14.02.2021 Sunday

“Wrocław Cultural Guide”: Let’s go for a walk, fellow people-eaters

If you work from a home office, like Tadeusz Różewicz did throughout his life, you should certainly heed his lesson and walk as often as you can. For February, we have a special walk in the footsteps of the Wrocław poet and the patron of the year 2021.

fot. Aleksandra Błędowska

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Out of a suitcase

For the first years of his stay in Wrocław, Różewicz lived on noisy Gliniana Street, next to a children’s dentist’s clinic. Later on, he moved to Januszowicka Street in Krzyki, which turned out to be just a bit quieter. First he complained about:

the iron strikes of streetcars
against the pavement
the blows of a hammer
on the staircase

after waking up

and then about his DIY-obsessed neighbours. It wasn’t until 2003 that he moved to a detached home on Promień Street. It’s no wonder that one could randomly encounter him in places where you can forget that it is a city of almost a million people – in parks and gardens.

In the garden of arts

photo: bonczekhydroforgroup, from collection of Wratislaviae Amici polska-org.pl

The morning walks and conversations with the poet, who ironically commented on current events are something that Prof. Janusz Degler, expert on Witkacy’s works and Różewicz’s old companion fondly remembers. The South Park [Park Południowy] can be found in several of Różewicz’s poems – one of which features almost romantic passages that diverge from his typical style:

I wanted to describe
in South Park
I wished to paint
black chrysanthemums
oxidized by hoar-frost

In another one, he mentions a homeless man sleeping on one of the benches.This favourite place for walks was also immortalised in Tadeusz Różewicz’s paintings – he painted several views of the park on polypores.

With the poet among animals

photo: Marcin Jędrzejczak

In a letter to his friend and literary scholar Prof. Ryszard Przybylski, Różewicz wrote that he would rather go to the zoo than to the SPATiF café. When Przybylski came to visit, devastated after the loss of his mother, Różewicz took him to the zoo. For the next 30 years they would reminisce about the toucan Toto, whose black wings impressed them the most. The zoo was a source of inspiration for the poet. In one of the poems, he highlights:

… a strange
species of ape
these apes are wrapped in various
colored cloths
and they’re bare
they have hair only on their heads
they carry their young in little carts

they’re always drinking eating laughing

Montmartre in Wrocław

Stare Jatki is a street in Wrocław, which back in the day housed butchers’ stalls, and these days it houses the head office of the Association of Polish Artists and Designers, galleries and studios, which led to a new moniker – the Montmartre in Wrocław. Różewicz was particularly interested in the monument In honour of Slaughtered Animals which depicts a pig, a piglet, a goat, a calf, a rabbit, a duck and a cockerel. In his poem Świniobicie the poet demanded a monument for its protagonist, and he even let himself be photographed on Jatki Street on all fours, as one of the animals.

Graphic design and theatre along the way

Zdjęcie, fasada Muzeum Pana Tadeuszaphoto: Marcin Szczygieł

The walk ends in the Market Square, where we can find a number of places that Różewicz considered important. These include the studio in the Engraver’s House, which belonged to Eugeniusz Get-Stankiewicz, the poet’s good friend and fellow author, the editorial office of “Odra” magazine, where his texts were often published, as well as the Contemporary Theatre, which often staged his dramas. Nearby, in the Pan Tadeusz Museum, there are personal items belonging to Tadeusz Różewicz, which, together with his manuscripts, book collection and theatrical items, are in the possession of the Ossoliński National Institute. They will be shown in a permanent exhibition at the museum in autumn 2021, on the centenary of the poet’s birth.

Collected by: Maria Marszałek, Marcin Szyjka
(Pan Tadeusz Museum)

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Translations of quotes:
Piotr Zazula, Bill Johnston

Quotes from:

Jatki [w:] Czerwona rękawiczka, 1948
Decybele [w:] Regio, 1969
Wiersz [w:] Na powierzchni poematu i w środku, 1983
Francis Bacon czyli Diego Velázquez w fotelu dentystycznym [w:] zawsze fragment, 1996
Widziałem Go [w:] zawsze fragment. recykling, 1998
Nosorożec [w:] Wyjście, 2004

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