Friday, August 19, 2016

"The Rainy Bread: Poems from Exile" ... of Poles Deported to Siberia and Displaced by War


by Maja Trochimczyk. Moonrise Press, August 2016

ISBN 9781945938009, paperback, 64 pages, $10.00
ISBN 9781945938016eBook, $10.00

Moonrise Press announces the publication of “The Rainy Bread: Poems of Exile” by Maja Trochimczyk. This volume includes 30 poems about forgotten stories of Poles living in the Eastern Borderlands of Kresy, who were killed, deported, imprisoned, or oppressed after the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union on September 17, 1939.  Some of these brief portraits capture the trauma and resilience, ordeals and miraculous survival stories of the author’s immediate family. Her maternal family comes from Baranowicze and the surrounding area near Adam Mickiewicz’s Nowogródek and the mythical lake of Świteź in what is now Belarus. Their experiences of displacement, hunger, cold, and poverty during the war are typical of Polish civilians. 

These fictionalized memories are coupled with depictions of survival of other Poles deported to Siberia, the Arctic Circle, or Kazakhstan; who left the Soviet Union with the Second Corps of the Polish Army under General Władysław Anders; were transported to refugee camps in India or Africa; and ended up in Argentina, Canada, Australia or the U.S. The book is a companion to “Slicing the Bread: Children’s Survival Manual in 25 Poems” (Finishing Line Press, 2014), with which it shares some poems, including vignettes from the author’s childhood in Warsaw, permeated by the strange rhetoric of the Polish People’s Republic, yet still overshadowed by the war.


≡ ABOUT THIS BOOK 

Unwavering in its honesty, The Rainy Bread is a thought-provoking look at a brutal chapter in history: the Soviet occupation of Poland during World War II and the deportations and repressions that took place in the country's Easter Borderlands, known as Kresy. Trochimczyk gives a public face to this history but also reveals the private heart of a family that endures despite horrific loss.  With simple language and stark imagery, these poems create a powerful testimony and bear witness to the hate that destroys, to the truth that restores, and to the poetic vision that honors our common humanity.

Linda Nemec Foster, author of Amber Necklace from Gdańsk (LSU Press), 
winner of the Creative Arts Award from the Polish American Historical Association

Maja Trochimczyk’s poems draw you into a bestial, almost inconceivable history.  Using objects—bread, potatoes, trapdoors, high heels—she guides you through an experience with the madness of World War II and its aftermath when a dictator is judged worse or better by how many fewer millions he has slaughtered. This book needed to be written.  This is a fascinating, tragic, and instructive time in history which should not me neglected. Trochimczyk doesn’t lecture; you are riveted by the power of her poems; their narratives flow from her hands as if a Babcia were still guiding them. And maybe she was. You will remember the taste of this book.

Sharon Chmielarz, author of Love from the Yellowstone Trail




≡ LIST OF POEMS 

PART I DESTINATIONS ≡ 1
1.             What to Carry ≡ 2
2.             Starlight ≡ 3
3.             Charlie, Who Did  Not Cross ≡ 4
4.             Five Countries in Venice ≡ 6
5.             Eyes on the Road ≡ 8
6.             The Baton ≡ 9
7.             Diamonds ≡ 10

PART II THERE AND NOWHERE ≡ 11

             The Odds ≡ 12
              Wołyń ≡ 13
1            Kołyma ≡ 15
              Amu Darya ≡ 16
1            Shambhala ≡ 18
1            Reflection ≡ 20
          A Piece of Good Advice to Stuff in the Hole  in the Wall ≡ 21
             A Pilot in Pakistan ≡ 22
 .           Under African Sky ≡ 23

≡ ≡ ≡ PART III THE HUNGER DAYS ≡ 25

            Kasha ≡ 26
           The Trap Door ≡ 27
            Slicing the Bread ≡ 29
             Peeling the Potatoes ≡ 30

