- June 28, 2013
Newspaper in my life – Aleksander Śnieżko
Aleksander Śnieżko. His poems are imbued with respect for his homeland, his “little fatherland.” They are moving and thoughtful. Their lyricism also makes one want to sing them. Yet, more importantly, Śnieżko is the author of the hymn of Kurier Wileński (the Courier of Vilnius), which was written in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the paper’s activity and which is published on page 21 of the latest issue, celebrating the 60th anniversary.
Second after the primer. In 1953, when the first post-war Polish periodical was launched on the territory of the former Soviet Union, I was a first-grade student of the seven-grade BuivydžiųSchool. I had just mastered the alphabet and learnt how to build words and whole sentences when my childlike sensitivity became enchanted by the beauty of my mother tongue. It was then that I ran into one of the first issues of Czerwony Sztandar (the Red Banner).
The content of the articles I found therein was still dictated by Moscow. However, thanks to the patriotism and high qualifications of the then editorial staff, between the lines devoted to politics, our hearts, so much sensitive to Polishness, were able to find thoughts and hopes for real freedom. They also preserved the scintilla of Polishness ingrained in my soul from the upbringing in my house and home. For that I have been grateful to this day!
Manege of Pegasus. In the newspaper’s editor’s office at 14 Mostowa Street, Władysław Abramowicz, a Polish-Lithuanian poet, founded a literary interest group. I was lucky to land in there in 1959, when my first poems had been already published in the column called “Młode Zastępy.”
Most of novice poets keep their writing in the sock drawer. In my family home, there was a lot of warmth and love, but the furniture was very modest. I can remember only one drawer, in the kitchen table, where we used to keep the cutlery, tableware, bread, and pork fat. (Un)fortunately, there was not enough place for my early poems. What then was I supposed to do with my writing? I put the manuscripts in an envelope, wrote down an editing office’s address, and later threw it into a letter box. Then, sometimes, some editors published my poems in the papers. The fact that my work landed in our dear readers filled me with satisfaction and inspiration to write more poetry. Who knows whether and in what condition the Polishness in Lithuania would be today and how many poets would be now writing in Polish but for the literary interest group of Czerwony Sztandar.
Borders. Scholars and astronauts all over the world are exploring the universe. They are searching it for any traces of life. However, they have not found them yet for there is no life where there is no water. My “universe” was a bit smaller. I studied and worked in Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine. I could somehow live in all of the countries because my omnipresent homesickness for the native Vilnius Region was soothed, at least to some extent, by the Polish press and especially by Czerwony Sztandar.
After I graduated I was sent to work as a young specialist in a small town of Gurew in Kazakhstan. There I experienced both Siberian frost and African heat. I could have endured both of them if I had been able to buy Polish newspapers, listen to the Polish radio, or watch the Polish television. Without them the life there was impossible for me same as life is not possible on a planet where there is no water. I renounced the prospects of a professional career and a coupon for a flat and furniture, then packed my suitcase, and, literally, ran away from the Siberian “exile” to my dear Vilnius Region, to which I am and will be faithful as long as I have my dearest friend, Kurier Wileński, regularly delivered to my letter box.
Tłumaczenie by Elwira Łykus w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Elwira Łykus within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.