Józef Łobodowski (1909–1988). ENGLISH VERSION
Next after Czechowicz leader of the Lublin avantgarde. He led a vivid rebel's life and was famous for numerous wrangles and acute opinions. A standing-out poet, prose writer, publicist and translator. He was also a boxer. In his writings he included motifs of Lublin and Lublin Region. He was an unmatched eulogist of Ukraine, devoted to the Polish-Ukrainian problem. Due to this fascination in the East he was given a nickname "Ataman Łobodi". In his literary output, translations of Ukrainian and Russian literature into Polish played a vital role. On the other hand, after his stay in Spain, where he had worked in Radio Madryt, he became a lover of this culture and of Gypsy romances and ballads.
Place and Date of Birth
Józef Łobodowski spent his early childhood in Lublin. In 1914, after the first world war broke out, the future poet's family was evacuated to Russia. He lived in Moscow to 1917, then he moved to North Caucasus, where he settled in Jejsk. There young Józef started attending a Russian secondary school. Soon after that the future poet's father and older sister, Janina, died – he in the revolution, she in a transport to Poland.
In 1922 Stefania Łobodowska with children, Wanda and Józef, comes back to Lublin, where Józef continues his education in a renowned Secondary school of Jan Hetman Zamoyski. In 1928 he becomes an editor in a school magazine "W słońce". It is a fortnightly review of literature, art, science and life published by young students of the school interested in literature.
Poverty in which his family lived made the future poet seek for different ways to earn a living: he worked in a post office, telgraph office, and gave private tutorials. He published his first poetry tome for his own money Słońce przez szpary (Sun through the gaps), (Lublin 1929) and sent it to Julian Tuwim, who objectively commented it, reviewed and encouraged the poet to continue writing. The second tome was entitled Gwiezdny psałterz (Star prayerbook), (Lublin 1931). Apart from writing his own poems, the artist started to translate Ukrainian poems and songs into Polish (as well as Russian and Belarussian ones).
In 1931 Łobodowski obtains his Matura certificate and starts law studies in the Catholic University of Lublin. In years 1931–1932 he publishes new poetry books. They are: W przeddzień (The day before) and O czerwonej krwi (About red blood) – the latter was confiscated as an insult for religion and morality. In those times Łobodowski's name, together with those of Józef Czechowicz, Franciszka Arnsztajnowa and Kazimierz Andrzej Jaworski, figures on the founder's list of Lubelski Związek Literatów (Lublin Literate's Association).
Student's way of life does not last long for the young "rebel poet": he is expelled from the university for manifesting his radical political views on 5th February, 1932. Although these circumstances will disable him from ever graduating, they will not affect his further literary output.
Lublin "Enfant Terrible"
Łobodowski is remembered as the most active person in Lublin literary circles. It is him who, at the beginning of 1930s, set up and for a short time edited two radical cultural magazines, "Barykady" (1932) and "Dźwigary" (1934–1935). We can see him in the editorial staff of 'young democracy magazine "Trybuna" (1932–1934). In pre-war period he gets most famous for two poetry books: Rozmowa z ojczyzną (Talk with home country) (Lublin 1935, second edition Warsaw 1936) and Demonom nocy (For the demons of night) (1936); the latter receives a Youth Prize of the Polish Academy of Literature (Polska Akademia Literatury).
At this time, Łobodowski moves away from his former comrades from the left. As a poet he gets closer to the second avantgarde circle, catastrophists and the Vilnus "Żagary" group. However, he does not break ties with Russian literature to which – as a poet – he owes a lot. In mid 1930s he publishes the second tome of translations under a symptomatic title U przyjaciół (At friends') in "Dźwigary" Poetry Library (Biblioteka Poetycka „Dźwigarów”). In the book we can find his translations of poems by Lermontow, Błok, Jesienin and Majakowski. In Author's preface he admits that he had chosen works emotionally important to him. However, due to the printing costs he had to resign from poems by: Niekrasow, Wołoszyn, Gumiliow, Puszkin, Briusow and Pasternak.
