Wednesday, August 31, 2011

September 11 at 2 p.m. - "Tour de Polonia" Project of the Polish Museum of Emigration

In 2011, the Modjeska Club celebrates its 40th anniversary. The fall season is filled with events, starting from September 11, 2011.

Our first meeting is dedicated to a project of a new Polish Museum of Emigration in Gdynia, Tour de Polonia – The World Through Polish Eyes. The Museum will be represented by the project’s authors, Edi & Asia Pyrek – explorers and artists, as well as collaborators of the National Geografic. The meeting will take place in the welcoming home of Kinga Rymsza-Sarabia and Sonny Sarabia in Orange County, starting at 2 p.m., on Sunday, 11 September 2011. The program will include a presentation about the newly created Polish Museum of Emigration in Gdynia as well as conversations with members of our club, accompanied by a donation drive for the Museum’s holdings. Please do not forget to bring your gifts and memorabilia you would like to share with the Museum, as well as beverages and refreshments for our buffet. This event is free to all guests. There will be free parking on nearby streets.

Tour de Polonia – The World Through Polish Eyes is a project of the new Polish Museum of Emigration which will open in Gdynia at the turn of 2011/2012. The patronage over this project is extended by the National Geographic, Polska Telewizja (TVP) and TV Polonia. The idea of „Tour de Polonia” is to show Poles through the prism of the country in which they have decided to live.

Edi Pyrek is an explorer, writer (author of 7 travel books) and staff collaborator of the National Geographic. As a journalist, he authored travel series for TVP, Świat Podróży wg Ediego and Ziema Nieznana and for the Discovery Channel, Święte Miejsca. He also created documenteries for TVP. As a political advisor he worked on election campaigns and image management. He has lectured at colleges about location marketing and worked as a consultant on location branding. For the "Tour de Polonia" project he will gather materials for books/articles and conduct interviews with emigrants.

Asia Pyrek
is an explorer, photographer, and a collaborator of National Geographic. She won the first prize in the original Polish photo competition of the National Geographic. She also co-authored three travel books, including a Travel Encyclopedia. As a cinematographer, she worked for the Discovery Channel; she also worked as an editor, film composer, and a singer. As a collaborator of the Polish Museum of Emigration, she will create the audiovisual documentation for the project.


In celebration of the theme of emigration, I thought it worthwhile to reprint here my poem "An Ode of the Lost" that was published in 2010 in an online Polonian journal, The Cosmopolitan Review. At that time the poem was accompanied by my multi-layered photo - a collage of a photo of Polish fields taken from a train, placed in the chaparral, by Mojave Yucca and desert rocks of California.

An Ode of the Lost

to Adam Mickiewicz and all Polish exiles

Tired exiles in rainy Paris listen to Mickiewicz
reciting praises of woodsy hills, green meadows—
distant Lithuania, their home painted in Polish verse,
each word thickly spread with meaning,
like a slice of rye bread with buckwheat honey.

“Litwo! Ojczyzno moja! ty jesteś jak zdrowie.
Ile cię trzeba cenić, ten tylko się dowie,
Kto cię stracił”
—he says, and we, homeless Poles
without ground under our feet, concur,
sharing the blame for our departure.
There’s no return.

Are not all journeys one way? Forward,
forward, go on, “call that going, call that on.”
The speed of light, merciless angel with a flaming sword,
moves the arrow forward. Seconds, minutes
stretch into years. Onwards. Go.
The time-space cone limits the realm of possibility.
If you stay, you can go on. If you leave—

Can you find blessing in the blur of a moment?
In a glimpse of soft, grassy slopes shining
like burnished gold before the sun turns purple?
Can you learn to love the sweet-fluted songs
of the mockingbird, forget the nightingale?

How far is too far for the lost country
to become but a dream of ancient kings—
where children never cry, wildflowers bloom,
and autumn flutter of brown, drying leaves
whispers of the comforts of winter?
Sleep, sleep, eternal sleep,
in the spring you will awaken…

(c) 2009 by Maja Trochimczyk

Note: Quotation from Adam Mickiewicz’s Invocation to Pan Tadeusz, or the Last Foray in Lithuania (“My country! You are as good health: /How much one should prize you, he only can tell who has /lost you”), and from Samuel Beckett’s The Unnameable.



In 2011 we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Club and we plan the following events:
  • 15 October – Polish Film Festival (the Modjeska Prize)

  • 24 October - Adam Michnik
  • 19 November – Concert of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki;
  • TBA December – Christmas party with the Polish University Club of Los Angeles,
  • 31 December – New Year’s Eve Anniversary Ball.

    For the spring of 2012 we have planned a special treat: Pastorałki by Bogdan Kuszta directed by Maria Pilatowicz. In January 2012, the 40-years of the history of the club will be presented during the Annual Meeting of the Polish American Historical Association in Chicago (by Maja Trochimczyk)


    Photos of California landscapes (Big Tujunga Wash with Barbara Koziel Gawronski's Collage; High Sierra Mountain meadows imitating forests of Lithuania and Poland) (c) 2009-2011 by Maja Trochimczyk.

  • Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Helena Modjeska and Modjeska Club Events

    It is the middle of the summer and it is time to look back at our activities in the 2010-2011 season. We had a very busy and exciting year, with 15 events, ranging from concerts, to lectures, to film screenings, to poetry readings, and meetings with politicians and scientists. The documentation of our events is on the Modjeska Club Website, with links to event programs, announcements, photo albums and reviews.

