“The Blizzard”

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My father Bohdan Kurowski left memoirs that I’ve been editing for the past 16 months or so.  Some of those recollections depict  father’s childhood, including his forced exile, at the age of six, to Kazakhstan—as part of the Soviet deportations of Poles during the war. The Column presents excerpts from those memoirs, translated into English. Thank you for reading.

 

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Abusing the Most Vulnerable

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So sad and disappointing.  Bernie Sanders ties gun violence with mental illness, IGNORING the fact that such violence is FAR MORE FREQUENT among the so-called NORMAL people.  Mentally ill people are repeatedly (and habitually) scapegoated by politicians to detract attention from systemic flaws that make average—or “normal”—Americans angry and afraid.   STOP ABUSING ILL PEOPLE, BERNIE  SANDERS AND OTHERS! They need your help, not libeling!

Proportionally, the mentally ill are FAR LESS AGGRESSIVE than the people not diagnosed with mental illness.  And yet almost every commentator in the USA labels them as culprits after a major gun-violence incident.

What is it, stupidity, laziness, or ill will?

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Talented Daughter, Brave Mother

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Cover_Final_7.1_Ansicht.inddIn the most recent interview in The Column I present two extraordinary persons.  One of them is a young artist Justyna Palka, the other her mother Malgorzata Palka, the author of a biographical album about Justyna, titled She Simply Disappeared.  Sadly, Justyna Palka died tragically a few years ago.  Recalling her daughter’s life and accomplishments, Malgorzata recounts a story of pain but also of a life that keeps shining beyond death.  It is a story of beauty, courage, and endurance.

Please take a few moments to read my conversation with Malgorzata Palka.

 

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“You Who Wronged” by Czesław Miłosz

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It may be helpful to remember in this difficult time the powerful poem “You Who Wronged” by Czesław Miłosz (in Richard Lourie’s translation):

 

You who wronged a simple man
Bursting into laughter at the crime,
And kept a pack of fools around you
To mix good and evil, to blur the line,

Though everyone bowed down before you,
Saying virtue and wisdom lit your way,
Striking gold medals in your honor,
Glad to have survived another day,

Do not feel safe.
(…)

 

The entire poem can be found at the Poetry Foundation

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Interview with Naomi Gladish Smith

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V as in Victor

Naomi Gladish Smith was born in England of American parents who returned to the U.S. with their family at the beginning of World War II. Three of her novels, The Arrivals, The Wanderers, and The Searchers use Swedenborgian beliefs to explore what the afterlife might be like. The Searchers was a finalist in USA Best Books 2011 – Visionary Fiction category. Naomi’s most recent book, V as in Victor, is a memoir about her father. Her essays and short stories appeared in JAMA, The Christian Science Monitor, Soundings Review, and elsewhere; she also read her essays on WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR station.
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V as in Victor by Naomi Gladish Smith
eLectio Publishing 2014

read the interview

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Contained

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Contained:

Accumulation (a gentle word for organized hoarding) breeds containers. I am in a container that contains containers.

Plastic containers containing plastic goods, all made of petroleum for which we have been waging wars. A collection of containers for food, contained in my closets and the refrigerator. A container for CDs with contents. Negatives kept in plastic roll-containers kept in a plastic box kept in a drawer kept in a desk kept in a room kept in an apartment kept in a building. A container for garbage.

A container that will contain whatever is left of my body after I die. I do hope my relatives empty the container – so that my remnants are free. But there is a problem, the container will stay with my relatives. Please, put my ashes in a brown paper-bag and burn the bag after you scatter my ashes. Then scatter the ashes of the container.

©JK

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Posted in Musings. 1 Comment »

Pilsen Snow

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418Kolin_Philip_COVIn mid-2015 Philip C. Kolin, the editor of the Southern Quarterly and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern Mississippi, published his seventh collection of poems Pilsen Snow: Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2015). Kolin’s poems emerge “from a personal and collective history” of Pilsen, a large Czech neighborhood on the near west side of Chicago which in the early part of the 20th Century “boasted having the second largest Czech population in the world.” In The Column, Kolin talks about the complexities of maintaining a Czech identity in America, evoking the people, places, and historical events, and even the language of his childhood. These Czech immigrants and their descendants had to “live in two worlds at once.”

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To read the conversation with Philip C. Kolin, about Pilsen Snow, click here or on the book’s cover

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