  ≡ ≡ ≡ PART IV THERE AND BACK ≡ 33

2        Of Trains and Tea ≡ 34
          Once Upon a Time in Baranowicze ≡ 35
                    Ciocia Tonia ≡ 37
          Asters ≡ 39
          No Chicken ≡ 41
          The Coat ≡ 43
          Short Legs ≡ 44
                    Standing Guard ≡ 46
          Losing Irena ≡ 47
          Language ≡ 48





  INTRODUCTION 

  • My previous book of war-themed poems, Slicing the Bread (Finishing Line Press, 2014) was prefaced with a rhetorical question: “If I were born in Warsaw, a city that lost 700,000 of its inhabitants, shouldn’t I at least try to remember some of them? The 450,000 Jews and 250,000 non-Jewish Poles died before October 1944, when everyone left in Warsaw after the Uprising was expelled to deportee or labor camps, while the buildings of an empty city were dynamited into a sea of ruins.”  Then, the Soviets came…

  • This chapbook, written for the Kresy-Siberia Conference in Warsaw in September 2016, takes the story further east and around the world as it traces the displacement of deportees, their ordeals and miraculous survival stories. After the war, my parents, Aleksy Trochimczyk (25 September 1927 – 11 May 2001) and Henryka Teresa Trochimczyk, née Wajszczuk (16 December 1929 – 4 July 2013) came from provincial villages and towns in the Easter Borderlands, or Kresy, to study engineering at the Polytechnical University of Warsaw. They met while picking bricks off the ruined streets of Warsaw (“The Coat”). My father’s family was Belarussian, with roots in the Ukraine and beyond; during the war, they were hungry and impoverished, but  stayed on the family farm in Bielewicze, now in Poland. 

  • My mother’s family of Polish gentry and city folk living in Baranowicze and the surrounding area near Adam Mickiewicz’s Nowogródek and the mythical lake of Świteź in what is now Belarus, was particularly affected by the deportations: the families Wajszczuk, Wasiuk, Ignatowicz, Gliński, Hordziejewski…Six poems are based on the memories of grandmothers and great aunts, my mother and father. “Slicing the Bread” documents my Mom’s obsession with saving and hoarding food, due to the years of war-time hunger. “The Trap Door” commemorates my Dad’s family survival in an isolated hamlet of Bielewicze near Gródek Białostocki. It was so close to the forest, it was constantly scoured for food by the “partisans” – but also fed the Germans, and the Soviets when they came. I admired the courage and resilience of my Belorussian Babcia, Nina Trochimczyk, née Niegierysz. 

  • “The Odds” is about my Mom’s uncles, Catholic priests. Father Karol Wajszczuk (1887 –  1942) was a prisoner of the Lublin Castle since April 1940. He was moved to Sachsenhausen and then to Dachau, on December 14, 1940. He died on 28 May 1942 in the Castle Hartheim: in a gas chamber, originally built to exterminate the disabled in the Euthanasia program and later used to kill prisoners from Dachau. His father, Piotr, was the brother of Franciszek, the patriarch of the Wajszczuk-Trochimczyk family branch, and the father of Stanisław Marcin Wajszczuk (1895-1973), my grandfather from the village of Trzebieszów in Podlasie. Father Feliks Wajszczuk (b. 1902 – d. 1973), Karol’s cousin, was in Sachenhausen, then in Dachau since 14 December 1940. He was liberated by Americans on 25 May 1945 and spent the rest of his life in a monastery in France. 

  • In my poem, Karol and Feliks are paired up with another set of brothers, Artur Gold (1897-1943) and Henryk Gold (1902-1977), Jewish composers and musicians from Warsaw.  Henryk survived by joining the musicians of the Second Corps of the Polish Army commanded by General Władysław Anders (1892-1970). Artur died in Treblinka. The group of Jewish musicians included Henryk Wars (Henry Vars, 1902-1977, “The Baton”) and many other survivors.

