National Catholic Church from 8 Things You Need to Know About Polish Americans:

1. We got to the party early, and brought a lot of friends.

In 1608, the first Polish immigrants arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, and were quickly recruited by the colony as craftsmen in the colony’s glassmaking and woodworking industries. (They also dug the colony’s first well.) After a decade in Jamestown, the Poles still did not have the right to vote in the elections of the colonial government, and in 1619, they held the first labor strike in America. By walking off the job, they affected the local industry enough that voting rights were granted to them.

Just before America began to fight to gain its independence, Poland lost its own. In 1772, 1793 and 1795, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was partitioned by Prussia, Russia and Austria. The first of three major waves of Polish immigration occurred after the partition when Polish nobles, political dissidents and other Poles fled their occupied nation.

A second wave took place between 1860 and World War I. Although the reconstitution of Poland was parts of Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and Poland regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic, a few million Poles had already left for America because industrialization had driven them from their farms.

The third and largest wave lasted from the end of World War I to the end of the Cold War, again mostly made up of political refugees. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and emergence of the Third Polish Republic, a fourth wave of immigrants, who generally come to earn money and eventually return to Poland, began. Today, there are an estimated 10 million Americans of Polish descent.

2. We’re mostly found in clusters in the Northeast

Polish immigrants were considered well-suited for manual labor, and were often recruited for work in coal mines and the steel industry. Because of that, the largest Polish American populations can still be found in states that were industrial centers in the 20th century, like Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan (here’s a map of Polish American hot spots).

The largest Polish American population can be found in Chicago, which with 185,000 Polish speakers calls itself the largest Polish city outside of Poland. The cities and towns of Pennsylvania’s Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties, including Wilkes-Barre (my home sweet home), Scranton, Hazleton, Pittston and Nanticoke, are also home to large Polish populations because of the area’s once-large coal deposits.

3. We made some big steps for religion in this country

When the predominantly Roman Catholic Poles came to America en masse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Catholic Church here had no Polish bishops and very few Polish priests. A group of Polish immigrants in Scranton broke away in 1897 and formed the Polish National Catholic Church. Today, the PNCC has 126 parishes in North America and 60,000 members.

While Poland is largely Roman Catholic, it has had a small Muslim population since the 14th century, when Tatar tribes began settling in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. A group of Polish Muslims who emigrated to the U.S. co-founded the first Muslim organization in Brooklyn in 1907 and, in 1926, built a mosque that’s still in use today.

4. We’ve got friends in high places

Polish Americans you might be familiar with include Kristen Bell, Maria Bello, Scarlett Johansson, John Krasinski, Mike Krzyzewski, Jerry Orbach, John Ratzenberger, Gore Verbinski, the Wachowski brothers, the Warner brothers, Pat Benatar, Dick Dale, Liberace, Richie Sambora, Jack White, Pat Sajak, Martha Stewart, Steve Wozniak, Richard Feynman, Gene Krupa and Mike Ditka.

While they may not be household names, other Polish Americans have done some pretty important things. Stephanie Kwolek developed Kevlar. Albert Abraham Michelson was the first American to receive the Nobel Prize in the sciences for his work on measuring the speed of light. Curtis Sliwa founded the Guardian Angels. Ruth Handler co-founded the Mattel toy company and created the Barbie doll. Leo Gerstenzang invented the Q-tip…

5. George Washington loved us

Among the Polish immigrants to America after the partitions was Casimir Pułaski, a Polish noble and soldier, who was recruited by Benjamin Franklin to help lead the American army. PuÅ‚aski was made a general and had a large role in training the Continental Army. He later created [the] Pułaski’s Legion, one of America’s first cavalry regiments, and is regarded as “the father of American cavalry.”…

6. There ain’t no Christmas like a Polish Christmas

Wigilia, the traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner, begins when the first evening star appears. Twelve meatless courses (one for each of the apostles) are served after a white wafer called the oplatek, is broken and shared among the diners while they exchange good wishes (a separate pink wafer is shared with the animals). For the dinner, there should be an even number of people at the table to ensure good health, with one empty chair reserved anyone who happens to stop by. Tasting all twelve courses ensures good luck in the new year. After supper, Christmas carols are sung in Polish, and the celebration culminates with family and friends going to Pasterka, the Midnight Mass.

