Magdalena Brzezińska is a graduate of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. She is a sworn translator, an international conference speaker, an EFL teacher with over 25 years of experience and a teacher trainer with over 12 years of experience. Previously, she was an assistant lecturer at the University of Warmia and Masuria, Poland. At present, she teaches General and Business English to students of the WSB University in Poznan, where she was awarded third place in the Best English Instructor category in the year 2018. She is Membership Officer for the international Visual Arts Circle and a member of the Virtual Round Table/ vLanguage web conference. Magdalena took part in the Erasmus+ CountMeIn2 project for people with disabilities and learning difficulties, which she discusses in her recent article published in the e-Mentor Magazine of the Warsaw School of Economics (http://www.e-mentor.edu.pl/artykul/index/numer/74/id/1348 ). Magdalena is also an active advocate of peacebuilding through creating bonds between people of various nationalities, cultures and religions. For several years she has organized literary and artistic projects (to be viewed at https://issuu.com/magdabr ) with this aim in mind. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
When you were a kid, were you convinced that your teachers belong to a weird species that lives at school, their first name is Miss and their favorite hobby is grading tests? You were, were you? So was I, years before I became an ELT professional. It was so shocking to see those people in the street, walking hand in hand with their husband (their husband?!?), or cycling in the forest. Do these people actually have a life outside of school? Can they enjoy anything other than being a teacher?
Although I have always loved my profession and called it a vocation, my passions have been an equally important part of my life, even if my poems or art always ended up in the drawer. Apart from an occasional Facebook post, I may have been too shy to actually publish them for the world to see. I was waiting for some vague miraculous occurrence, a breakthrough that would change the state of affairs. And it did happen. It happened when I thought outside the box.
Perhaps you know the quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi and mocked as “bumper sticker wisdom” by Brian Morton of the New York Times: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Perhaps it is grandiloquent and exaggerated. But it works. At least for me it did. One day I woke up and thought to myself: “What am I waiting for? And why am I waiting? Why not assume there are other people like me out there who want to share their world with others and be seen and heard?”
It was then that I cautiously organized the first literary project and advertised it among my friends. I set a theme, back then inspired by the motto of Museo de la Palabra: “the word is the link between people, and the language is the structure that unites us and singles us out as human beings”, and also by the mail art project We Share the Ancient Skies of my friend Cynthia Willett, an artist based in New York City. It turned out some of my friends had been waiting for such an initiative. Initially, I was joined by ten sensitive, creative individuals. Since then, the project has grown exponentially: altogether, it has gathered over 40 participants from all the inhabited continents of the world, mostly ELT professionals, who prove that art is a lingua franca for all the races, cultures, nations and religions. The general title, “Linking Worlds”, was given to our projects by one of the participants, artist and ELT professional Agneta M Lindh.
Some of our themes were: changes, remembering and forgetting, untold stories, or music. Incidentally, the topics make each booklet a great resource for the ESL/EFL classroom. Apart from poetry, we publish stories, art and photographs. And I dare say each project is getting better and more intense and produces even more inspiring results. Check it out for yourself at https://issuu.com/magdabr . You will recognize the volumes by a uniform graphic design.
And now let me say no more. Just dive into the profound sensitivity, but also humor, and wonderful creativity of the weird species: teachers.
The beat goes on?
We’re living in a world where everything’s faster
Emojis, memes, acronyms so hard to master
There’s not enough effort, there’s not enough time
Good thing we still have the time to rhyme
Videos are shorter, here comes a boomerang
I’ll answer your message with a video of mine
No one writes, no one converses
Good thing that songs still have verses
We don’t use our words and just send a like
Our discourse skills have taken a hike
We search for a gif, they never will bore us
Good thing that music still has a chorus
Where did the days go when we heard full CDs?
We listened to vinyl both side A and side Bs
We are moving through life in bits and pieces
Good thing that the music never ceases
Turn off your iTunes, Spotify and do something drastic
Take time from your day and experience a classic
Connect with the music, feel all the emotion
Bring back days filled with harmonic motion
Learn to connect, to dance and sing
It’s as old as time, it ain’t no new thing
Heal your soul, it’s very therapeutic
Good thing we still have this thing called music
Rob Howard, Poland/USA
Many memories just
These subtly shift over time
deepening in color and flavor.
These are the memories that inform me as I grow ever older.
What I did badly, unthinkingly;
What I survived;
What was good at the start but crumbled over time;
And what has endured as a central way of being.
Shame fades into knowledge and forgiveness.
