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75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

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[Behind the main Birkenau camp there were two more crematoria, Krems IV and V. They were considerably smaller than II, and III but were still of sufficient size to kill many people each day. 
The area was cordoned off with barbed wire. Branches of leaves were woven thickly into the wire to deaden noises and shield the crematoria and gas chambers from view. The first view is of the path leading to Krematorium V that began operations on April 4, 1943. It had a cremation capacity of 768 corpses in a 24-hour period. The ruins of the structure are at the end of a path. People were either brought here by truck or were forced to walk about a mile to what has become known as 'The Little Wood'.]
On this day you may wish to read my description of and reflections on a rather gruelling and bleak visit to Auschwitz/Birkenau in the early 1990s (before it was sanitized as a tourist attraction modern times) from my literary travel book on Pol…

The National Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition, 1-9 February 2020, Warsaw, Poland

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The National Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition took place for the first time in 1968 and currently is one of the most important piano competition in Poland. Organised by The Fryderyk Chopin Institute, it is dedicated to Polish young musicians: students of the Academies of Music as well as the Secondary Schools of Music. It is carried out every year (with the exception of the years that precede the International Chopin Competition) and it can be a ticket to the participation in the international competition (the 1st and 2nd prize allow to take part in the International Chopin Competition without the first preliminary stage); many prizewinners of the national competition were successful later in the International Chopin Competition (Janusz Olejniczak, Krystian Zimerman, Ewa Pobłocka, Krzysztof Jabłoński, Wojciech Świtała, Rafał Blechacz). The upcoming edition of the National Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition will take place in Warsaw, on 1–9 February 2020. The programme of the competitio…

Olga Tokarczuk - Nobel Prize for Literature 2018

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Diary entries:

March 23  2018
Last night I attended an interview/lecture Olga Tokarczuk gave at the British Library in London. Thought provoking in the extreme. I suggest you buy this book ('Flights' or 'Bieguni' in Polish) published quite some time ago now (2007) but recently long-listed for the International Booker Prize. It will sell out after she wins! My prediction....


May 1st 2018

Am at present reading the Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk's 'Flights'. 'Bieguni' in Polish.




A brilliant and unique vision and formal experiment in composition. Formal experiment so rarely happens in English books - publishers with their eye on sales dare not but will publish translations that experiment of course!
The book is based upon the idea of self contained sequences that concern travelling, human anatomy and experiences during periods of mobility disconnection from everyday predictable routine and habit. The sequences are of different lengths yet discrete, stories and pe…