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Chapter 7

Marysia's Voice


Marysia and two of her children, Peter and Anna, in Podhale, Poland in 1989
Photograph by Louise Wrazen

Defining Home through Song in Poland and Canada
by Louise Wrazen

Marysia Mąka spent her childhood and early adulthood in the Podhale region in the Tatra Mountains of southern Poland as a Górale or Highlander, singing with local groups. In 1992, age twenty-nine, she migrated to Toronto, Canada, where singing enabled her to sustain and renew her sense of personal identity in relation to motherhood (as mother of twelve children) and ethnicity.

Within a framework of dislocation, local contexts, and a happy marriage and family life, Marysia creates community through her singing and compositions, using her voice to maintain connections to landscape, people, a sense of home, and language.

Marysia singing with her husband, Jasiek (on her left), and Bolek Mąka (on her right), with Józef Siuty accompanying in the background, in Brampton, Ontario, Canada in 2008. Photograph by Louise Wrazen.

Louise Wrazen: "I first met Marysia in 1985. I lived with her sister and her family in the small village of Rogoźnik when I first arrived in Podhale, and we often visited Marysia and her family in the neighbouring village of Stare Bystre. I spent a fair bit of time with Marysia at her home or accompanying her to various rehearsals, either at the church or at the local community hall where she led the local ensemble with her husband.

"I heard her sing for the first time at an ensemble rehearsal, and recorded her there as well as in her home. She has always been warm and welcoming, extending an unqualified generosity and openness—even though the times we see each other are often separated by months or years. I also lived with her for a short time in Podhale (in 1989). There were few formal interviews during this period; rather, there were many conversations and a lot of listening and observing. I helped with chores, hung around the kitchen, spent time attending to a variety of errands and activities with Marysia, and learned some repertoire from her and her husband.

"I didn't see Marysia for several years after she came to Canada, yet when we met again I was relieved to find an older connection sustained. We now required a different schedule of arranged meetings and more focused conversations due at least in part to Marysia's hectic life as a mother of a very large family. Seeing her now both at her home as well as at various performances and in the community always with her children, I began to think differently about Marysia's singing as more firmly contextualized within her roles as mother and wife."

Hej Poco zes tu prysła

Hej Poco zes tu prysła [.mp3 file] – Sung by Marysia Mąka and her husband Jasiek Mąka and others during a rehearsal in 1985 (Stare Bystre, Podhale Poland)

Hej spalił sie młostecek

Hej spalił sie młostecek [.mp3 file] – Sung by Marysia Mąka and her husband Jasiek Mąka in their home (Stare Bystre, Podhale Poland)

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