7. We didn’t invent the polka, but we do love it

While often attributed to the Polish, the polka actually originated in Bohemia…

8. Our food is awesome

Do you like kielbasa? How about pierogis? You’re welcome.

Past and Present of Polish Immigrant Communities

13 December 2013 - By

On January 2-4, 2014 in Washington D.C., The Polish American Historical Association (PAHA) will explore social, historical, and cultural aspects in the lives of Polish émigrés and exiles in America

PAHA one of Polonia’s most venerable organizations will hold its Annual Meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington D.C. The conference will gather over 30 scholars presenting their current research during eight scholarly sessions dedicated to such topics as: Protest and Exile, Polish Immigrant and Ethnic Women, Between the Revolutionary War and World War II, Polish Immigrant and Ethnic Identities, Religious Leaders and Communities, and Stories of World War II. Individual presenters will discuss: Pułaski’s burial, Polish troops in the American Civil War, General Bolesław Wieniawa-Długoszowski, Pope John Paul II in America, World War II mementos and family histories, Polish children in exile, Polish-Jewish émigré composers and their inclusion into Polish music history, writings by women, American support for Warsaw in 1944, Polish-American press in Canada and the U.S., careers of second generation émigrés, Polish documents at the Library of Congress, dialects in Polish folk theater, and much more.

A special book forum will be dedicated to Mieczysław B.B. Biskupski’s The United States and the Rebirth of Poland, 1914–18 (with comments by noted historians Prof. Neal Pease, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and Prof. James Pula, Purdue University North Central). The Conference will end with a screening of Mariusz Kotkowski’s Pola Negri: Life is a Dream in Cinema held on Saturday, January 4, 2014: 5:30 PM at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Jefferson Room (2660 Woodley Rd NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. 202.328.2000).

PAHA Annual Awards for research in the field of Polish American Studies will be announced during the Annual Awards Banquet on Friday, January 3, 2014. Conference registration is open on PAHA Website.

PAHA confers the annual Haiman Award for sustained scholarly effort in the field of Polish American Studies, awards the annual Halecki Prize for the best book on a Polish American topic and the annual Swastek Prize for the best article appearing in Polish American Studies, as well as sponsors many other awards.

PAHA has over 600 international members, including both individuals and institutions; membership is open to all individuals interested in the fields of Polish American history and culture, and immigration studies.

Praise the Lord with timbrel and harp

6 December 2013 - By

Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with timbrel and lyre!
For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with victory.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their couches. — Psalm 150

The following interviews feature National United Choirs Scholarship winner Adam Sniezek who is Eastern Michigan University’s senior drum majorand is from Our Savior PNCC in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. If you listen, between the lines, you see the impression faith makes on the lives of our youth – placing others first, living as part of community.

Cosmopolitan Review Fall 2013 Issue Posted

6 December 2013 - By

From the Cosmopolitan Review: A Transatlantic Review of Things Polish, in English

Photo of Górecko Kościelne, Poland by Sławomir Nowosad

Photo of Górecko Kościelne, Poland by Sławomir Nowosad

As we admired our favorite photographer’s beautiful Polish sunset, it occurred to us that – to paraphrase a well-known imperial boast – the sun never sets on the Polish diaspora. They are everywhere, in their infinite variety, and what luck we have to stay in touch, even if only virtually.

This issue of CR is largely about Polonia – to use the term that defines all Poles outside Poland – plus a couple of guests, in keeping with the longstanding tradition of Polish hospitality. So, guests first.

