Poland's English-language blogosphere

Next month a breathless nation will learn the results of the fifth annual Polish blog awards, known as Blog Roku 2009. Neither Polandian nor any other English-language blog about Poland will be among the winners because rule number 5 states quite emphatically that in order to qualify a blog must be written in Polish. I think this is exceptionally unfair and a little bit stupid. I can understand why the overall winner can’t sensibly be an English-language blog but couldn’t us poor benighted foreigners writing in the language of international communication about our adopted home country at least have our own category?

The English-language blogging community in Poland is small but beautifully formed and accounts for tens or hundreds of thousands of page views a month. Somebody is reading us and it’s not just lonely English teachers. Excuse me while I indulge in a spot of own-trumpet blowing but Polandian is creeping towards a million page views over the two years it has been online. The Beatroot is, I suspect, in the same territory. I’m willing to bet there are not many Polish-language blogs that can boast those kind of numbers. I don’t care about the prizes and I doubt Polandian would win one anyway but it seems perverse that us English-language bloggers are not even allowed in the running.


A graphic representation of Poland’s English-language blogosphere (click for larger version) showing one-way and two-way links (some people are not good at returning links). Polandian is in the center just because that’s where I began clicking links. I’ve excluded commercial sites (such as Anna’s Polish Blog) and those who no longer focus on Poland (such as Expateek) but left in Pinolona because we like her and she might move back to Poland at any moment. There’s a lot of great stuff out there people.

A quick review of notable English-language blogs about Poland:

W-wa Jeziorki
The first time I looked at Michael Dembinski’s blog I was convinced it would be the last time. Why would I want to read about the minutiae of life in a small flat suburb of Warsaw I asked myself? Two years later I never miss a post. Why is it fascinating? I have no idea, but it is.
By the way you have to watch Mr. Dembinski, he starts new blogs without warning. Grey Jumper’d Childhood, a blog about growing up in 1960s England, and Flyingoko, a blog about an Anglo-Pole’s perspective on the UK, have already arrived amongst us.

20 East
Written by my one remaining Polandian stablemate Ian Scattergood. better known as Scatts, 20 east is a shotgun-style personal blog that might at any given moment assault you with tales of misbehaving cats, urban regeneration, or record-breaking bird-watching moments. Fortunately, since Ian is a natural writer, the whole thing remains utterly readable.

Politics, Economy, Society
Written by a more-or-less anonymous Polish student, PES can be a daunting read for the generally attention-deficient blog reader, but it’s worth the effort. The bloke refuses to compromise and will hit you with 2,000 words about Polish corruption if he feels it’s needed. The fact that he makes the effort to do all this in English leaves me in awe.

Our Man in Gdansk
Written by the, presumably, fictitious H. Grodsk Monkey OMG has been going since 2005 and covers every Polish thing under the sun in a pleasantly amusing style. OMG is an older style English-language blog about Poland in that its author remains strictly anonymous despite clearly being involved in Poland’s rather small English-language journalism industry. I find this odd.

The Beatroot
The grandaddy of popular English-language blogging about Poland the author of the Beatroot also scrupulously maintains his anonymity. All we know is that he knows his Polish current affairs and knows how to write about them in an amusing and engaging way. He may also be a vegetable.

There are many others (see the graphic) but I’m out of time this Sunday night.

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24 thoughts on “Poland's English-language blogosphere

  1. MaterialGirl says:

    island1 you have to start quite new competition: The Best Foreign Blog about Poland. I ‘m wondering what could get a winner…

  2. malaysian says:

    It’s kind of hard to come up with the Best Blog – I mean I’m sure there’re many blogs there about Poland from Japanese (their obsession with Chopin), Hindi, Malay to Spanish and beyond.

    Someone somehow is going to come up with a Rule #5 and somebody else will write a blog about it because his blog is being discriminated.

    Just kidding:))

  3. Ahem, point about links well taken… I’m adding now.

  4. Bartek says:

    I felt discriminated in this contest. I even received by e-mail an invitation to participate (personal one, they addressed me “student SGH”) and asked them if it wasn’t at odds with the rules and why couldn’t my blog run and they replied they hadn’t noticed in was written in English (Russian and Arabic have different letters, English uses Latin ones, only isn’t pricked with those funny ę, ś, ó and other funny signs that make a foreigner’s life a hell) and that rules could not be bent and if I wanted to win a prize, I should blog in Polish.

    Your piece about PES is very discerning, apt and amusing. And you saw through my intentions so incisively…

    Scatts’ blog is indeed readable, he’s got the knack for writing in a very plain way and does it at ease, so 20 east is quite approachable for readers for whom English is a second language.

    I ran across W-wa Jeziorki while looking for something about my neighbourhood and immersed in it. But my view is a bit different, as many of the places captured on the photos are familiar to me. Micheal Dembinski just knows how to write about the commonplace and grab readers’ attention.

    And about the links. My blog links to W-wa Jeziorki and Pinolona and W-wa Jeziorki links to mine. It has been missed.

