5 November 2010 Women’s meeting and family stories at Klub Pod Jaszczurami

Thursday’s meeting at Klub Pod Jaszczurami passed under the slogan “Family stories”. Anna Marchewka’s guests were three outstanding Polish novel writers and poets of clearly feministic views: Inga Iwasiów, Bożena Umińska-Keff and Joanna Bator. The latter postponed her trip to Japan especially for the Conrad Festival. Beata Stasińska and Ewa Kuryluk, who hosted yesterday’s “Atlas of women”, also sat in the audience, which completely filled the room. The author of “Tuwim’s Faces”, Piotr Matywiecki, joined the discussion; today, he will take part in the meeting dedicated to Izaak Cylkow at Synagoga Wysoka [High Synagogue].

The first questions, both of the host and the participants of the panel, were an attempt at specifying the subject of the meeting and defining what “family stories” actually are, as well as whether “women’s writing”, as opposed to men’s, exists. Inga Iwasiów declared: “It isn’t the fact that nowadays good-hearted family stories aren’t created, that they have been displaced by post-Freudian narrations. Well-mannered stories are still written, however, which do not pose unmannered and inconvenient questions”. Bożena Umińska-Keff suggested that the condition of the family has a great impact on the picture of culture – “a family like culture” – she said. The author of “Pieskowa góra” spoke about how in her intellectual and artistic searches, she attempts to find “other forms, apart from family, of developing being with another person; ones that will hurt the least”. She spoke poignantly about the fascination with not only family itself, but family genealogy. She emphasised that in her case, fascination with family doesn’t have an autobiographical character and is a fascination resulting from its lack, from the need of creating a linear story. “There were shreds, small sentences somewhere in the memory, there were places, burned homes, memories of people, of which not even a photograph remained”. In the opinion of the author of “Piaskowa góra”, one must look for the beginnings of her literary searches somewhere there.

Together, the participants of the panel tried to work out one formula which best described their prose and poetry stories. Inga Iwasiów considered Anna Marchewka’s proposition with great interest, to define her stories as brawls. The author of “Utwór o matce i ojczyźnie” – Bożena Umińska-Keff argued: “I’m not a brawler. I’m a rebel! In creating poetically ordered statements, I pursue thought-through rebellion, effective, somewhat philosophical”. In answer to Anna Marchewka’s question about whether it is possible to leave outside the family story, Bator said: “We are not imprisoned by one story. I always felt power that I could create my own. Cover the scar with a story like a band aid and protect it”.

The special guests of the meeting also agreed that feminism has ceased to be an ideology for them, but has become a certain way of looking at the world. Warmed up with further questions from the audience, the discussion would have certainly continued on, if it weren’t for next festival meetings planned at Klub Pod Jaszczurami that evening.