Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Controversy over "Growing Up Polack"

The Controversy over "Growing Up Polack"
What's the most controversial thing I've ever written?
It's not the poem about my mother people raped by German soldiers, and it's not my novel Suitcase Charlie with it's serial killing and dead kids in suitcases, and it's not the poems I've written about being a drunk and stupid -- almost homicidal -- hippie back in the 1960s.
The most controversial thing I've ever written is an essay called "Growing Up Polack." It's my personal essay about what it was like growing up a Polish refugee immigrant kid in Chicago in the 1950s and 60s.
I say controversial because it apparently is. I've had Polish Americans tell me that they have felt every word of my story in their own lives, and I've had other Polish Americans tell that me that I should be ashamed of myself for writing stuff like this that portrays Poles in such a damning light.
This essay has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize this year, and it's also been banned from Facebook pages for even using the word "Polack"!
‪Honestly, I don't understand the hatred this piece has generated, and I'm sure there will be more coming my way since this essay has just been republished in the Dziennik Zwiazkowy, the oldest Polish newspaper in America!‬
Check it out. In Polish and English. ‬And leave a comment whether you like it or not, whether you think I should be lauded or lashed. (Click on the word LINK and it will take you to the essay. It appears first in Polish and then when you scroll down in English.)