  5. island1 says:

    Wasn’t aimed at you. I think you’ve linked to us as long as we’ve linked to you. There are some sites that don’t link to anybody, which I always find a bit weird.

  6. island1 says:

    I bet that made you feel special :)

    Link comment wasn’t aimed at you either. But if you have been leeching off Pinolona you’re a very bad man.

  7. I’m now socially pro-active. I’ve added all the related blogs I could find. I’ve got a feeling of a job well done :]

  8. Bartek says:

    no more special than when I am the only passenger in a bus controlled by a ticket inspector or when I have to show my dowód osobisty when I buy alcohol.

    Don’t you jump to conclusion. my blog links to “Travels without my spaniel”, to be precise. And links are not about “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”. Blogroll is a list of blog I read, find worth reading and can recommend reading to my guests. And I do not expect fellow bloggers to place links to my blog because my blog links to theirs. But it would be nice of them if they did, because they found by blog of note.

    After all I’ll browse those blog you wrote about (I’ve never popped in some of them) and update by blogroll to encourage my readers to explore them.

  9. bajekbe says:

    It would be handy, if You map the image above with html;)


  10. Well thanks Jamie!

    PES really is an outstanding blog – the boy has talent and in 20 years time you’ll be able to tell your teenaged kids that you knew the president of the IMF when he was a youthful blogger…

    Anyway – Grey Jumper is not about the ’50s but the ’60s, I have absolutely no memory of the former; and Flying Oko is a proto-blog, an early effort to learn how to do it. No new posts there for over two and half years.

    I’ve also moved my economics writing to the BPCC blog (www.bpcc.org.pl/blog)

  11. Scatts says:

    How nice to be part of a blogosphere!

    Problem with this is that it makes me browse the other blogs, like Polka on the Island, and realise just what a slouch I am when it comes to posting recently, especially here.

    I agree the links aren’t accurate as 20 east links to more than are shown but to do it properly would be a mess and take more time so I appreciate the effort made and it looks great!

    Oh, just noticed that some link to me and I don’t return the favour, like PES for example. I shall fix that right away.

    They can shove rule 5!

    “Shotgun-style”, nice. It is a mess and that’s another problem with reading other blogs where they manage to stay focussed on one thing or another, even if it is the fluff that forms between rail tracks in Warsaw suburbs! :-?

    Mind you, diversity is a wonderful thing. If you’ve seen any Fieldfares recently, 20 east is the place to report it. Actually, it’s gone pretty quiet the last few days so I think they’ve finally realised I’m not managing a twitcher’s bulletin board.

    I’m also in demand these days for translating menus from Polish to English.

    Anyway, long may the English Polish blog live and prosper. May all our camels be fertile!

    Can I just ask that anyone starting a new blog considers using anything other than ‘P’ for the first letter of the title.

  12. Bartek says:

    Michael, don’t we go too far now. I hope in twenty years we’ll all be still indulging in blogging, driven by passion and inspiration.

    If I were to vote for the best blog, I’d choose Flyingoko, those posts do stand out, maybe because they’re somewhere above your casual postings about weather, landscapes, photography, trains, etc. It’s a pity it has been discontinued.

    Frankly speaking I won’t commend your decision to move economic posts to BPCC. It’s a corporate blog, so is it as independent as W-wa Jeziorki? But if so, I’ll be visiting it and placing comments and don’t expect me to compromise…

  13. Bartek says:

    Scatts, like many of us, I revamped my blogroll yesterday, so your reaction was very swift.

  14. island1 says:

    It would, but I’m not very clever so it might take a while.

  15. island1 says:

    Apologies for adding a decade to your age, sloppy of me. I’ve corrected the text.

  16. island1 says:

    Ah I see, people were complaining about the inaccuracy of the links in the image. As you surmised, it would have been a mess if I’d tried to put them all in (I did draw them on a piece of paper while researching though), so the image is more impressionistic than precise.

  17. Bartek says:

    How have you corrected it, if it’s still 1950s, rather than 1960s?

  18. Hey, Bartek, give Jamie some breath. I think this post has been very important to everyone, boosted the community, strengthened the links, he-he, and generally have been written very kindly to everyone (thanks). Not sure if it was aimed at details.
    Congrats on your blog, BTW.

  19. Bartek says:

    I’ll give him a break, I promise. We have to be nice to one another, today it’s granny’s day, tomorrow grandpa’s, in the coming days temperature in Poland are forecast to hit minus twenty five, what puts poor Brits unused to such frosts to a test.

    Thx PolkaOnTheIsland, I;m sure if Jamie hadn’t been out that night, your blog would be listed as well!

  20. pinolona says:

    ooh crap, I haven’t updated my blogroll for ages. oops.

  21. yellerbelly says:

    An interesting point Jamie and almost accurate in its diagrammatic form. Thoughtfully compiled and a timely kick up many a blogger’s booty! A good lesson in reciprocation and much needed effort. I shall also update…

  22. Raf Uzar says:

    Wonderful to be mentioned in this.

  23. island1 says:

    ‘Tis nothing, yours is a good blog. But tell us Raf, why don’t you link to anybody?

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