Roy Eaton, a New Yorker who came to Montreal and captured the hearts and imaginations of students at the Quo Vadis conference, won the first Kościuszko Foundation Chopin Competition in 1950, but that is but one of many firsts for this gracious and talented man. His music is a must for fans of Chopin and Joplin.

Staying with music, Justine Jablonska catches up with Katy Carr, not an easy thing to do given the international demand for Katy’s performances. And check out Katy’s work with British school kids. For her part, Kinia Adamczyk introduces us to a Montrealer who is a musician, a poet, a writer and a chef, and all of that in Polish, Hebrew, Arabic, German, French and English. If only he would invite us to dinner!

And speaking of poets, we like to think that Linda Nemec Foster wrote her poem just for us. She didn’t, except in the sense that it is for all of us. “I am from America and Poland…” Yes.

We introduce Agnieszka Tworek who introduces us to the marvelous work of Boston architect and artist, Monika Zofia Pauli. It’s a feast for the eyes.

Three immigrant stories, each one so different from the next: one looks back at the very different Canada that welcomed him – sort of – in 1946; another looks at Poland because she knows she didn’t just come out of thin air; and one tells us about his grand world tour – just the thing to broaden one’s education – with great wit and style.

And then there were those clever Poles who by-passed the cold, cold north and headed straight for sunny California. It’s the 150th birthday of the Polish Society they started. They couldn’t attend the party but you really must meet them.

Check out the review of the new book about Krystyna Skarbek/Christine Granville. British author Clare Mulley’s extensive research and obvious admiration for the enigmatic spy is a great read.

Vince Chesney and Stephen Drapaka weigh in with their reviews of some fascinating if misguided, even malevolent, ideas once promoted by people who should have known better.

Finally, all roads lead to Poland. Another paraphrase of an imperial boast but yes, this road leads to Warsaw, the premiere of Andrzej Wajda’s film, Wałęsa, and Małgorzata Dzieduszycka’s thoughtful review.

New York State Alliance for Arts Education Professional Development Opportunities

6 December 2013 - By

Four Regional Symposium Exploring Arts Learning and Common Core State Standards

From January through March, 2014 teachers and artists of all grade levels will explore vital information and effective strategies to meet Common Core State Standards through the ARTS@theCORE Symposia. Lead by nationally-recognized experts in arts curriculum development, each symposium will provide participants with opportunities to develop curricula in and through the arts and to network with local arts educators. Hosted in four different locations– Purchase, Dix Hills, Albany and Rochester—and providing 5.5 hours of PD credit, ARTS@theCORE meets arts educators where they are and guides them to techniques they can directly apply to their teaching. Freelance teaching artists may apply for scholarships (waived registration fee).

For more information on ARTS@theCORE, our accomplished faculty, and how to register, please click here.

Arts Connect All New York: A Mentorship Program for Arts Educators Teaching Students with Special Needs

Arts Connect All New York provides arts educators with a mentor for the Spring 2014 semester, with the goal to improve the quality of instruction provided to students with special needs. This is an unique opportunity to receive specialized, focused, one-on-one professional development from ACANY mentors, who are highly accomplished arts educators in their own right and represent four regions across the state. Additional notable features of this program include: three phone consultations, three on-site visits, self-reflective writing assignments, and a $125 stipend. For more information on the program, our exceptional mentors, and how to apply (deadline Dec 15), please click here.

Man of Hope screening

6 December 2013 - By

The Embassy of Poland in Washington, DC is showing “Wałęsa. Man of Hope” by Andrzej Wajda at the AFI/EU Film Showcase at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland on Saturday, December 7th at 1pm.


Oscar-winning Polish director Andrzej Wajda brings the story of Lech Wałęsa and the Solidarity movement to the big screen. Robert Więckiewicz (In Darkness) stars at Lech Wałęsa, while Agnieszka Grochowska shines as his loyal wife, Danuta. The sharp screenplay by Janusz Głowacki hinges on Wałęsa’s landmark 1981 interview, just months before Poland declared martial law, with Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, recounting in flashback the previous decade-and-a-half of activism; Wałęsa would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983.