  • My Grandma and her sisters, my Mom’s maternal aunts, appear in several poems. Babcia Maria Anna Wajszczuk, born Wasiuk (1906-1973) in Baranowicze, wore her head high in the peasant village (“No Chicken”) and taught me the skill of “Peeling the Potatoes.”  

  • Ciocia Tonia, or Antonina Glińska lost her husband to a Soviet bullet, and survived exile to Siberia, to return to Poland in 1954. Alas, her sons did not do as well: the older lost his life, drowning in Yenisey, the younger, indoctrinated in Soviet schools, lost his soul to  a  career  in  economics, the government, and PZPR. 

  • Aunt Antonina is commemorated in “Ciocia Tonia” and her sister, Ciocia Irena, married name de Belina, appears in “Losing Irena.” She was deported with her whole family, and came to America as an orphan, whose path from Siberia through Iran, Switzerland to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico never ceased to amaze me.  

  • Ciocia Jadzia, married name Hordziejewska, was resettled with her noble-born husband, Dominik in the early 1950s. They were sent from their estate near the lake Świteź to a drab settlement house in Gdańsk-Oliwa, emptied of its German inhabitants (who, in turn, were resettled further West). Their portraits are in “Asters.” More details may be found on the family tree, www.wajszczuk.v.pl, compiled by Waldemar Wajszczuk and Barbara Miszta, née Wajszczuk of Trzebieszów.

  • In addition to these rich and varied  reprinted four poems based on my own childhood experiences in Warsaw, the capital of the socialist Polish People’s Republic where I went to school and wondered about the shadow of the war: “Short Legs,” “The Coat,” “Standing Guard,” and “What to Carry.” Even though these poems focus on my native Warsaw, the intergenerational trauma that they express stems from my Mom’s experience escaping from Soviet-occupied Baranowicze back to German-occupied Poland.

  • A sizeable portion of new poems commemorate deportees to Siberia and Central Asia. “Eyes on the Road” is based on an episode in the life of Roma King, author of Footsteps in the Snow: A True Story of One Family's Journey Out of Siberia (2010). Carlos (or Charlie) Stalgis (“Charlie, Who Did Not Cross”) was born in Argentina and his family took the unsuccessful trek to the Polish border from the environs of Baranowicze (“Charlie, Who Did Not Cross”), while my grandparents, Mom, and uncle made it across the river Bug (“Starlight”). 

  • Baranowicze was also where the father of Lucyna Przasnyski had his roots (“Once Upon a Time in Baranowicze”). As a child deportee, Andrzej Dąbrowa took the infernal boat-ride along Amu Darya to the Aral Sea. Zofia Janczur had diamonds hidden in her shoes that saved the life of her whole family. Roma King waited for her Dad to come and get them, and he did (“Eyes on the Road”). 

  • I heard their stories during an event about Sybiracy organized for the Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club in Los Angeles by Dorota Olszewska, herself an heir of Polish deportees to Siberia, repatriated to Szczecin (Stettin). On a sunny afternoon of June 5, 2016, they were joined by other survivors, Zofia Cybulska-Adamowicz, Wiesław Adamowicz and Elżbieta Nowicka in revealing their painful memories of Siberia or Kazakhstan (“On Trains and Tea,” “A Piece of Good Advice…” and “Kasha.”)  The four pathways to California in “Five Countries in Venice” were shared by Carlos Stalgis, Roman Solecki, and Stefan Wiśniowski, the founder of Kresy-Siberia Virtual Museum and the Facebook Group that brought us together. 

  • Another poem, “Under African Sky” emerged from the biography of painter Julian Stanczak (b. 1928) who lost the use of his right hand in a Soviet gulag, and re-invented himself as an artist in the refugee camp in Masindi, Uganda. The “tiger’s eye” I put in his hand is fictional but reflects the main idea of a re-oriented, yet immensely creative life. The Polish American Historical Association gave him theirs Creative Arts Prize in 2014 and thus I was introduced to his sublime and monumental and art. 

