Bożena Umińska-Keff

Bożena Umińska-Keff

Poet, essayist, journalist, film critic. She studied the Polish language and philosophy at the University of Warsaw. She defended her interdisciplinary Doctoral thesis at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. She now gives lectures in Gender Studies at the University of Warsaw and at other institutions. She has published, among other works: “Postać z cieniem. Portrety Żydówek w polskiej literaturze od końca XIX wieku do 1939 roku” (A Figure with a Shadow. Portraits of Jewish Women in Polish Literature from the End of the Nineteenth Century to 1939, 2001), her collection of critical texts “Barykady. Kroniki obsesyjne” (The Barricades. Obsessive Chronicles, 2006) and the poetic works “Razem Osobno” (Together Alone, 1986), “Sen o znaczeniu snow” (A Dream About the Meanings of Dreams, 1994), “Nie jest gotowy” (It’s Not Ready, 2000), and “Utwór o matce i ojczyźnie” (A Work about Mother and the Homeland, 2008). This last work is the story of the life a mother who has been saved from the Holocaust, and about the life of her daughter, whom the mother imprisons in her own suffering; it is a literary attempt to work through the trauma of the Holocaust, which children hold on to as an inheritance from their parents. Keff rarely publishes, but she has a sizable following of loyal readers. Her poems are lyrical, philosophic travels in time, with complex narrations, oscillating between the world of dreams and sharply drawn historical and social realities. Her essays and opinion articles have been published in periodicals including “Res Publika Nowa”, “Gazeta Wyborcza”, “Ex Libris”, “Twórczość”, “Kresy”, “Midrasz”, and “Zadra”. Bożena Umińska pens her literary works under the name Bożena Keff. She says of herself, “I am a leftist of my own accord. I have no nationality. I have always had a European identity. If I had to speak about my what nationality I belong to today, I would certainly say that I feel most like a Jewish woman, but that is an identification that results from social contexts.” She lives in Warsaw. She will be a guest of Anna Marchewka at the Second Joseph Conrad Literary Festival at the meeting entitled “Historie rodzinne” (Family Histories), with the participation of Inga Iwasiów and Joanna Bator.