On Wednesday, December 4th Lech Wałęsa returned to Capitol Hill and the U.S. Congress after 24 years and was greated by a full house of nearly 500 dignitaries. Wałęsa’s appearance coincided with the screening of the film “Wałęsa. Man of Hope” for members of Congress. The evening highlighted Solidarity’s contribution in bringing down Communism and ushering in freedom and Democracy to Central and Eastern Europe which lead to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

“This history happened in Poland first” emphasized Ambassador Ryszard Schnepf, adding that Poland and the Polish people, will never forget the word ‘Solidarity’ and the support we received, particularly from the United States in our greatest hour of need.

“I spoke at every public high school in Connecticut over the years … and I’d be asked by people, ‘Can one person change the world?’ and I used to constantly cite Lech Wałęsa, Eunice Shriver, Nelson Mandela as people who clearly changed the world,” former Senator from Connecticut and current MPAA President Christopher Dodd said during the course of the on-stage interview held before the movie screening.

“When Lech Wałęsa jumped over the wall at the Gdansk Shipyard, he took the whole world with him. The Solidarity movement brought hope and democracy to Poland, and inspired so many more around the globe, including Polish Americans in my hometown of Baltimore. The United States and Poland are united by our beliefs – in freedom, in people, and in speaking truth to power. Today, we are strong democracies, true allies, and steadfast friends.” said Senator Barbara Mikulski.

Poland – bastion of educational success

6 December 2013 - By

Poland has showed marked success in education. The World Bank recently reported that Poland now ranks 9th among all countries in overall reading scores on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, the only transition country to go from being below the OECD average on PISA to above average. The most recent The Education First (EF) English Proficiency Index ranks Poland as 8th in the world (high proficiency) in English language skills among adults.

Several articles note the basis for this success. See Poland: Education’s superpowers have a new kid on the bloc from the Sydney Morning Herald; Wittmeyer: Want to find an education miracle? Look to Poland from Newsday; and Poland imparts lesson on education to U.S. from the The Coeur d’ Alene Press. Here’s any interesting take from the Dallas Morning News: Will Texas follow the Poland model?

I want to move to Poland.


The just-released PISA exam — the Program for International Student Assessment – shows that Polish students finished ninth among developed nations in science. They also finished 10th in reading.

And the U.S. finish in those subjects? 28th and 24th, respectively.

To be sure, all these rankings can wear you out. And Wendy Kopp, the who started Teach for America, was right to suggest in her Wall Street Journal piece this week that we should not use these particular rankings as a rallying cry to go clobber other countries. Instead, we should learn from each other.

What we could learn from Poland is this: The country’s schools once were in the dumps. But Poland started using standardized tests to assess students, elevated academic rigor, wouldn’t accept poverty as an excuse and gave local schools more autonomy.

None of those reforms were put into place easily, but over time Poland’s scores went up. That includes on the PISA exam, which the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development administers. The exam focuses on applying classroom knowledge to real world problems.

There certainly is a Texas element to this story about Poland’s success. As this newspaper reported this week, the state has a
troubling number of high school students who have failed one or more end-of-course exams. As an example, 182,000 students have yet to pass last year’s English I writing exam. They get one more chance to do so this month.

The question is, what should we do about perennially failing students? Or ones who just keep struggling?

By raising this, I don’t mean more tests. The Legislature has made it clear they aren’t interested in additional end-of-course exams.

Rather, how shall the state respond to a large number of students who are behind? And how can the state keep students in the future from ending up in the same spot, assuming they don’t have learning disabilities that keep them behind?

Poland’s answer is you don’t give up on kids. It faced enormous poverty after suffering through decades of deprivation under the reign of communism. But it didn’t accept the notion that kids born into poverty couldn’t meet higher academic standards.

