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The living and the dead – New Eastern Europe

A conversation with Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, a Polish poet, and Trupa Trupa, songwriter, vocalist and guitarist. Interviewer: Jacek Hajduk.

JACEK HAJDUK: During the 2019 SXSW Music Festival you dedicated the performance of your group, Trupa Trupa, to the memory of the late Gdańsk mayor, Paweł Adamowicz. Let us then start with Gdańsk. How much of this city is with you today? And how was it before? Which faces of this multi-layered urban centre are close to your heart?

Crops

On November 1st book “Crops” translated by professor Peter Constantine will be published by Rain Taxi. The book is accompanied by blurbs by Imani Perry, Sam Lipstyle, Cynthia Zarin and Richard Deming.

Never Forget What Hate Can / Ruth Ben-Ghiat

I am pleased to bring you this interview with Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, a member of the Polish psychedelic post-punk band Trupa Trupa, and the author of several books of poetry that address history, remembrance, and ethics. His latest poems will appear in the review Rain Taxi in November. Kwiatkowski’s musical and literary works have been published and reviewed in The Guardian, Modern Poetry in Translation, Rolling Stone, and the BBC and other places. Trupa Trupa’s songs have denounced Holocaust denialism, as in the tracks Remainder and Never Forget. The band has performed at Desert Daze Festival, South By Southwest, Iceland Airwaves, and Haldern Pop Festival. In 2020 they took part in an NPR Tiny Desk session. Their latest EP is I’ll Find. Our conversation was held on March 23, 2021, and has been edited for clarity and flow.

Vol. 1 Brooklyn

Witness Trupa Trupa’s postpunk triptych in the video for “Fitzcarraldo”.

The music made by Gdańsk’s Trupa Trupa covers a wide range, both musically and emotionally. “Fitzcarraldo,” from their 2020 EP I’ll Find, is more on the blissed-out side of things, juxtaposing nimble guitar melodies with an airy musical backdrop. The brand-new video (also available below) finds the band crossing the United States, and includes some footage shot at their show at Union Pool.

Modern Poetry In Translation / The Best Of World Poetry

“The Polish poet Grzegorz Kwiatkowski admits to his poetic affinity with Edgar Lee Masters. Although he borrows his approaches from Spoon River Anthology, Kwiatkowski emphasizes the differences too: ‘I’m very interested in history. My grandfather was a prisoner in Stutthof, the Nazi concentration camp east of what used to be the Free City of Danzig. Later he was forced to become a Wehrmacht soldier.’ Kwiatkowski’s poems explore not only conflicted pasts of Central and South-Eastern Europe (for example, the Nazi T4 Euthanasia Program), but also the paradoxes of contemporary genocides, for instance in Rwanda. As the poet explains, ‘I’m intrigued by the combination of ethics and aesthetics in one person, one life, one story.’ His minimalist poems have been perceived as quasi-testimonies, ‘full of passion, terror and disgust’, provocative and lyrical utterances delivered by the killed and the dead. Ultimately, they become portrayals of Death.”