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Exhibition coverage

Humanists’ Szczecin at the Lentz Willa – vernissage: A true poet’s portrait

Thursday at the Lentz Villa was dedicated to two Great Ladies of Polish Verse. The first of them, Wisława Szymborska, native of Cracow, was hailed as ‘the mistress of virtuosity, brevity, and subtle humour’. She was a poet, essayist, critic, translator, columnist, co-founder of Polish Writers' Association (SPP), member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (PAU), recipient of the Order of the White Eagle, and Nobel Prize Winner for literature (1996).
Our other protagonist, Joanna Kulmowa, was a poet, actress, theatre director, author of stage works, a cycle of responsorial psalms, radio dramas, and novels. A large proportion of her output was addressed to children, who awarded her the Order of the Smile, whereas the authorities of the University of Szczecin (USz) granted this famous resident of Strumiany in Western Pomerania an honorary doctorate (2010).

The friendship that developed between these two eminently modest Artists is reflected in their letters, ‘full of kindness, humorous remarks, mutual support and warmth, but also of intimate confessions and reflections on the future of poetry – brilliantly written, touchingly sincere and caring…’ The numerous visitors that flocked to August Lentz’s former residence had the opportunity to listen to these letters, read aloud by Ms Lidia Rogaś, Deputy President of the City of Szczecin, and Professor Waldemar Tarczyński, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Szczecin.

An important point in the event’s programme was the debate from the cycle ‘Values in Culture: Biographies, Autobiographies, and Letters…’, chaired by Professor Urszula Chęcińska (head of the Unit for the Study of Joanna Kulmowa’s Output at the University of Szczecin). The following experts participated in the debate: Prof. Adam Wątor (head of USz Centre for Biographical Studies and editor-in-chief of ‘Polish Biographical Studies’), Prof. Ryszard Skrzyniarz (editor-in-chief of ‘Biografistyka Pedagogiczna’ / ‘Biographical Studies and Education’), Prof. Jerzy Madejski (editor-in-chief of ‘Autobiografia Literatura Kultura Media’ / ‘Autobiography Literature Culture Media’ academic journal), and editor Elżbieta Krzewska. The scholars discussed, among others, the role of biography in literature, culture, and education, as well as the importance of ongoing biographical studies for scientific research.

The exhibition of collages by Wisława Szymborska made an enormous impression on our audience. These are works (called ‘paste-outs’ by the author) which she began to create by the score in the 1970s. One of the reasons why she prepared them (frequently spontaneously) by herself (apart from the pleasure of creating works of art addressed to specific persons) was also, or perhaps primarily, the lack of fine-quality postcards in the then Polish market. She created thousands of such collages over a period of about forty years.

The exhibition, curated by Urszula Chęcińska, was prepared by Monika Szpener, lecturer at the Faculty of Industrial Design, West Pomeranian University of Technology (ZUT) in Szczecin.

The event was thematically related to our competition ‘Letters to August’ (announced this summer), whose main objective was to encourage a return to traditional art of letter writing, now supplanted by emails and texting. The competition jury, chaired by Urszula Chęcińska (members: Waldemar Wojciechowski, Michał Dębowski, Jagoda Kimber, Kinga Konieczny, and Sylwia Trojanowska) awarded the authors of the most interesting letters.

The evening’s additional attraction was a programme of jazz standards performed by the trio of Wojciech Gunia, Alex Marek, and Maciej Strycharczyk.

The event’s host was Konrad Pawicki.


The project HUMANISTS’ SZCZECIN AT THE LENTZ VILLA is a joint initiative of the Lentz Villa and the University of Szczecin. Honorary patronage over this event has been assumed by Piotr Krzystek, President of the City of Szczecin, and Professor Waldemar Tarczyński, His Magnificence Vice-Chancellor of the University of Szczecin.

The Lentz Villa management would like to thank the programme’s partners: the University of Szczecin, the Wisława Szymborska Foundation, and Znak publishing house, for their cooperation and co-organising the event.

Fotorelacja z 6 października 2022

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