New Britain City Journal

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Creative Expressions Shared in Polish Poetry Group

When the group gathers, it’s like the rest of the world around them is put on hold – at least while they’re sharing their poetry – that formation and creation of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities, something that goes beyond its apparent meaning. One can become transformed into another realm of being, a place of peace and understanding of a deeper kind.

This poetic organization calls itself “Obloki”- a Polish word meaning fluffy clouds that float across a clear blue sky, sometimes momentarily blocking the sun, then sailing onward again, allowing the sun to burst forth. It’s a lovely vision, a peaceful image. Similarly, Obloki’s poetry leaves one feeling likewise.

Meeting monthly during fall and spring, Obloki is affiliated with the Polish American Foundation of CT (PAF) located at the Sloper Wesoly House in New Britain. Striving to continue their Polish cultural heritage, poetry readings are held in Polish. The group was founded in October 2008 by Jerry Malinka, a masterfully emotional and sensual poet who is also an artist and musician. The group currently has about 12 active members.

Malinka came up with the idea of Obloki as do most people that have a creative passion – he wanted to find an outlet to express his writings with. Although writing is rather solitary, one still wishes to connect with others who pursue the same. He visited the Polish web portal “Nasza Klasa” (Our Class) – a Polish social networking service that brings together students and alumni. “Nasza Klasa” launched in November 2006, presently has about 13.5 million registered users. The portal is similar to Facebook and the American site, Classmates. Malinka attended an annual PAF” picnic, mentioned what he planned doing, and got others interested. He created a forum on “Nasza Klasa” where members write and review their poetry. They also have the opportunity to connect and form friendships through their mutual admiration of poetry.

The meeting’s setting is elaborate yet comforting, casual yet charming. Members bring baked goods and snacks to share which are placed upon a long table, around which the poets gather. Candles are lit, giving an effectively calming mood. A topic was chosen in a prior meeting which everyone wrote a poem about in the forum online. Members then vote and poems receiving the most points are read aloud at the meeting. First, second and third place winners are chosen from those. “Oscars” are handed to the winners. The Oscars are symbolic figures which have become a tradition at every meeting.

The first spring meeting for 2011 was recently held, with a topic of “Under the Eyelids.” As with all poetry, multiple interpretations develop. According to Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz, the Polish historian of aesthetics, poetry expresses a certain state of mind.

“There are times when we get serious while other times we laugh and have so much fun,” said Zofia Sota, member of the group since its inception. Sota is also an artist who creates breathtaking oil paintings.

Elizabeth Jones, also an original member, comes from Enfield with her friend, Anna Bania who lives in Springfield, MA. Bania’s husband, Wladyslaw, also accompanies the women. Jones prefers writing poetry for children, some of which she shared during April’s meeting.

As individual poets read their works in the glow of the candlelight, Malinka accompanied them on guitar, creating a truly special and emotional atmosphere.

“I was feeling low when I wrote this,” Malinka said as he read his ‘Under the Eyelids’ poem. “But I had hope and that can be bigger than reality. When you close your eyes, you can see more under your eyelids as your mind opens.”

Kinga Jastremska-Krzemien has loved writing poetry for over a decade. She discovered Obloki from the PAF web site. “I’m glad I came,” she said. “I’ve been looking for something like this.”

Mieczyslaw Bajek of New Britain writes prose. “Friendships are so important,” he said. “And that is what we have here.”

The evening’s poetry which was read included that of members not present such as Anna Zajaczkowska, Jan Kurek, Elizabeth Kowalski and Daria Dziedzic of Poland; Barbara Weise of Germany; and Krystyna Rzyszkowicz of New Jersey.