Józef Czechowicz (1903–1939). ENGLISH VERSION
Czechowicz was born, created his works and died in Lublin. His tragic death is reminded by the statue of the poet in Plac Czechowicza. The poet is seen as a nostalgic and catastrophic writer, nevertheless, he was also the leader of Lublin avantgarde and bohemia. The author of Poemat o mieście Lublinie (A Poem about Lublin) was a modern poet, whose works had strong influence on the next generations. So far, his output in the fields of drama, journalism, translation, photography and pedagogy has remained unnoticed. Czechowicz – regionalist has also been forgotten. Above all, this underestimated mistifier, genius and visioner, who lived a short but fascinating life, left – despite his early death – a very rich collection of works.
The "Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre" Centre organises events to commemorate Józef Czechowicz’s birth and death, every year there is also a public reading of Poemat o mieście Lublinie (A Poem about Lublin) combined with a walk around the places described in it. Special papers contributed to the poet’s work are issued here as well.
- Place and Date of Birth
- Czechowicz’s Family
- Czechowicz – Pedagogue
- The Poet’s Debut
- The "Reflektor" Group and Magazine
- The Avantgarde Leader
- The Poet in Warsaw
- Czechowicz – Journalist
- Czechowicz Bibliophile
- Czechowicz – Photographer
- Czechowicz and the Radio
- Czechowicz and the Cinema
- Czechowicz and Theatre
- Tragic Death
- Major Works
Place and Date of Birth
Józef Czechowicz was born on 15th March, 1903 in a basement flat in Kapucyńska 3 St in Lublin. The building no longer exists, it used to be situated in the back of what today is Galeria Centrum (Centrum Department Store).
Czechowicz was born in a poor family. His father was a bank janitor, and his mother a washerwoman. The poet soon lost all his close relations. This fact leaves a visible mark in his works. The poet’s older brother, Stanisław Czechowicz, a journalist with a vivid mind and brisk style, died of tuberculosis in 1925, at the age of 26.
He was buried in the Lublin cemetary at Lipowa St. The poet’s younger brother, Janek, whom Józef Czechowicz did not even remember, had been buried there as well in 1903. His father, Paweł Czechowicz, died in 1912, suffering from serious mental illness. Małgorzata Czechowicz, Józef Czechowicz’s mother, to whom his poems were often dedicated, died in April 1936. His sister, Katarzyna, died in 1958. Her family live in the Ukraine today.
Czechowicz – Pedagogue
A young graduate, Czechowicz was employed as a teacher in Słobódka. In the years 1923–1924 he taught in Włodzimierz Wołyński.
Since 1926 he also worked in a special school in Lublin, where he became a manager. He edited magazines for children: "Płomyk" and "Płomyczek". He was also active in "Głos Nauczycielski" ("Teacher’s Voice").
Czechowicz’s friends remember him as a person who treated his teacher’s profession seriously, taking notes, observing his pupils, which can be seen in entries in his diary.
The Poet’s Debut
The "Reflektor" Group and Magazine
After meeting the creators of the ‘Reflektor’ – Konrad Bielski and Wacław Gralewski – in the summer of 1922, Czechowicz sent them samples of his literary works and corresponded with them. The materials sent included the Opowieść o papierowej koronie (A Story of a Paper Crown). While choosing texts for the first issue of the "Reflektor", the young editors resigned from Czechowicz’s poetry, but decided to use this story. Later, they recognized the value of his poetry and started to print first poems in "Reflektor" – for example the one titled Na wsi (In the country). After entering these circles, Czechowicz also became acquainted with Czesław Bobrowski and Stanisław Grędziński. The group of literates used to meet most often in the office of "Express Lubelski" ("Lublin Express"), in Gralewski’s editing room. It was an important period in the young artist’s life, whose poetic breakthrough could be seen when he worked on the second issue of the "Reflektor" in 1925.
The Avantgarde Leader
The Poet in Warsaw
Czechowicz – Journalist
In 1926 he was one of the founders of Lubelskie Towarzystwo Miłośników Książek (Lublin Book Lovers’ Association). Naturally, the most desirable places to meet for people from such circles were bookshops, including the one run by a legendary Lublin bookseller, Franciszek Raczkowski.
As a member of the Lublin Book Lover’s Society, Czechowicz took part in meetings organized, among others, in Museum at Narutowicza 4 St. When he was a secretary of LTMK, he wrote a poem Z kroniki bibliofilów lubelskich (From the chronicles of Lublin bibliophiles) (1931).
He wrote a few articles concerning popularizing reading and love of beautiful books, which were printed in "Express Lubelski", "Kurier Lubelski" and "Ziemia Lubelska".
In 1932 the poet was one of the founders of Związek Literatów w Lublinie (Writers’ Association in Lublin).
Czechowicz – Photographer
Czechowicz and the Radio
Czechowicz and the Cinema
Czechowicz and Theatre
The poet wrote few dramas, published in "Pion": Czasu jutrzennego (Of Tomorrow Time), Jasne miecze (Bright Swords) and Obraz (The Picture). First of them was staged in Warsaw in Teatr Nowy in 1939. A small number of dramas is the result of the fact that the poet turned to this genre relatively late. However, in some of his previous works one can find a specific form of introducing dialogues and drama elements in the form of poems (Opowieść o papierowej koronie, Dwugłos, eros i psyche, elegia żalu, Rozmowa czyli kochankowie). His drama is a poetic drama, close to symbolic theatre.
Czechowicz also wrote theatrical reviews. Particularly, a lot of texts on theater were published in "Kurier Lubelski" in 1932, when he was its editor. Under the pen name Recenzent (Reviev Author) he wrote many reviews of plays in Lublin Theatre, close to which he had grown up, as the house on Kapucyńska St was situated near the Theatre on Narutowicza St. (then Namiestnikowska).
In the years 1927–1928 Czechowicz was a member of Komisja Teatralna (Theatrical Committee), set up in 1921 by the Lublin Magistrate as an opinion-giving body for the local authorities. Other members of the Committee were: Wacław Gralewski, rev. Ludwik Zalewski, Konrad Bielski, Feliks Araszkiewicz.
A close friend of Czechowicz was a thetre man, director, Wilam Horzyca.
Kamień, Lublin 1927
Poemat o mieście Lublinie, 1934
Ballada z tamtej strony, Warszawa 1932
Stare kamienie, Lublin 1934
Wyobraźnia stwarzająca. Szkice literackie, edited by Tadeusz Kłak, Lublin 1972