Amanda Ripley, author of “The Smartest Kids in the World,” noted in a recent Point Person interview that “Of all the changes Polish officials made, the one that seemed to matter most was that they held all students to more rigorous academic standards for a longer time period.”

In other words, they didn’t lowball expectations, even though plenty of students were struggling. Polish authorities even tried to get more kids out of our equivalent of vocational education.

Of course, raising expectations requires adequate resources to help teachers best reach students. The Texas Legislature must make sure that it spends smartly but adequately on students. But as Ripley also noted, Poland spends about half of what U.S. schools spend on their students. So, money alone is not the answer.

And Poland isn’t the only nation to do better while raising expectations. “Globally, the longer students stay together in demanding classes,” Ripley observed, “the better the whole country seems to do.”

So, there’s a roadmap here for Texas, or at the least start of one. The state could ease up on expectations. As an example, we could suggest that more kids go into vocational education, as some legislators pushed for this year. On the other hand, the state could keep encouraging kids to set their sights higher, as in for college or at least a two-year degree.

Poland went the high-bar route when conditions suggested otherwise. Will we?

Poet Tadeusz Dąbrowski Gives Reading at UMass Amherst

30 September 2013 - By

From the University of Massachusetts – Amherst: To mark the beginning of Polish Culture Month, Polish poet Tadeusz Dąbrowski is presenting a bilingual reading at the University of Massachusetts Amherst on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in 301 Herter Hall. The reading is being hosted by the Amesbury Professorship in Polish Language, Literature and Culture at UMass Amherst.

Born in 1979, Dąbrowski has been called “an inheritor of the great metaphysical tradition in [Polish] poetry” and “an essential factor in the picture of contemporary [Polish] verse.” Critics have described his poetry, which has been published in numerous Polish and foreign journals, as “restlessly inventive, sharp-witted, and intent on raising mischief” and as “full of love, swagger, and linguistic excitement.”

Dąbrowski is the author of seven volumes of poetry, including the bilingual collection “Black Square,” with translations by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, published in 2011 by Zephyr Press in Boston.

The event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in campus lots and at metered spaces after 5 p.m.

Black Square (New Polish Writing) (Polish Edition) (Paperback)

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News and Opportunities from the New York State Alliance for Arts Education

20 September 2013 - By

Public Review of the Draft High School Core Arts Standards

Please join the public review of drafts of the High School national core arts standards for Dance, Media Arts, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts beginning September 30 and ending October 21, 2013. Draft high school music standards for secondary ensembles will be included in the September 30th release; standards for additional music course sequences (guitar/keyboard and composition/theory) will be released later. Watch for details and information on their wikispace or Facebook page.

October 1 Deadline: Art Education Grants

The National Art Education Foundation (NAEF) annually invites applications for the Ruth Halvorsen Professional Development Grants, Mary McMullan Grants, NAEF Research Grants, SHIP Grants, and Teacher Incentive Grants. Grants range from $500 to $10,000 depending on the grant category. The Foundation was established as an independent, sister organization to the National Art Education Association (NAEA) to provide support for a variety of art education programs. Foundation grants are made only to NAEA members, including student and retired members, state/province associations, and recognized affiliates. Full info can be found here.

October 11 Deadline: NYSCA’s Musical Instrument Revolving Loan Fund

The loan program is competitive and allows access to eligible non-profit symphonies, ensembles and music organizations to apply for a low interest loan to support the purchase of musical instruments and certain equipment related to presentation and teaching of music. The purpose of the funds is “to stimulate the professional growth of musicians and symphony orchestras which provide a vital educational and cultural service to the citizens of the state. To review the MIRLF guidelines and application visit the dedicated web page.

November 1 Deadline: Award to School Board Providing “Outstanding Support”

Online nominations are now being accepted for the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network and National School Boards Association Award (KCAAEN and NSBA Award). This award recognizes a local school board for outstanding support of the arts in education. The winning board receives a plaque presented at the NSBA Annual Conference, along with a cash award of $10,000 to use for their arts education programs. Full details and nomination materials can be found online.

