About Papusza

Bronisława Wajs (1910-1987) was a Polska-Roma poet and singer. Born into a family of musicians, she was one of the first known Romani women to learn to read and write. Her handwritten poems were published with the help of Jerzy Ficowski.

As an advisor, Ficowski used her poems as evidence to make a case against nomadism. This led to the forced settlement of Polish Roma in 1950. Papusza was seen as a traitor by the Roma community, and she was deemed marime, or unclean, for her perceived collaboration with the gadje (non-roma). Her exile led to a nervous breakdown, and she lived in isolation, publishing only a few final poems in 1970. After years of (often malicious) misrepresentation of the Roma people, I hope to share her poetry (and perspective) through my own art.

The text in this comic is taken from Papusza’s work G***y Song Taken From Papusza’s HeadThe full text of this poem as well as more information about Papusza is available here.
I have chosen to replace g*psy in the text of her poem because it it largely considered a slur by Roma.