Off to Poland and Slovakia with Katherine Mansfield

Life here is never dull.  Just cramming a few items of clothing into Ryan Air sized hand-baggage and getting ready for the long drive to Milan airport to fly to Krakow early on Tuesday.  The Slovakian university of Ruzomberok is hosting a Katherine Mansfield conference, with special reference to her eastern european adventure in the form of writer/lover/chancer  Floryan Sobienovski, who had an affair with her at the spa in Germany where she lost her first baby, seems to have got her pregnant again, pursued her across Europe, turned up on her doorstep when she least wanted to see him and eventually blackmailed her over indiscreet letters she's written to him in the first flush of passion. 

Florayan also introduced her to the Polish language and a writer called Stanislav Wyspianski whose work she was helping him translate.  She wrote a lovely poem to Wyspianski too, in the style of Walt Whitman, which is a hymn to both Wyspianski and her homeland in NZ.

From the other side of the world,
From a little island cradled in the giant sea bosom,
From a little land with no history,
(Making its own history, slowly and clumsily
Piecing together this and that, finding the pattern, solving the problem,
Like a child with a box of bricks),
I, a woman, with the taint of the pioneer in my blood,
Full of a youthful strength that wars with itself and is lawless,
I sing your praises, Magnificent warrior; I proclaim your triumphant battle.

I've never been to Slovakia, or to Krakow, so really looking forward to this visit, as well as the company of other Katherine Mansfield fanatics!


  1. Fabulous! You'll have to do a blog post about the conference, Kathleen - I am at another KM conference in Paris this week, so I couldn't go. I'd love to hear how it goes :)

  2. Will do, Elizabeth - not sure how good the internet connections will be in our accommodation, but hoping to get on line regularly somehow!

  3. Enjoy Krakow, Kathy. I was there to research The Woman Who Drew Buildings and it lives in those pages. It is beautiful, intriguing but as a city it made me a little uneasy. The florid rhetoric of Katherine Mansfield's poem here is tricky but I love the 'taint of the pioneer' allusion.

    Looking forward to your post,

    Have a great time, dear traveller.



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