  • At the Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles I watched an astounding documentary about Polish pilots training the new Pakistani Air Force. Established in 1947 during the division of India, the Moslem Pakistan needed help in creating its military; a task assisted by about 30 Polish pilots, veterans of the Battle of Britain. Polish Eaglets Over Pakistan (Polskie orlęta na pakistańskim niebie) presented their stories and the two vivacious female pilots particularly impressed me.

  • The suffering of the Polish victims of massacres by Ukrainians in the region of “Wołyń” (Volhynia, Волинь, since 1945 in Soviet Union, since 1991 in the Ukraine) only recently started to attract any attention. It was, and is, a political hot potato, just like the Armenian genocide by the Turks. 
  • The region of Kołyma (Колыма́) partly above the Arctic Circle includes many mines, to which the Polish Home Army soldiers were sentenced through the 1940s and 1950s for continuing to fight a guerilla war against the Soviet occupiers. Known as żołnierze wyklęci (the cursed soldiers), they were remnants of units that counted nearly 80,000 at the end of the war. The last of them, Józef Franczak, was killed in 1963. 

  • I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the individuals whose stories I transformed into poems. This book is meant to honor their sacrifice and document their resilience and survival. In addition to the members of my extended family, I’m especially grateful to Stefan Wiśniowski, and Sybiracy in California Zofia Cybulska-Adamowicz, Wiesław Adamowicz, Roma King, Zofia Janczur, doktor Bożena Gryglaszewska, Elżbieta Nowicka, Andrzej Dąbrowa, and Dorota Olszewski who encouraged them to share their painful recollections.

  • Sincere thanks is also due to the Finishing Line Press and its team of editors that published the original ten of these thirty poems in Slicing the Bread  in 2014.

  • Finally, I would not be able to finish these poems without the assistance of fellow poets and writers whose comments have been as valuable to me, as is their friendship: Elżbieta Kańska, John Guzłowski, as well as the Westside Women Writers: Millicent Borges Accardi, Lois P. Jones, Georgia Jones-Davis, Susan Rogers, Kathi Stafford, Madeleine Butcher, and Sonya Sabanac. Thank you. 
 ≡ ABOUT THE POET 

Photo by Susan Rogers, 2013

MAJA TROCHIMCZYK, Ph.D., is a poet, music historian, photographer, and non-profit director, born in Poland and living in California. She published six books on music and five volumes of poems: Rose Always - A Court Love Story, Miriam’s Iris, and Slicing the Bread: Children’s Survival Manual in 25 Poems, plus two anthologies, Chopin with Cherries and Meditations on Divine Names that offer “rich poetic material selected and collected with great sensitivity” (Grażyna Kozaczka, Polish Review, 58/4, 2014). Hundreds of her articles and poems appeared in English, Polish, as well as in German, French, Spanish Serbian, and Chinese translations, in such journals as Angel City Review, The Loch Raven Review, Epiphany Magazine, Lily Review, Ekphrasis Journal, Quill and Parchment, Magnapoets, SGVGPQ, The Cosmopolitan Review, The Scream Online, The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology, Lummox Journal, Poetry Magazine, Poezja Dzisiaj, OccuPoetry, as well as anthologies by Poets on Site, Southern California Haiku Study Group, the Altadena Library, and others. 

The Sixth Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga (2010-2012) and the founder of Moonrise Press, Trochimczyk presented her work at over 70 national and international conferences in Poland, France, Germany, Hungary, U.K., Canada, and the U.S. She received fellowships and awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, USC, McGill University, MPE Fraternity, the Polish American Historical Association, the City and County of Los Angeles, and Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. (www.trochimczyk.net). 






Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Announcing the Publication of "Into Light: Poems and Incantations" by Maja Trochimczyk


This pocket-book-size collection written by Maja Trochimczyk over the past twenty years includes 29 poems and 11 "incantations" that focus on the intertwined spiritual concepts of Light and Love. The poems, initially created within the Catholic mystical tradition of contemplation and adoration of the Divine presence, gradually evolved to encompass a broader scope of spiritual insights, without losing the main focus: reaching out in Love to the One Light, the Source of All. The simple and repetitive meditations and incantations are meant to inspire, uplift, and fill the heart with Light and Love.




