Jacek Kaczmarski’s Memory

phot. Jerzy Grotowski
text by Klaudia Chabrzyk

Jacek Kaczmarski was Polish poet, composer and artist. He’s died 12 years ago while his fans are still fighting with stereotyping and generalizing his poems. He was writing about social and existential problems, but he is most known from writing on historical and political topics. He was a real bard of the Solidarity movement, the trade union that contributed to the fall of communism in 80s in Poland.

Kaczmarski was born in 1957 and began his artistic activity in 1976. He was involved in a fight with the red system he was writing mostly about it. His most popular songs are “Obława” (“The Chase”), “Mury” (“The Walls”), “Sen Katarzyny II” (“Catherine II’s Dream”) or “Zbroja” (“The armour”). The last one was a song beginning the program “Jacek Kaczmarski’s quarter” in Radio Free Europe. He’s become a member of this radio in 1984 in Munich. It was also a time of his tourney around the world when he was clearly alluding to the political situation in Poland. No wonder why is he mostly associated with his engagement in politics.


phot. Klaudia Chabrzyk

However, his artistic activity is definitely much more colourful and multi-thematic. Most of his fans especially appreciate philosophical songs and poems. Young people, born in liberated Poland, are more interested in existential songs: about love, human nature and the pleasures of life. They are curious about the references to art: painting (“Ślepcy” – “Blind people” – about Peter Bruegel’s painting), music (“Epitafium dla Boba Dylana” – “Epitaph for Bob Dylan”) or literature and poetry (“Lekcja historii klasycznej” – “Classical History Lesson” with quotes from the diaries of Julius Caesar). Kaczmarski was also the one who refreshed the biblical themes, focusing on existential problems. He also wrote a few erotica. He is the author of over 600 poems, 5 novels and 2 librettos. He was not afraid of any topic, very often discussing Polish and human weaknesses and criticising blind following of dogmas. He was fascinated with rebels, crisis situations and tragic choices which show the true human nature.

There are many places in Poland where Jacek Kaczmarski is commemorated. One of them is the Wroclaw Salon of Jacek Kaczmarski, that is 10 years old now. Each month is organized the concerto with one or two artists who only have a guitar and a microphone, just like Jacek Kaczmarski. The official concert is three hours long and after that the artist and audience continues singing and playing late into the night. This makes the experience incredible. One of the participants has once said that it creates the feeling of Kaczmarski’s presence in that place.


natalia-artemenkophot. Natalia Artmenko


The Wroclaw Salon of Jacek Kaczmarski is the place you absolutely have to visit during visiting Wroclaw if only you want to meet not only Polish culture, but the Polish culture that lives. Our culture is not only Adam Mickiewicz or Fryderyk Chopin. It is also the poets like Jacek Kaczmarski, whose artistic creation is still attracting young people and fascinates them so much, that they want to sing his songs late at night.



phot. Sandra Skopek