Critics such as: Ostap Ortwin, Tymon Terlecki, Ludwik Fryde, Kazimierz Wyka approvingly comment the visionary, prophetic and symbolic characters of the poems.
In the last days of August 1939 Łobodowski's soldier-errand epic begins. As a soldier, he fights in Wiśnicz, Łańcut, Bolechowiec. After the capitulation he gets to Hungary, when he is imprisoned in an internship camp. He writes his first war poems there, under the title Z dymem pożarów (With smoke of burning houses). They will later be published in 1941 by Samuel Tyszkiewicz's Printing House in Nice.
Spain in the Poet's Life
In mid 1940s Łobodowski publishes 2 books in Spanish: Por nuestra libertad y vuestra (Madrid 1945) i Literaturas eslavas (Madrid 1946). From 1949 to 1974 (some sources say that to 1975) Łobodowski cooperates with Polish section of Radio Madrid. This productive writer gives Polish literature translations of Spanish writers works: Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, Celderon de la Barka, Jose Sorillo, Garcia Lorka, San Juan de la Cruz, J.R. Jimenez, and many others. However, he does not accept the citizenship of this country. "I will not tell you: my second home land, because homeland is not an exchange cheque", he writes.
He is author of publications in emigration magazines, such as London "Wiadomości" (he has his own column named Worek Judaszów – Judas’ Sack), "Orzeł Biały", also Paris "Kultura" and "Zeszyty Historyczne". He often visits Paris and London, where – seen as one of the most poplar writers – he plays a substantial role in emigration's literary life. As it turns out later, his stay in Spain until his death leaves a trace of translations from Spanish poetry which are not known in Poland.
Almost half century does Józef Łobodowski live abroad, not seeing his home country, his mother nor sister. He lives with literature – every day more and more, and politics – every day less. He publishes eleven tomes of poetry and seven of prose novels. In 1947 Modlitwa na wojnę (London), is published, then Złota hramota (Paris 1954), Uczta zadżumionych (Paris 1954), Pieśń o Ukrainie (Paris 1959), Kasydy i gazele (London 1961), Czerwona wiosna (1965), Terminatorzy rewolucji (1966), Nożyce Dalili (1968), Jarzmo kaudyńskie (London 1969), Rzeka graniczna (1970), W połowie wędrówki (London 1972), Dwie książki (Paris 1984), Mare Nostrum (1986), Pamięci Sulamity (Toronto 1987), Rachunek sumienia (Paris 1987), Dytyramby patetyczne (London 1988). In addition to the above-mentioned "tetralogy" about Józef Zakrzewski, Łobodowski publishes another three-tome novel based on his own memories from his childhood in Ukraine in times of revolution and civil war: Komysze (1955), W stanicy (1958) and Droga powrotna (1961). For his literary output he was honoured with the prize of "Kultura" in 1961.
Łobodowski’s rich poetical output has not been available for people in Poland until today. Previously, his works were a subject of studies of contemporary Polish literature researchers: in Toruń – Janusz Kryszak's, in Katowice – Tadeusz Kłak's, in Lublin – Ludmiła Siryk's and Jerzy Święch's, in Cracow – Ryszard Łużny's. Marek Zaleski wrote a lot about Łobodowski in his book Przygoda drugiej awangardy (Second Avantgarde's Adventure) (Ossolineum 1984) and Irena Szypowska.
It turns out that Łobodowski's output cannot be omitted if we talk about Polish poetry issues, both concerning period between the wars and after the second war. Łobodowski has an important place there.
Józef Łobodowski died of heart stroke on 18th April 1988 in Madrid. According to his will his body was cremated and the ashes were brought to Lublin and buried on 22nd October, 1988 in his mother's grave in the cemetery at Lipowa St. His friends from London and Paris took care of his literary output.