Another “barbarian” has appeared “in the garden” – Eugeniusz Kabatc together with his The weather of the storm over Palermo (Pogoda burzy nad Palermo). He entered into the garden with the aging writer and poet, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, being for the last time in the country of Canaletto.

A trip to Italy is the time of memories, intellectual discussions and dilemmas; it is the possibility of existing among its breathtaking cultural heritage. It is also a chance for the sunshine and eternity. In the relation of Kabatc our “Polish understanding” of culture is juxtaposed to the understanding of us by those “aliens” living somewhere almost on the other side of the world, on the shores of the Mediterranean. Our banners of saviors of nations, of Prometheuses carrying fire for all of humanity, fade in the strong sunlight of distant warm countries… Although The weather of the storm… reconstructs the expedition to a distant land which occurred half a century ago, it reminds us that there is a world different than ours which is characterized by an external ceremonial patriotism, that there are different trees, even stones in meadows dotted with different flowers.

The crude volcanic landscape of the island encourages thoughts that would not have risen in Stawisko – Kabatc recalls it from memory, together with the names of famous painters and streets flooded in sunlight. When moving around their white and blue corridors, feet tap out the word “distance” in the stone sidewalks – distancing oneself from real-life and even from poetry and literature. Iwaszkiewicz and Kabatc, both with the complex of a man living “behind the Iron Curtain”, looking in the nooks and crannies of the Mediterranean city negotiate the boundaries between Southern Europe, the cradle of our European civilization, and the sense of belonging to the Russian-Ukrainian history and the roots from which the soul of Iwaszkiewicz derived.

Palermo is a special place for Iwaszkiewicz – there he had began his literary journey, and there also, years later, he judged how far he had come. The charm and atmosphere of the island forced him and Kabatc, as the author of The weather of the storm…, to transcribe the dialogue between fiction with reality. The dilemmas of Iwaszkiewicz become in this poetic, bittersweet memoir a certain way to rate the elapsed time. But the great story that is neither fiction nor reportage, neither prose nor poetry, shows not only the spiritual dilemmas of the Master from Stawisko. It is also the art of expressing that what is inexpressible, so characteristic of the pen of Eugeniusz Kabatc. His Bitter beach (Gorzka plaża) and Too much sun (Za dużo słońca) have for the past few years occupied a place of honor in my bookcase “Polish prose full of traces of the reception of existentialism”. For The weather of the storm… I do not need any label – all indicates that throughout the upcoming winter I will be carrying this “sun” in my backpack.

Joanna Roś