Has your perception of Poland changed?

Warsaw by Adam Smok via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons licence
Warsaw by Adam Smok via Flickr, used under the Creative Commons licence

Poland has been a member of the European Union for over ten years now. A lot has changed during the past ten years.

Many more Poles than ever before live and work in the UK and other EU countries. Lots of foreigners from the same EU countries have moved to, and live in Poland too.

Poland’s Donald Tusk is now the president of the European Council, Poland has tragically lost its president and a number of high-profile politicians in the tragic plane crash in 2010.

It’s also successfully co-hosted the European Football Championships in 2012 and has become more prominent on the international scene.

There have been many more good and bad headlines featuring Poland and its citizens in the British – and international – press, the country itself has transformed enormously and it’s attracted a lot of new tourists, investors and, hopefully, fans.

But are you one of them? Has your perception of the country changed over the past decade? I’d be curious to find out, regardless of whether you live in or outside of Poland.

Here’s a very short poll, but if you feel you want to elaborate on this question, please leave a comment below.

Has your perception of Poland changed over the past 10 years?

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The feeling of Poland

What does Poland feel like? This lovely video by Maggie Olkuska should give you a flavour of Poland.

Watched over 130,000 times, this video was shot by Maggie in 2012, when she decided to visit Poland with her camera. She backpacked all across the country to capture the essence of the place and its people.

She wrote:

Poland is a country with a very brutal past, really.. the World Wars, Holocaust… but I believe that all these experiences only made the nation stronger! As I experienced through my journey – Polish people are so hardworking, very hospitable, very ambitious; there are so many passionate artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers there… ! Moreover, when a Pole decides that he’s going to achieve something, a goal, a dream – I bet you – he will!!! (*and he is going to be passionate about it!*)

Need I say more?

 

The feeling of POLAND from Maggie Olkuska on Vimeo.

Warsaw street fashion

“Warsaw is more hipster than Paris, which is elegant.” Now, I’m not sure this is a good thing, but this is what I learned from this New York Times video about what people in Poland wear these days.

The video’s title is self-explanatory: “Intersection: Divided Styles in Warsaw”.  Like everywhere in Poland, Warsaw has its share of fashionistas and a lot of people, for whom fashion is still decided by the price tag. And Plac Zbawiciela, which features in this clip – a more upmarket and liberal part of central Warsaw – is no different.

Even in this video the clash is pretty evident.

And hopefully the clip will also dispel certain myths about how people dress in Poland and if you’ve never been there – no, we don’t wear bear skin coats. *eye roll*

Celebrate Thanksgiving with Polish pierogi

Traditional Polish pierogi
Traditional Polish pierogi

As weird as it sounds, this is exactly what the US diplomats in Warsaw decided to do. And they filmed their effort.

They asked a seasoned pierogi-maker,  Ms Teresa Bart from Zambrow in Poland to teach them how to prepare traditional Polish mushroom, cabbage and onion pierogi. So she did.

There’s just one but. She doesn’t speak English. And their Polish is limited. Or non-existent in some cases.

Here’s the (hilarious) outcome.

JEMP Festival returns to London for 2013

Normally when I post something on a Sunday, it’s a music clip.  And normally it’s my post.

Today will be another music post, but with a difference. This one wasn’t written by me. For the first time in the history of this blog, I’m posting a guest post. Hooray! The text below was written by the Polski Blog’s fan and reader, Matt Lindley, who has something special for all you (Polish) jazz lovers. Matt, over to you….

Mikrokolektyw
Mikrokolektyw

Coming to London later this month will be a programme of Polish experimental and jazz music as JEMP Festival hits town. Running from 25th November to 5th December, Jazz and Experimental Music from Poland is a six-day series of concerts at various venues around the city, including Café Oto and Vortex Jazz Club in East London. From Free Jazz to Electroacoustic Improv to Noise, we take a look at three of the JEMP highlights.

Mikołaj Trzaska / Mark Sanders Duo and Mikrokolektyw

25th November 2013 at Vortex Jazz Club, Dalston

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Formed out of the ashes of Robotobibok, Mikrokolektyw are a stripped-down duo comprising Kuba Suchar (drums) and Artur Majewski (trumpet). Both members also contribute analogue synth to the mix. Influences from Chicago’s jazz and post rock scene of the 90s are certainly evident, but Mikrokolektyw’s forward-thinking drift is entirely their own. They will be performing music from their new album Absent Minded, out now on Delmark.

Later in the evening, legendary saxophonist Mikołaj Trzaska and drummer Mark Sanders will take to the stage for a special one-off collaboration. Trzaska is best known as a founding member of Polish jazz group Miłość (see below) and has gone on to collaborate with Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark and others. London-based Sanders is equally well-travelled and known for his diverse and constantly creative drumming.

Piotr Kurek & Andie Brown and Piętnastka

27th November 2013 at OTO Project Space, Dalston

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Piętnastka’s (AKA Piotr Kurek’s) massively psychedelic Dalia tape was one of the music highlights of 2011. Kurek’s music weaves synth and organ tones to create fairytale soundworlds inhabited by the ghosts of Eastern European folk music. Hearing him perform live with percussionist Hubert Zemler will be one of the high points of the festival.   

Later in the evening, Kurek will be joined by London musician Andie Brown for another JEMP exclusive. Brown has collaborated with Cindytalk and operates under the solo moniker These Feathers Have Plumes. It will be interesting to hear how her atmospheric ambient drone textures merge with Kurek’s keyboard reveries.

Miłość (Love) Film Screening

30th November 2013 at the Rio Cinema, Dalston

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Coming to Dalston’s Rio Cinema will be a special one-off screening of Filip Dzierżawski’s documentary about Polish jazz group Miłość. Founded in 1988 by Tymon Tymański, Miłość were the first Polish band to integrate elements of punk rock, folk and techno into their sound, creating a new style of music known as ‘jass’.

Dzierżawski’s film tells the dramatic story of Miłość ten years after the band broke up, as they prepare for a reunion tour. Will the magic still be there? Expect new interviews, archive material and concert footage as the band discuss their early days and the legacy of their jass sound. The film will be accompanied by a Q&A session.

The third edition of JEMP looks set to be the best yet, so we hope you can make it down to some shows!

Additional information: For a full program of events visit the official website (www.jempfestival.com). For London accommodation check out HotelClub (www.hotelclub.com/United-Kingdom/London-hotels).

Guest post by Matt Lindley