Pridefulness ebbs with perspective.
Some submerges to become hidden strength.
Not so much letting go as finally beginning
Flashes of color and the sepia tinge of old photographs, old memories
Deborah Healey, PhD, USA
President-Elect of TESOL International
A Waltz and a wish
One, two, three and four.
Waltzes tap your memory's door.
All the noises of today
Fail to sweep the hopes of May;
Fail to stop the flow o' steps,
Or the smiles on your lips,
Though it all is but a dream;
And the gleam is just a gleam.
Waltzes are, and'll always be
Just like thoughts of Eden are
And the tunes from afar.
One, two, three and four.
Waltz and hope for evermore.
Samar Tulba, Egypt
The Sensations of Every Step
Not the one I accepted
Not the one I declined
Not the one I pined for
longed for heart aching
Not the one I took
in need to replace.
Not the one you offered
Not the one everybody saw
feet fluttering never
but the one I cannot grasp
dancing with the moments
[no] not to be grasped grabbed
just to be waltzed
in the kitchen
over the living room floor
to your own rhythm
- my rhythm
Not the one I accepted
Not the one I declined [rightfully]
pined for took or was offered
[misguided] [proud] [lukewarm]
Not at an even pace
Da Capo Da Capo
But the one I waltz whirl
dancing with the moments
every turn every beat
until I feel
the sensations of every step
until I feel
Agneta M Lindh, Sweden
Keenly they know,
how things go.
illusions of permanence.
Nothing but change.
Anthony Kolasny, USA
They dreamt as they looked way up high
At the beauty that is our sky
Then wondered how they could fly?
Then thunk their thoughts with might
To solve the conundrum of flight
And so they who, invented the kite,
Designed, inspired by insect and bird
Further they went I have heard
As vision for them was ne'er blurred
Alas the kite is held by string,
The cleverest men from Peking
Wondered how to be the cosmic king
And so they wandered in in the bazaar
To find something that could gaze afar
Thus bringing closer that distant star
Now many have looked from east and west
Answering questions that have been addressed
Kindly giving their knowledge on request
To share the wisdom of mankind
Carving knowledge of stars, aligned
Always sharing everything they find
So this I think is why we ask the question, why?
Because we dream the dream of how to fly
When we look into the beautiful night sky
Paul Brannan, Great Britain/ Poland
The upside down
The fall is breading the spring,
Flowers are bloomed by the fallen leaves,
Make up the hope.
Winter is being waved as you await the fall.
My seeding is reaping in your garden
Color up the surprise.
The migrate birds are awake,
fare forth across the Pacific Ocean,
My greeting is on the way to you,
Mark down the miss.
Missing is like an invisible hand,
Leading the drifters through the darkness.
When the morning sunlight is dazzling,
Xuan Zhang, China/Australia
Echoes of the Past
Morning spring breeze
Slithers through the open window
A smell of grass freshly mowed
Like Aladin’s carpet
She is now eleven years old.
The window now has wooden shutters
Reminders of safer times
When she could open her casements wide
And greet a passerby.
Same soul inside a body
Trapped, same as now
That body stubbornly grows
Grows to an awkwardness
To stop it
No signs of decay
That body is the same
Or so they say
No trace is left behind
That body stubbornly shrinks
Echoes of the past
Is she both
Is she none?
María Laura Scasso, Argentina
Can I talk to you, silence?
Better than talking to another
Dear ‘sige’, I remain within your enclosure and in it I feel safe
No pain when in you
Floating in you I feel free
Your gentle whisper against all cacophony
Silence, you are a noise
My noise, beneath words
Behind words you are
I am the hollow place inside which you reverberate
Your deafening sound releases me.
In your arms, ‘sige’,
In your arms, until we are one
Vicky Papageorgiou, Greece
*’Sige’ means silence in ancient and modern Greek
What my husband means to me
To me, my husband means a wall.
A wall can shelter me from many things –
From the wind, the sun, the rain...
It can also provide me with privacy –
Which I need so that I can be the me who
Nobody else is allowed to see.
Sometimes, this wall is high – very high...
And at times, this wall is only but a fence
On which I can lean on, to enjoy life as
It passes by.
On the wall, there’s a great surface area
On which I can hang up those memories which I
So treasure and love.
Sometimes, the wall seems to be a barrier –
It seems to shut me out of somewhere,
Where I long to be.
But now, with God’s help and patience and perseverance,
I have discovered that it contains doors and windows
Through which I can enter and look.
What a relief!
