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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

Day to mark Tears of Blood

11th March 2019

On 1 April 2019 there will be an event at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews to foster public awareness both of the work of the poet and singer Papusza and of the attempted genocide of the Romani people by the Nazi regime during the 1940’s. 

Bronislawa Wajs (1908-1987) was born one of the Polska Roma, or Polish Romani, and was known by her Romani name Papusza, meaning ‘doll’. She became a singer and was an eye witness to the genocide or Porajmos – which literally means ‘devouring’. Indeed, she is the earliest known Romani to have written on the subject having been encouraged by Jerzy Ficowski to write her songs down as poems in 1950 which were published as Pieśni Papuszi (Papusza’s Songs).

One of the most important of Papusza’s poems is ‘Tears of Blood’ which deals with the Romani and how they suffered at the hands of the German soldiers at Volyň (Volhynia) in 1943 and 1944 and this has become the centrepiece of the event at St Andrews. The poem was recently translated by writer Hamish MacDonald into both English and Scots, with the collaboration of Dr Tomasz Kamusella and Dr Elena Marushiakova, with editing and proofing by Bruce Eunson who is Scots Coordinator at Education Scotland. A Scottish Gaelic version has also been produced by writer and translator Rody Gorman.

The event ‘Tears of Blood’ will run from 9am until 4.30pm on Monday 1 April at the Byre Theatre Studio, Abbey Street, St Andrews. For more information please contact either Dr Tomasz Kamusella at tdk2@st-andrews.ac.uk or Hamish MacDonald at hame.macdonald@googglemail.com .

For a detailed programme of events for the day please click on the file below.