Izabela Filipiak

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  • By Ewa Shafik, via Wikimedia Commons

(born 1961) – writer, essayist, newspaper columnist and recently poet too. For several years she ran creative writing classes at the Gender Studies department of Warsaw University.

She published her first book in 1992, a collection of short stories entitled Death and the Spiral. In this book she referred to her many years as an émigré the USA, expressing her fascination with the gloomy corners of New York, and its eccentric, seemingly “unreal” citizens. For Filipiak, New York in the early 1990s was the birthplace of new ideas, with New Age spirituality and feminist theology at the fore. This book was issued by a small independent publishing house and did not reach the consciousness of the wider public. The breakthrough came with the appearance of Absolut Amnesia (1995), an astounding book in all sorts of ways, universally recognised as Izabela Filipiak’s best work to date. Through the fortunes of Marianna, a young girl growing up in the 1970s in a typical Polish family of that era, the author illustrates how an individual is socially and culturally formatted and made into an object. Filipiak has adopted a one-track feminist perspective – her heroine is a victim of the patriarchal system of authority. Left to herself, and thus emotionally neglected by her absent mother, terrorised by her brutal father and stupefied by her school, she is bound to lose. Maria Janion has compared the figure of Marianna to a modern Iphigenia, whose destiny is to be sacrificed on the altar of traditional values. Two years later Filipiak issued a collection of eleven stories entitled The Blue Menagerie, which marks a distinct autobiographical turn in her work. Since then, a subjective main theme has been a trademark of her writing. As in her original works, so in her instructive writing (the textbook Creative Writing for Young Ladies) she refers to modern conceptions of writing as an activity aimed at self-knowledge. Her first book of poetry, a collection entitled Madame Insight (2002), is also born in this spirit. She has also won renown as a talented, witty columnist. Her best articles have been collected into a book, The Culture of the Offended (2003), which aims its barbs at Polish intolerance, narrow, conservative thinking and inflexible morality.

Bibliography

  • Śmierć i spirala, Wrocław: A, 1992.
  • Absolutna amnezja, Poznań: Obserwator, 1995.
  • Niebieska menażeria, Warszawa: Sic!, 1997.
  • Twórcze pisanie dla młodych panien, Warszawa: WAB, 1999.
  • Madame Intuita, Warszawa: Nowy Świat, 2002.
  • Kultura obrażonych, Warszawa: WAB, 2003.
  • Alma, Kraków: WL, 2003.
  • Księga Em, Warszawa: Dom Wydawniczy Tchu, 2005.
  • Magiczne oko, Warszawa: WAB, 2006
  • Obszary odmienności. Rzecz o Marii Komornickiej, Gdańsk: słowo/obraz terytoria, 2007