At this time, the book is available in paperback and EPUB electronic book formats from lulu.com:

Paperback, pocket-book size, ISBN 978-0-9963981-8-3, 80 pages (xii + 68 pages),  price - $10.00: http://www.lulu.com/shop/maja-trochimczyk/into-light-poems-and-incantations/paperback/product-22804936.html 

EPUB ebook, ISBN 978-0-9963981-9-0,  price - $8.00: http://www.lulu.com/shop/maja-trochimczyk/into-light-poems-and-incantations/ebook/product-22804966.html .




Table of Contents

POEMS 1

A Passage ∻ 2
A Walk in the Canyon ∻ 3
No More ∻ 5
Timelessness ∻ 6
Awakenings ∻ 7
The Bluest ∻ 9
A Subliminal Song ∻ 10
The Gift of Patience ∻ 11
A Promise ∻ 13
The Feast ∻ 14
Of Bliss ∻ 15
Seeing Madonnas … ∻ 16
Rosa Mystica ∻ 17
The Cornerstone of the Soul ∻ 20
How to Cross the Great White ∻ 21
After the Crossing ∻ 23
The Vanishing Point ∻ 24
See How we Dance? ∻ 25
From the Mountains ∻ 27
Convergence ∻ 28
Gloria ∻30
A Perfect Universe ∻ 31
Cosmos ∻ 32
Elijah’s End ∻ 34
In a Magnolia Courtyard ∻ 36
On Squaring the Circle ∻ 37
Repeat After Me ∻ 39
A Rainbow Vision ∻ 41
Meditation on Light ∻ 43

INCANTATIONS 45

Morning Greetings ∻ 46
Our Mother ∻ 47
Breathing Affirmations ∻ 48
On Being a Tree ∻ 50
Being the Sun ∻ 51
Crown Jewels ∻ 52
The Seven Suns ∻ 53
The Divine Path ∻ 60
The Stream ∻ 62
The Shield of Light ∻ 64
The Shield of Love ∻ 65


Introduction

After writing and editing a variety of books on music, dance, and poetry, and publishing poetry in various journals, I decided it is time to do something completely altruistic, without any shadows within, with a clear direction upwards, to the light. I pulled together my “enlightened” poems from the past 20 years and created “incantations” – personal meditations and prayers, designed for quiet reading alone to uplift the soul in the morning, or provide a respite in a busy day.

My fascination with the twin themes of “light” and “love” dates back to my “conversion” period in Poland, when I read the Bible from cover to cover and started collecting all references to these mirrored themes that I could find. I thought of writing a mini-treatise on the topic of Divine Light to celebrate my baptism in 1987 at the age of 30. But somehow, I got too busy with other things and my treatise is now coming to life in an entirely different form.

On my spiritual path, marked by a late start and guided by many unusual visions and revelations (suitably so for a complete sceptic who would not believe in anything, unless personally experienced) I owe a debt of gratitude to many who have led me on the path of Light. First, my Godmother, Sister Elia of the Franciscan Sisters in Warsaw, taught me rigorous “rules of conduct” as a perfect daughter, mother, student, and mystic – especially the Ten Commandments and the Two Commandments of Love.  

Along the way, while making a discovery of a complete new continent of spiritual and religious writings, I read with great interest The Cloud of Unknowing, the writings and biographies of Blessed Hadewijch; Rumi; St. John of the Cross; Father Teilhard de Chardin; two twin souls, Discalced Carmelites Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity (to be Canonized in October 2016); and Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus from Lisieux, and many others, including poets Czeslaw Miłosz and Emily Dickinson. One of the most influential books was Guidelines for Mystical Prayer by English Carmelite, Ruth Burrows. 