The wall offers me the boundaries which I need
To see so that I have a direction in my life,
So that I know how far I can go and where it’s safer
And best to stay.
I’ve learnt that I need this wall to have my family living
Securely –as it is a fundamental part that structures
A house that houses a family.
A wall is made of strong material which can be hard but
Yet can provide the right material for a fine piece of art.
The wall can be of many colours – but
As long as there is sunshine on this wall,
Then it won’t be cold and damp and dark but
Bright and warm and comfortable to lean against.
A wall that is well built will last forever.
Carmen Camilleri, Malta
Queen of my heart
My heart is always calling you
My life would be nothing without you
You know I faced hard moments
But in the darkness your love was the light to guide me through
You're the queen of my heart
Your love is the beginning and the start
Your love is the beauty, is an art
I am thankful for each day
Her love was by my side, and I pray
To see my children growing with her and say
You're the Queen
Come what may…
Habiba Chouchen, Tunisia
I hear her call me
In my frozen silent dreams of snow.
Her voice comforts
Though the words
Are in a language I do not know.
Birch branches wave
In the mercurial moonlight above me.
I wander forward
Hoping it would be her I see.
Who is she?
She is my mother’s great-great-grandmother.
She is belonging,
Home and family.
She is the sound of my no longer being “other.”
Her hands hold traditions
I long to know and make alive.
But they are hidden
Masked by change
And the selfish ignorance of time.
Snow falls and I awake
To find I am home with my own family.
Perhaps she knew,
Perhaps she hoped,
That finding my way was always only up to me.
Elyse Black, USA
A pair of swallows
Hurtling up and down
Arrival of spring
Mineko Tsukamasa, Japan
with a thud of a broken trunk
the nut leaf
Agnieszka Jankiewicz, Poland
I hate the rain
It resembles your tears
It starts again
And reveals all my fears
I hate the rain
This reminds me of pain.
My poor brain
Can’t forget your name!
- It happened several years ago
When I let all my feelings go
So we could have a lot of fun
And thought we’ll need each other as flower and sun.
- But summer finished very fast
Then autumn came I learnt at last
You wanted to play your double-life
So I refused and said “Good-bye!
- The fall has started soon again
And I can see this gloomy rain
But I’ve got memories of past
I wonder how long it’s going to last.
Arevhat Simonyants, Uzbekistan
Sounds came at all times,
Waltzes, cumbias, tangos.
Sounds from the world
Which kept the neighbours awake.
A rough carpet was intended
To muffle the high-pitched tones.
However, the melodies
Could reach faraway spots.
The mystery of the musician
Was never resolved
Until the maid confessed
No man lived in that home.
How can that be?
Who plays like that?
I don’t know, people.
Unless…it’s the cat.
Sole Afra Martínez, Argentina
« Remember or Forget !»
Princess in a nice pink organdy dress
Assorted socks and patent leather shoes
Prince in elegant black trousers and white shirt
Head high up with or without a tiara, a crown
Pride your parents feel strutting around
To arrange every single detail behind
Your mischievous little eyes
Ready to fail to comply with the parents’ rules
Forgotten seems to be the chorus
You’re at times the one that dazzles your beloved’s eyes
At times the cloud that hides another memory
When following instructions seems too complicated
For the impish youngster that‘s tight to you .
Forgotten doesn’t apply to the eyes of love that watch you
You’re the rain that keeps their pastures green
And their forest alive and erases their hard moments
Who minds your untied plaits
Who minds your wrongly tied laces
Every moment, event, encounter is a picture
Store them in the mind, an unforgettable open drawer
Words have their use, stick them up to abuse
Paint, draw and keep their sense in motion
The growing-up genius in action
On the path to a foreseeable future
Caring for the distant vision of the next generation
Be ready to amass age’s wisdom
To distribute endless rules to your own heirs
Patricia Emilien, New Caledonia
Two Sociable Loners
Second year at the Uni
Hiding away in a lobby corner
His smile shoots you from behind a purple rose
Winter vacation in the mountains
Huddled on a bunk bed late at night
The Wizard of Sound
Embracing his guitar in the crowd
Last year at the Uni
Crawling back home
Doomed by what was meant to be
Aware of the disaster
To glide away and devour his oyster
Twenty years later
Cooking dinner for your family of five
His count of Facebook friends: 2,500+
Magdalena Brzezińska, Poland
Please check the Creative Writing with Mario Rinvolucri course at Pilgrims website.
Please check the Creative Methodology for the Classroom course at Pilgrims website.
Magdalena Brzezinska, Poland