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You Are Not a Guest

A visit to Poland allowed me to recognize myself in a new way, in a place I never thought was mine

Leela Corman
April 28, 2021

Author’s note: I couldn’t possibly do justice in a single short piece to the generational healing work being done in Poland right now by the people I have mentioned here, so I promise you all that there will be more, and for now, I give my most profound thanks to Kamil Kmak, archivist of Grybow, finder of families, connector of the living to the dead, and beautiful writer; to Agnieszka Kmak for welcoming me into her home in Krakow and keeping me so perfectly caffeinated; Danuta and Andrej Kmak, who welcomed me into their home and fed me like my grandmother would have; Dariusz Popiela and his organization Ludzie Nie Liczby, whose work is vital and restorative; to Anna Boruch, the guardian of the Jewish cemetery of Grybow; to Iwona Malgorzata Nowak, angel photographer and tour guide; Prszemek Jaskiersy, who welcomed me back to my own ancestral country with such kindness; and most especially to Charly Shooster, who started this entire journey when she asked me to have coffee with her after her final class with me at UF, to Stephen Shooster for his indispensable help and kindness, and to Leon Schagrin for giving my grandfather back to me.

Leela Corman is an illustrator and cartoonist. Her most recent graphic novel, Unterzakhn, has been nominated for the LA Times Book Award and the Eisner Award.