Getting to know NECE participants - Ewa Zadrzynska from "Poetry Unites"

Ewa Zadrzynska from "Poetry Unites"

“Maybe this is not a typical project,” says Ewa Zadrzynska and smiles. She is working for the Evens Foundation’s office in Warsaw and comes to the NECE conference with “Poetry Unites – My Favorite Poem”. In this project poetry enthusiasts present their favourite lines before the camera and get their five minutes of fame: the short presentations are shown on Polish public television, at festivals and on other occasions raising attention. Also they are organising a nationwide contest for the best essay on a favourite issue in schools.

It’s shy people the project is reaching out for. “They are different, they are a minority.” says Ms. Zadrzynska. “Not necessarily or only in an economic sense. They live among words and nice sentences.”  Education in Poland lacks to train speaking in public as a basic competence in civic education, she says. “We try to break the invisible barrier that keeps us away from articulating ourselves. When somebody presents a poem he or she starts to talk about their personal daily life.” Ms. Zadrzynska understands poetry as a tool for mutual understanding.

"Poetry Unites" started in Warsaw in 2006 and involves people from ages 6 to 94. The poem community is much more diverse than might be suspected: a housekeeper talking about his favourite lines, a 9 year old Roma girl who just learned Polish at school and by the way won the school competition, a 16 year old girl from a little village near Kwidzyn, who lives in one room with her two brothers while their parents sleep in the kitchen. Like many winners she has never been to Warsaw before she went there to receive the prize. What do they all have in common according to Ms. Zadrzynska? "They are precious and by mass media they are not considered as being important."

At the NECE conference Ms. Zadrzynska is particularly interested in Polish-German projects. In 2012 “Poetry Unites” will take place in cooperation with the Literaturwerkstatt in Berlin. There are contacts in France and Belgium, plans for Bulgaria, Austria and other countries are in planning.  "We are hoping that it will become a European project", she says.


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