Miłka Malzahn

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  • fot. Zbyszek Filipiak

Born in 1971, a poet, prose writer and playwright, lyricist and vocalist; she has published short story collections – Baroness Late Autumn (2001) and There’s No Mono. There Are Short Stories (2007) – a novel entitled The Queen of Rhubarb (2004) and a book of poetry called Things that Have Transpired (2001); she also has to her credit the trip-hop album Map (2004); she lives in Białystok.

There can be no doubt that the most interesting part of Miłka O. Malzahn’s wide-ranging oeuvre is her prose. Beginning with her debut collection of short stories, Baroness Late Autumn, the writer has spoken in her own, recognizable and well established language. In the most general terms one might situate Malzahn’s prose in the genre of women’s literature, though this would not be entirely accurate, as the author “puts a twist” – to paraphrase the title of one of the works in her debut volume – on what most Polish female prose writers do. She does not bring elements of feminist ideology into her texts, she doesn’t depict the fate of women as marginalized, she doesn’t paint genre scenes from the lives of modern women. What she does do is try to bring the reader into the world of women, showing him/her the peculiarities of a feminine sensibility and perspective on the world. She writes of women’s search for their own identity (The Queen of Rhubarb), of complex male-female relationships, and of the friendships between women of different ages (Baroness Late Autumn, There’s No Mono). At the same time, she avoids a naive sort of realism. Malzahn would seem to be not only interested in a depiction of “hard reality,” but also in penetrating the ontologically unstable realm of dreams, the imagination, hallucination, or simply fiction. It is there, in that space between the truth and invention, that she seeks responses to the fundamental questions: Who is the modern woman, and what is she like? In searching her out, she creates fascinating portraits of women that are far from the stereotypical images in today’s women’s prose.

Melzahn plays with conventions, multiplies the levels of fiction, thus creating a refined and intriguing prose that could satisfy both those in search of literary tidbits and passionate plot devourers. You might say that this prose is as delicate, whispered, and atmospheric as a fado, a form which appears in the title of one of her stories in There’s No Mono.

Bibliography

  • Rzeczy wydarzone, Wojewódzki Ośrodek Animacji Kultury w Toruniu, Toruń 2001.
  • Baronowa Późna Jesień, “Homini”, Bydgoszcz 2001.
  • Królowa rabarbaru, Wydawnictwo FA-art, Bytom 2004.
  • Nie ma mono. Opowiadania są, Wydawnictwo FA-art, Katowice 2007.
  • Fronasz, Szczecin: Forma, 2009.