In the 2010s in California, I found insight and love in the poetry and friendship of the “Spiritual Quartet” – four women who have taken birds as their totem images while pursuing their own paths into Light, sometimes parallel, sometimes inter-woven. Lois P. Jones (“the Phoenix”), Susan Rogers (“the Hummingbird”) and Ambika Talwar (“the Peacock”) have been faithful companions and guides on my own way into the Awakening. I’m “the Dove” of love, they decided, and so be it. 

The poems and incantations in this volume do not express any particular spirituality or religion, except my own mystical focus on the unknown Source of us all, the Light that draws us near, the Love that keeps us connected and dwells in our hearts. 

Baptized at 30 into the Catholic Church, after a long search for the right path, I’m an usher in my local parish. But I also seek enlightenment where it can be found, so I attend “light-giving” sessions at the Sukyo Mahikari Spiritual Development Centers (with Susan Rogers as my guide) and spiritual healing sessions given by inspired healers, filled with Divine light and grace, Kimberly Meredith and Ambika Talwar. 

Some of my “incantations” feature fragments of Catholic prayers, such as the Shield of St. Patrick, or words borrowed from Kimberly Meredith, or Messages by Archangel Michael channeled by Ronna that I found on YouTube. I also paraphrase ideas and inspirations from the Convoluted Universe books by hypnotherapist Dolores Cannon, The Law of One, the Spiritual Development Course by the Abbotts (Australia), and the Emerald Tablets of Thoth. If there are any others, whose ideas I may have adopted as mine without proper acknowledgement, Love and Light to you all!

There are so many parallels and synchronicities in the mystical traditions. While reading the Prayer to Fukushima Waters, for healing of the environmental damage, written by Dr. Masaru Emoto, you might recognize the sections of the Catholic Mass: “Water, we are sorry” (Mea Culpa), “Water, please forgive us” (Kyrie Eleison), “Water, we thank you” (Eucharist), “Water, we love you” (Communion).  At least, that’s what it seems to me, but I’m a Catholic, converted from scientific atheistic worldview. The “Divine indwelling” described by the Carmelites parallels the discovery of the Adamantine Particles of God, the Spark of Divine Light, or the loving connection to the Source deep within our hearts, contemplated in meditation.

Finding the way to becoming a Child of Light has been the greatest adventure of my life. I leave my reflections to my readers, with the hope that they, too, shall follow their own paths into the Light!


Maja Trochimczyk



On Squaring the Circle

It is a simple square that contains a circle –
four ideas, four words –

— sorry — forgive — thank — love —

No need for explanations,
long winding roads of words
Leading into the arid desert
of heartless intellect, auras
of geometric shapes floating above
your head – a scattered halo
of squares, sharp-edged cubes
prickly triangles, and hexahedrons.

No, not that. Instead let us find
the cornerstone of simplicity –

Sorry – to erase the past

Forgive – to open the path into the future

Thank – to suffuse the way, each moment 
with the velvet softness of gratitude

Love – to find a pearl unlike any other
a jewel of lustrous shine – incomparable, 
dazzling, smooth, pulsating sphere


A dot on the horizon grows
as you, step by step, come closer
until you enter into the shining
palace without rooms
where inside is outside,
the circumference is in the point,
the point in the circumference,

where movement is stillness
and stillness dances within –
traveling to a myriad of planets,
suns, galaxies, with the unheard of
velocity, being everywhere at once

Love everyone — Respect everything

So that’s how you square a circle





Thursday, June 9, 2016

Moonrise Press Books at Book Expo America in Chicago, May 2016

BookExpo America (BEA), the largest book show in the U.S., wa in Chicago this year, and Poland was the featured country! Aquila Polonica shared booth space with the official exhibit by the Polish Book Institute, booth 1504/1505. Since Poland was featured, Aquila Polonica conceived and organized a "Books in English" display as part of the official Polish Book Institute booth, curating a selection of more than 100 books in English about Poland—including works of fiction, history, cookery, music, and much more—by a variety of publishers and authors.