November 14 Deadline: Grants for Dutchess, Orange & Ulster Counties

Projects can be in any artistic discipline and may include (but are not limited to) workshops, exhibitions/studio tours, performances, community music festivals, multi-discipline collaborations and public programming whose central focus is the arts. The maximum funding request for an organization is $5,000. Arts Education Grants support residencies by artists and/or cultural organizations in a public school, and focus on sequential, skill-based knowledge. These awards are administered by the Dutchess County Arts Council. Please see their website for the complete 2014 application, guidelines and list of informational seminars.

December 15 Deadline: Inspirational Teacher Award Nominations

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is seeking nominations for the 2014 Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards, a series of annual grants that recognize inspiring teachers in the United States.The awards were created in honor of American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, who frequently attributes his success to the teachers in his life. The awards are presented each year on Sondheim’s birthday, March 22, to a handful of teachers, kindergarten through college, who are nominated via the Kennedy Center Web site.

Opportunities for Professionals

CRAVE Creators Conclave & Festival weekend, September 20-21, 2013, Syracuse, NY

Join artists in all disciplines, arts administrators, educators and students, presenters, curators, economic development stakeholders and the public for this statewide gathering. CRAVE is a unique creative gathering to inspire, explore and reward new ideas for audience engagement and empowerment. Sample Syracuse’s Connective Corridor cultural district, learn from national leaders, share best practices from your community, and see global artists like DJ Spooky. For more info and to register, please click here.

NYSTEA Educators Conference, October 4-6, 2013, Queens, NY

Register here for the annual NYSTEA Educators Conference “Making Connections: From School to School.” Enjoy 5 different workshops, welcome reception at the Roundabout Theatre Company with guest speaker writer/composter Joe DiPietro, awards luncheon, vendors and networking with like-minded professionals from across the state.

Municipal Art Society 2013 Summit, October 17-18, 2013, New York, NY

Taking Place at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the fourth annual MAS Summit for New York City will explore the themes of Innovation and Leadership. Participants will discuss the challenges that face New York, and topics will explore new and innovative ways to continue the city’s role as a global urban leader, while also covering issues of resilience and the city’s livability. Please see their website for more information.

National Guild’s annual Conference for Community Arts Education, October 30 – November 2, 2013, Chicago, IL

This gathering will bring together more than 500 arts education leaders from 350+ organizations nationwide. Join this dynamic learning community of staff, faculty, trustees, and teaching artists to forge the future of arts education in America. The conference will feature nationally renowned speakers and dozens of professional development and networking opportunities designed to help you increase participation and impact, raise more money, sustain and grow key programs, and advocate for equitable access to arts education. Register online.

National Artist Teacher Fellowship Program

The Center for Arts in Education invites arts teachers from public arts high schools to apply for funding for artistic development through its National Artist Teacher Fellowship Program (NATF). The NATF program provides grants of $5,500 to enable selected arts teachers from all disciplines to rejuvenate their own art-making. A complementary grant of $1,500 is awarded to each Fellow’s school to support post-fellowship activities in the classroom. Applications will be available online by September 27.

Opportunities for Students

October 2 Deadline: Student Entries for Rochester Student Showcase

The Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester announces the Student Showcase 2013 call for entries, an opportunity for its student members to submit their original work to a juried exhibition at The Gallery at the Arts & Cultural Council. Students from all visual art disciplines are encouraged to submit their work for consideration. Exhibition dates will be November 1–26. Use this on-line entry form.

October 18 Deadline: Young Arts Award

YoungArts provides emerging artists (ages 15-18 or grades 10-12) with life-changing experiences with renowned mentors, access to significant scholarships, national recognition, and other opportunities throughout their careers to help ensure that the nation’s most outstanding young artists are encouraged to pursue careers in the arts. Support is offered in ten artistic disciplines: cinematic arts, dance, design, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice and writing. Students should apply here.

