Monthly Archives: May 2011

Polish poems on the Tube


Czeslaw Milosz - Poems on the Underground
Blacksmith Shop by Czeslaw Milosz - click to view large

Those of you who live in London are probably familiar with Poems on the Underground, a Transport for London initiative to display short poems in Tube carriages. From tomorrow, you will also be able to read Polish poetry on London Underground as TfL is celebrating centenary of Czeslaw Milosz – a well-known Polish poet, writer and Nobel Prize winner.

The latest Poems on the Underground collection features Blacksmith Shop by Czeslaw Milosz himself, but also Nothing Special by Zbigniew Herbert and Star by Adam Zagajewski.

Milosz, who emigrated from Poland and subsequently became an American citizen and a lecturer at University of California, Berkeley, translated Herbert’s and Zagajewski’s poems into English. Zagajewski, who also left Poland for Paris, is best known for his post-9/11 poem, Try to Praise the Mutilated World.

Adam Zagajewski - poems on the Underground
Star by Adam Zagajewski - click to view large

Zbigniew Herbert was also one of the most recognisable and most cherished Polish poets. During WWII he became a member of the Polish resistance and in the 1980s he was a poet of the Polish opposition.

Judith Chernaik, the founder of Poems on the Underground, said:

“We hope that Londoners and visitors alike will enjoy this latest collection of poems which celebrate one of the greatest Polish poets of our time.”

The Poems on the Underground programme has been so successful other big cities – including Warsaw – have launched similar initiatives on their respective underground/metro systems.


Zbigniew Herbert - poems on the Underground
Nothing Special by Zbigniew Herbert - click to view large

But if you can’t spot any of the Polish poems on the Tube – or don’t travel on the Underground that often – you will be able to pick up a leaflet with the featured poems from five Tube stations: Embankment, Covent Garden, South Kensington, Russell Square and Moorgate. They will be available from June 10th.

UPDATE: Thanks to Transport for London I can now share with you the three Polish poems chosen to be displayed on the Tube. Click on the above images to read the poems. Those of you who want to learn more about the Tube can do so from the excellent Going Undergound’s blog by Annie Mole (who first let me know about TfL’s plans to display Polish poetry).

Over 500 thousand Polish passport holders live in the UK

Image Copyright joellybaby via Flickr

Today’s papers quote the Office for National Statistics which claims that

“Between the year ending December 2003 and the year ending September 2010 the Polish-born population of the UK increased from 75,000 to 521,000″

It also claims that in recent times immigration of Polish people has declined:

Immigration was highest in 2007 at 96,000 Polish citizens, but this declined to 39,000 in 2009. Emigration has also decreased from 54,000 to 29,000 over the same time period.

But what’s really interesting are the employment figures:

In the first quarter of 2011 an estimated 82.1 per cent of Poles aged 16 to 64 were in employment, compared with a rate of 70.7 per cent for the UK as a whole.

Which to me suggests most people still come to work, and not to claim benefits as some would make you believe. I won’t go into detail how various papers decided to interpret the data – those of you who live in the UK can probably guess. Some of them claim that many Poles decide to return to the UK after failing to find jobs back in Poland.

Have you noticed a new influx of Polish migrants? Are the above figures credible – and more importantly, do they bother you?

Image Copyright joellybaby via Flickr

I need your vote. Yes, yours!

Oh, I do like getting good news. Who doesn’t?

For the second year in a row, this blog has been nominated in the Language Lovers contest and I need your support! One of the reasons why this blog was set up was to teach people all over the world some useful Polish phrases and some basic vocabulary. My approach is always the same: I try to keep it simple and focus on useful or seasonal phrases. There is usually some context and not too much complicated grammar notes. Not everybody is – or wants to be – a linguist and I believe an audio file with a brief explanation can be much more useful than a long-winded explanation.

And while this blog focuses on modern Poland in general – from its cuisine to its culture – my mini language lessons (all grouped under the oh-so-clever “Polish your Polish” category) prove to some be the biggest traffic drivers for this blog. The most popular of all lessons I’ve published so far is definitely the one which explains how to say “happy birthday” in Polish.

The guys behind Language Lovers 2011 appreciated my efforts and my blog was nominated in the Language Professional Blog category, which is fantastic. If you have enjoyed my lessons – or if you think they might work for other people interested in Polish – please do me a favour and do the following:

1 – click on this link and on the Language Lovers 2011 page scroll down to find The Polski Blog – and vote for me;

2 – tell your friends about the blog and ask them to vote if they like;

3 – come back for more :)

As without you, this blog would not exist. Thank you!


You like kiełbasa, we like kiełbasa

Move over, spaghetti bolognese, pierogi is about to kick your ass. Well, maybe. Europe is falling more and more in love with Polish food, according to a quality Polish daily, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

Last year Poland exported 13.3 bn euro worth of food. That’s a lot of kabanos. But Europe – and Germany in particular – wants more. In the first quarter of this year the number of food items with a “Made in Poland” sticker sold to other European countries rose by about 6.5% compared to the same period last year.

Polish food might be yummy, but it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted. Not sure what it says about the changing eating habits of our European neighbours ;)

But Poland itself loves its meats too. Oh, very much so. Euromonitor International has just published a 900-page report called “Who Eats What”. Poles are in the top 20 most carnivorous nations in the world. An average of 74kg of meat is sold per head yearly in Poland, which makes Poland the 12th most meat-friendly (if that’s the right expression) country in the world.

Although we still have a long way to go before we catch up with Argentina, where, according to the same report, almost 116 kg of meat is sold per person every year. *burp*

And what’s your favourite Polish food?

Vote the Top 100 Language Professionals Blogs 2011