Moonrise Press and its founder Dr. Maja Trochimczyk greatly appreciated this opportunity to present their books in English on Polish and Polish American topics.  Below you will find pages from the catalog with links to where the books can be found.

Right on the first page of the book list, heading the section on Biography, Autobiography and Memoir, is the biography of Joseph and Ben Adamowicz, Polish pilots who crossed the Altantic in 1934, as the first Poles to do so (in Northern Atlantic, from New York to Warsaw). The study Across The Atlantic: The Adamowicz Brothers, Polish Aviation Pioneers, by Zofia Reklewska-Braun and Kazimierz Braun was published in 2015. It can be ordered here:
 ISBN 978-0-9963981-2-1, paperback, ISBN 978-0-9963981-3-8, e-Book (ePub format).   


The sixth page of the catalogue features the 2010 acclaimed poetry anthology edited by Maja Trochimczyk, Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse. The anthology includes 123 poems by 92 poets, including an English translation of the classic by Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Chopin's Piano, in a masterful rendition by Leonard Kress. The book can be found here:  Paperback Edition ($23.00) or PDF Download ($10.00). ISBN 978-0-9819693-0-5. 256 pages.Read more about this anthology. 
The next page in the section on Fiction, Literature and Poetry includes Slicing the Bread: Children's Survival Manual in 25 Poems by Maja Trochimczyk, published in 2014 by the Finishing Line Press.
or from Amazon.com.
A section on History on page 8 features East Central Europe in Exile, a two volume set edited by Anna Mazurkiewicz and issued by the Cambridge Publishers in 2013, with an article on Polish emigre composers in America by Maja Trochimczyk found in Volume 1, Transatlantic Migrations). 
The first title in the series on Music, is After Chopin: Essays on Polish Music, edited by Maja Trochimczyk, and published by the Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California, in 2001. The book consists of translations of essays by Polish composers about Chopin, and winning papers in the Wilk Research Prize in Polish Music. This book can be ordered from the Polish Music Center's website, it is not available on Amazon.
The next page 12 of the Catalogue includes two titles with major contributions by Maja Trochimczyk, and the third that she edited and prepared for publication without putting her name on it.  The most recent book,published in June 2015 is the second revised and expanded edition of Frederic Chopin: A Research and Information Guide, co-edited with William Smialek and issued by Routledge.  It can be ordered here.

The biography of Maria Szymanowska by Slawomir Dobrzanski, published by Polish Music Center in 2004, includes a chapter by Maja Trochimczyk on Szymanowska's songs. More information about this book is found on Polish Music Center's website. Finally, the biography of Poland's first 12-tone composer, Jozef Koffler by Maciej Golab was prepared under the supervision of Dr. Trochimczyk in 2003.  More information is on PMC Website.

Moonrise Press is proud of having two titles included in the display, along with four other titles written by Dr. Maja Trochimczyk or with important contributions that she penned. The catalog featured many other worthy books, thanks to the efforts of Aquila Polonica in publicizing books in English about Polish subjects.  










Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Maska Dramatic Circle by Phyllis Zych Budka Documents Polonian Culture



Moonrise Press announces a new publication in the series dedicated to Polish and Polish American culture: 
The Maska Dramatic Circle: Polish American Theater in Schenectady, New York (1933-1943) by Phyllis Zych Budka appeared in May 2016 in a large format (8 1/2 by 11 in), to accommodate its many facsimile of hitherto unknown historical documents. Instead of a E-Pub format, the e-book is issued as a PDF, due to the large number of scans and examples. 

