Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Meet Paul Polansky

To many readers the name of Paul Polansky may not register, indeed to most people of whom I have spoken about him to their is always a confusion with Roman Polanski - note the spelling variation - but to those familiar with north Kosovo, they will know him as a man, an activist, and a poet of controversy.

And a few people in the Czech Republic will not forget him either.

So, who and what is this poet?

He first came to prominence with the Lety concentration camp allegations with his book Black Silence, highlighting the Czech running of the camp, not German running during WWII.

The camps inmates predominantly were Roma, known to us in the west as Gypsies.

After this he came to Serbia, around the time of the Kosovo war, and worked in Nis and in Mitrovica in Kosovo where he is to this day. His poems highlight the crises the Roma live in wherever he comes across them, and his work is hard-hitting and truthful.

Unfortunately he does not rhyme, but I'm sure that makes translation easier. Here I post some of his poems for your perusal:


'We're not Gypsies,the darkskinned man pleaded,
trying to save his family.
'We came from Egypt
over a thousand years ago".

'Then go back
to your pyramids.'
the KLA soldier yelled.
"Kosovo is only
for Albanians."


Gazman showed me the camp
where the Serb army
had held several thousand Gypsies
until the end of the war.

The barbed wire fence was gone.
So were the old newspapers
and flattened cardboard boxes
the people had slept on
for more than two months.

Gazman's eyes
turned away
from the field now covered
in ankle-high grass.

"It was too cold," he said,
"to remember any details,
I tried to keep a journal,
but my mind was too numb
to move the pen."


is now Kosovo's July 4th.

People parade in open-top cars
waving red Albanian flags.

Shots are fired into the air
while hand grenades are thrown
into homes where
Gypsies still live.

Independence Day fireworks
in Kosovo

are for real.


Page on Facebook
Wikippedia Entry
Text of book Blackbirds of Kosovo


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