    After working on the publicity for our events and operations, I realized that the largest gap in our public presence is that of Helena Modjeska herself - our website did not include any information about her. I decided to not write a new entry, but rather use existing material. Therefore, I requested a right to reprint the entry on Modjeska from The Polish American Encyclopedia, edited by James Pula for McFarland Publishing and published in 2011. The entry was written by Krystyna Cap and provides a basic introduction to the life and legacy of Modjeska, including a limited list of references. I added some illustrations, and voila - here's our patron, Helena Modjeska. I am often asked if I am Helena, so I'm happy to be able to put that rumor to rest. No, I was not born in 1840!

    However, I did visit Modjeska's Historic Home with actress Ewa Boryczko who wrote a wonderful play about Modjeska and performs the solo work herself. With Kris Cieply, the founder of Helena Modjeska Society of Orange County and the future Modjeska Museum we were interviewed about Helena Modjeska's presence in California for a Polish TV Polonia broadcast "Polska24", now available on YouTube. Lukasz Sochur previously recorded the Modjeska Prize Ceremony and a brief interview with Jan Nowicki.



    A full list of events in 2011 is, at this time, only available in Polish as a PDF download on our website: Spis Spotkan PDF.

  • July 21, 2011 - Memorial Service for Tadeusz Bocianski (1935-2011), Our Lady of the Bright Mount Church, Los Angeles.

  • June 19, 2011 - Poles to the South Pole, A travelogue by Bogdan Plewnia and Andrzej Jagoda (Antarctic) and Witold Fraczek (Chile), South Pasadena Public Library.

  • April 16, 2011 - "Milosz in My Life" with poets Dr. John Z. Guzlowski and Cecilia Woloch (USC), and special guest Marek Probosz reciting Milosz's poetry in Polish. A celebration of the Milosz Year. Ruskin Art Club, Los Angeles.

  • March 26, 2011 - "Cosmos - the Real Poetry” presented by JPL/NASA scientists - Artur Chmielewski, Andrew Dowen, David Lehman, Witold Sokolowski and Marek Tuszynski, JPL Van Karman Auditorium, Pasadena.

  • March 12, 2011 - Meeting with Jan Kidawa-Blonski, including a conversation with Andrzej Maleski and fragments from The Little Rose film, Beverly Hills.

  • February 19, 2011 - "Mickiewicz Today" with Professors Roman Koropeckyj (UCLA) and Leonard Kress (Owens College), featuring a special guest appearance by eminent actress Beata Pozniak Daniels accompanied by pianist Sue Zhou, Ruskin Art Club, Los Angeles.

  • January 22, 2011 - "Travel to Tibet" with Edward and Maria Pilatowicz, screening of film and conversations with long-time club members and past-presidents. Home of Monique and David Lehman, Pasadena.

  • December 31, 2010 - New Year's Eve Ball at the Long Beach Petroleum Club, based on a theme "In a Winter Wonderland..."

  • December 11, 2010 - Christmas Concert, Caroling and Reception with guitarist Arek Niezgoda, violist and jazz singer Karolina Naziemiec, and Bulgarian cellist Irina Chirkova. Residence of Jolanta and Alex Wilk, Anaheim Hills.

  • November 21, 2010 - “To Save from Oblivion: The Cabaret of Jeremi Przybora and Jerzy Wasowski” illustrated with songs from the Old Gents’ Cabaret (Kabaret Starszych Panów), performed by members of Club PIE, Poles in Inland Empire. Long Beach Petroleum Club.

  • October 17, 2010 - First Annual Modjeska Prize for Jan Nowicki. Meeting with Jan Nowicki and Malgorzata Potocka, in conversation with Maja Trochimczyk. Residence of
    Helena and Stanley Kolodziey, Beverly Hills.

  • October 16, 2010 - Conversation with Leszek Balcerowicz and Consul General Joanna Kozinska-Frybes, Residence of Helena and Stanley Kolodziey, Beverly Hills.

  • October 10, 2010 - "Concert of Romantic Music" by Marta Wryk, soprano and Adam Kosmieja, piano, Celebrating the Chopin Year, South Pasadena Public Library.

  • September 11, 2010 - "Kapuscinski and Domoslawski" - screening of a documentary by Gabrielle Pfeiffer and interview with Artur Domoslawski by Dorota Czajka-Olszewska, Ruskin Art Club, Los Angeles.

  • August 13, 2010 - Premiere of a documentary "Labyrinth" about Auschwitz survivor and artist, Marian Kolodziej, Arclight Hollywood.

  • August 6, 2010 - Premiere of "A Fantasy on Polish Airs" - ballet to Chopin music by Stefan Wenta, by the Luminario Ballet of Los Angeles, Ford Amphitheater.



    The Polish-American Encyclopedia is a monumental, multi-author effort, the largest recent project of the Polish-American Historical Association. This encyclopedic reference work has three types of entries: thematic essays, topical entries, and biographical entries. The essays synthesize existing work to provide interpretations of, and insight into, important aspects of the Polish American experience. The topical entries identify specific places, events or organizations. The biographical entries identify Polish Americans who have made significant contributions at the regional or national level either to the history and culture of the United States, or to the development of American Polonia. There are over 1,000 entries prepared by more than 120 authors who have contributed to the project. The final manuscript is over 630,000 words, which equates to 1,000 typed pages, single-spaced.

    More information about the Encyclopedia on McFarland Website. The encyclopedia was sponsored by the Polish American Historical Association that also published several news items about the Modjeska Club's activities in its semi-annual newsletters (Fall 2010 on Nowicki and Labyrinth and Spring 2011 on Milosz and Mickiewicz). My paper on the 40 years of history of the Modjeska Club was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America and will be repeated at the meeting of the Polish American Historical Association in January 2012.



    Fragment of Helena Modjeska's portrait by Tadeusz Ajdukiewicz, 1880.

    Ewa Boryczko and Maja Trochimczyk in Modjeska's garden at Arden, Silverado Canyon, Orange County. Photo by Lukasz Soczur, 2011.