Designed initially as a family history and based on documents found in an attic, the book was inspired by the involvement of the author's parents Stanley Zych and Sophie Korycinski Zych in the Maska Dramatic Circle in the 1930s and 1940s. While researching this project, Ms. Budka realized that:

 "no one has told the story of the Maska Dramatic Circle, this unique group of young people, mostly first generation Polish Americans, who contributed so much to the cultural life of their community in Schenectady, New York, between 1933 and 1942.  The Maska members were multitalented, hardworking and full of fun.  Their world was completely bilingual, with plays in Polish, a newsletter in both English and Polish, and newspaper articles in both the local English newspapers as well as the Polish ones."  

 In nine years they staged at least 51 plays, complete with costumes, stage settings, music and dancing. The book documents these performances on the basis of a scrapbook of photos, Maska Buletyns and press clippings and thus fills in an enormous gap in the history of  one of the Polish immigrant communities in America.

Ms. Budka explains further: "While I’ve approached the Maska book as a family memoir and a local history, I am coming to realize that it is very relevant to current concerns in the wider community about the disappearance of the Polish American immigrant experience.  I am also very proud of the writing and pictures in our “Project To Discover Schenectady County’s Eastern European Roots” newsletter.  Pascucci’s PhD thesis on the Italian and Polish immigrants in Schenectady in 1880 – 1920 (1989), is the only project that comes close to an in-depth analysis of the local population, filled with statistical data, but lacking the personal touch". 
  

ABOUT THIS BOOK

If we are to have a more complete and nuanced history of Polonia we need more local based sources like the one published by Phyllis Zych Budka. Her focus is the Polish American community in Schenectady, N.Y., a midsized industrial city where she grew up and which does not receive much attention from Polonian historians.  Based primarily on her parents’ scrap book and Polish and English newspapers, it records the amazing theatrical and cultural achievements of the “Maska Dramatic Club of Schenectady,” which from 1933 to 1942 produced more than 50 plays in Polish and, in the process, enriched the lives of Polish immigrants and their children.

~ Dr. Thaddeus V. Gromada, Professor Emeritus of East European History and Past President of PIASA and Polish American Historical Association (PAHA)

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Phyllis Zych Budka has provided an account of the young, third-generation Polish-Americans of Schenectady, N.Y. who organized a drama group (Maska) that offered both Polish and Polish-American themed plays in the Polish language. Maska began offering plays to the community in the early 1930s and had a successful run for a decade. At a time when they were fast assimilating into the larger American society, these young people sought to preserve Polish culture and to demonstrate its relevance to the contemporary lives of both the immigrant generation and to their children.

~ Robert R. Pascucci, Ph.D., author of Electric City Immigrants: Italians and Poles of Schenectady, N.Y., 1880-1930

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I will be forever grateful to Phyllis for telling the story of my dad's life before I was born. As a kid, I knew my dad was well-read with a great vocabulary. He read books to me, stepping into character roles, inflecting his voice or changing his accent to portray Tom Sawyer, Ivanhoe, or other characters in the stories. I never knew how he learned these skills, he was just my dad. I also remember him telling about hard times during the Great Depression riding the rails in search of work. I wondered about the story behind the photographs of actors on stage of which he was a part. Now, thanks to Phyllis, I know more about his quote about "the happy days" of his participation in the troupe, the fun he had and the awards he won.

~ Joseph Drapala



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phyllis Rita Zych Budka was born in Schenectady, New York, and lives in nearby Niskayuna. All her grandparents came to Schenectady in the early 20th century.  She attended St. Adalbert’s Parochial School, McKinley Junior High and Mont Pleasant High School.  After graduating from the University of Rochester with a Bachelor of Arts in Russian Language, she married Alfred J. Budka.  They are the parents of Kenneth, Thomas and Christine and grandparents of seven.  With Al’s encouragement, Phyllis returned to school and received a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Union College.  During her years at Union, she developed an interest in nickel iron and stony iron meteorites, and has published many articles on the results of her research.

Phyllis worked as a metallurgical engineer, retiring in 2007.  As retirement neared, her interest in genealogy and local family history grew.  Many trips to Poland and Lithuania have helped to discover ancestral history and build connections and friendships with living cousins, which continue with the help of the internet.