Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions Elizą. I am part Polish too, so where in Poland did you grow up?
I was brought up in Tomaszowie Mazowieckim, an area of central Poland. I have always been surrounded by lovely nature, which beauty I have always enjoyed and benefited from. I have wonderful parents who have always tried to protect me from the bad things in this world and in my childhood and young life my beloved grandfather was my mentor; his love for me was unbelievable. But one thing that was missing in the region was the theatre, which I have always loved.
Were there things growing up that still influences your writing now?
The past always flows into the present. That does not mean that I write about my life, but our experiences undoubtedly determine the way we see the world. My grandfather often talked about the war
so, after many years, something awoke in me, a need to shout in my writing about the pain of people who lived through that nightmare. As a consequence of my grandpa’s stories, my new book is titled:
”In memory of those taken by the holocaust and those who still remember”.
Also, as a person who has always been fascinated by the theatre, I was lucky in my youth to meet a married couple of actors I made friends with and with whom I discussed art for many hours, and I think that time with them helped me in my writing of melodrama (Prześwity, 2015) and farce (Tandem, 2017). I have always liked to observe people and, in my literary output, people are most important.
Can you remember writing down your early structured words at school?
No, I didn't really write anything when I was very young. It wasn't until later I started to write poems – so to say, to the drawer – but it was sporadic and I kept it a secret. A few years ago, when clearing up, I decided to throw most of them away, keeping about five or six compositions as I felt sentimental about them, and decided to publish one of them in my latest book of poems Chmurnoś – The poem written twenty years earlier appears suddenly... hasn’t the world changed much since then and was my outlook on the world similar back then to what it is now?
Did you have a love of words back then?
Yes, words have always been important to me. I love poetry, it's beautiful that I can relish it. As I write in one of my poems: “Beautiful is the world when painted with the music of words”. Thanks to words we can talk and we can try to understand the world and the people in it. Words have always played an important role, not only informative, they carry with them deeper meaning, a more important message. Over time I wanted more to understand the meaning of words – spoken and written. Though sometimes we do not need any words to get the message; yet, the shown emotions sugest only a condition but do not explain its reason.
Did you go to University?
I studied philosophy at Jagiellonian University in Cracow and finished my diploma in philosophy and culture and, in 2016, I graduated from the Faculty of Litarature and Arts. During my studies of philosophy I practised logic, I deepend so called “truth” and looked for answers to people's most important questions. During my education at the Art School, I made the most of my imagination thanks to which I wandered on paths of fiction and put together all the elements of truth and thoughts into one wholeness.
Does writing take up a lot of your time?
Yes, definitely, my writing and all that it entails takes up a great deal of my time.
Tell me about your very first writing engagement.
As a young poet, my debut was a collection of poems titled: Romans z sobą (2013). After a twenty-odd year break I returned to writing down my thoughts. I have never planned for these to be published, but things turned out differently. Sometimes life is full of surprises! On the path of my life I met professor Józef Lipiec – supervisor of my MA thesis to whom I showed a selection of my poems. He said I should have them published. I was so amazed when I heard these word again from yet another person, although at that time I was not convinced that they were right. I changed my mind when another person, professor Krzysztof Tomasz Witczak of the Lodz University wrote to me asking if I would like to publish some of my poems in a new newspaper. It was then that the decision was made. And so, a few months later “Romans z sobą” was published with a preface written by professor Piotr Mróz from the Jagiellonian University.
Tell me about the other projects you are currently working on.
I have just finished a new book of poetry, my sixth publication. The text is at the publisher's now and I hope, before too long, it will make its way to the readers.
What really inspires your?
Mostly I am inspired by people; their happiness, sadness, anxieties... a man in the world and, to the man (in its general sense) I give my voice. For example, I write about a girl in a wheelchair
– about people imprisoned by infirmity and trying to help themselves. I also write about love, real love. I write poems about time and about the fight of a person with time.
Sometimes I would like to turn back the clock and, as I write in one of my poems: “Life is not a pendulum/ and never comes back”. In Chmurność there are a few poems which I call war ones – although I did not live during the wartime, recently the motive prevails in my works, and I feel that I must speak out on behalf of those who cannot do it.
What is the process of transforming that initial moment of inspiration, or idea, into actual words on paper?
It is just on the daily basis, in a car, or while walking that I wonder what I shall write about. I look for an inspiration, and often the only thing needed to write a poem is just one word, but not any word but just the very particular one. The word begins to live within me and then I’m trying to put it in context. That does not mean that a poem will be created just after the word ’comes’ to me. Sometimes I ’carry the word’ knowing that sooner or later it will become a longer text. It happend with the word ’telepathy’, ’aqueduct’. They are not any sophisticated words, but for me they became canvas for words Żelazko and Akwedukt. I am not a person who is able to write on a given topic, I do not write custom-made poems. I can only write when the verse ’comes’ to me. It is compeletly different with prose. You can describe any situation, any topic can be your inspiration. Then I’m not scarse with words, quite contrary to what I do with my poems. Of course you can describe anything in poetry but with different methods. In poetry, in my opinion, you should leave your reader some space to stop, to brood, to evoke emotions, associations, to play on his imagination. It’s just the secluded space of undertones that should be the contents of unfinished thoughts.
Do you have a particular writing location?
No, I don't have a special place to write; of course there are places that I prefer to others, but it doesn’t mean that I cannot write there. I happened to write a poem in a street because i knew that if I didn’t write down my thougts the poem would fade away, just escape me.
Name your THREE most favourite books and why.
It's hard to name just three of my most favourite ones, but definitely there are some worth comming back to. I really like Dwór (Manor House) and Spuściznę (Heritage) by Izaak Singer and also Lalkę (The Doll) by Bolesław Prus. There are greatly outlined relations between people and tradition in those books, and the characters are very well built. In Lalka the author describes the goneby Warsaw in masterly way. For me, those works are the world’s heritage that I can know thanks to ther contents. The immensity of the described traditions and the culture of those days is, in some sense - for the readers – the heritage of times gone by, the door to the epoch which we read about only in books.
Lastly... what does writing MEAN to you?
Writing is a part of my life, I cannot say if is neccessity. Something attracts me to words. I write because I like it.
Translated from Polish to English by Halina Szymanska.
Thanks so much Elizą, and thank you for your wonderful contribution to EMPOWERMENT. Don't stop writing!