By applying to the YoungArts program, winners are eligible for:

  • Up to $10,000 monetary award (total awarded each year is over $500,000)
  • Exclusive eligibility for recognition as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts
  • Master classes with world-renowned artists
  • Access to scholarships, career opportunities and professional contacts

Job Opportunities

Access the newest and freshest jobs available to professionals seeking employment through NYSAAE’s JOBlink.

The Cosmopolitan Review – Summer Edition

28 June 2013 - By

The Cosmopolitan Review, A Transatlantic Review of Things Polish, in English has issued its Summer 2013 edition jam packed with books, art, poetry, events, and excellent information.

CR welcomes summer, as does Poland. And nowhere is the summer solstice more beautifully welcomed than in Poland, with the ancient festival of Wianki (wreaths), when barefoot girls in white dresses bring floral wreaths to a river’s edge, cast them in the water, and leave them to fate’s caprice.

The wianki, elaborate works of art involving branches, flowers and candles, float downriver to the delight of children and adults alike. More wreaths are fashioned into floral crowns embellished with figures of birds, butterflies and anything else the artistic imagination can come up with. Extravagance has no limits on this day; the hats of Ascot pale by comparison perhaps because wianki – as opposed to hats – is not a commercial enterprise. One can only hope that this festival will forever stay as it is, that Hallmark will never create Wianki greeting cards, and shopping malls will never have Wianki Day Specials. Though purveyors of food, drink and music are welcome. And we’ve just learned that there is a Wianki fest in Washington, D.C. Good to know in case you don’t make it to Kraków next year.

Luckily, “Poland” is wherever Polish people are, as is stated so eloquently in Hanka Ordonówna’s wonderful book about children when their Poland was just “two rooms.” For thousands of us, Poland has been, at one time or another, in India, Africa, New Zealand, Mexico and beyond.

Tulacze dzieci (polish) (Paperback)

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In this issue, we highlight India, mainly because of the marvelous book by Indian author Anuradha Bhattacharjee, The Second Homeland: Polish Refugees in India. That Polish landscape included elephants, exotic fruit, generous Maharajas and a superb cast of characters ranging from cabaret stars to theosophists.

The Second Homeland: Polish Refugees in India (Hardcover)

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Books, as always. Michał Kasprzak weighs in on Marci Shore’s The Taste of Ashes; there’s a review of Magda Romanska’s new anthology of Bogusław Schaeffer’s works. And two writers have a problem with Agata Tuszyńska’s Vera Gran.

The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe (Hardcover)

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Boguslaw Schaeffer: An Anthology (Paperback)

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Vera Gran-The Accused (Hardcover)

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On the light side, an Englishman’s adventures – misadventures? – begin with his future bride’s father saying “No.” He also notes that while English weddings are heavy on speeches, Polish weddings emphasize food and dancing. He indulges in the eternal rivalry between Kraków and Warsaw as well, so to cool that, CR puts the spotlight on enchanting Zamość.

Polska Dotty: Carp in the Bathtub, Throttled Buglers, and Other Tales of an Englishman in Poland (Paperback)

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And now to food! As noted in The Guardian: No processed cheeses, no tinned fish, no just-add-water packets… think Provence, with beetroot. Which brings us to two new Polish cookbooks, Polish Classic Desserts and From a Polish Country Kitchen, both reviewed in this issue.

Polish Classic Desserts (Classics) (Hardcover)

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From a Polish Country House Kitchen: 90 Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food (Hardcover)

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Finally, as noted above, Poland is wherever Polish people are and for several summers they were in Canmore, Alberta, at Poland in the Rockies. There were fond hopes that a new cycle of this lively symposium would begin again in 2014 but fate decided otherwise. In this issue, CR bids a formal Farewell to Poland in the Rockies.



…and the rest

July 2015
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