Creative Arts Prize and Joseph W. Zurawski Prize


PAHA's Creative Arts Prize, established in 1999, "recognizes contributions in the field of creative arts by individuals or groups who have promoted an awareness of the Polish experience in the Americas."

2018: Ken Peplowski, Jazz Clarinetist

The 2018 Prize was presented to Ken Peplowski who, in the words of Russell Davies, is “arguably the greatest living jazz clarinetist.” Born to the Polish parents in Cleveland, Ken grew up to the tunes of Polish music. In a 2013 interview, Ken Peplowski said: “When you grow up in Cleveland, Ohio, playing in a Polish polka band, you learn to think fast on your feet.”

2017: Dr. Czeslaw Karkowski, Writer

Czeslaw Karkowski  philosopher, journalist, novelist and an academic, has been a prolific writer authoring novels, memoirs, collections of essays, and creative nonfiction. His long and distinguished career as a journalist began in the early 1980s in Berlin where he found himself with other political exiles of the Solidarity era, and was followed up by many years in the editorial offices  of the New York City's Polish language newspaper, Nowy Dziennik. His publications include contemporary interpretations of The Iliad by Homer, a historical novel entitled Drugi w Sztuce, as well as a novel of immigrant  experience Kamienna Drabina. This immigrant experience returns in his Dziennik Jednego Roku and Na Emigracji. Czeslaw Karkowski using his own emigrant/immigrant experiences provides a sensitive commentary on immigrant identity and the immigrant connection to the home country.

2016: Dr. Maja Trochimczyk

The Creative Arts Prize was presented to Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, for her achievements as a poet, especially her two books dedicated to Polish victims of WWII, Slicing the Bread (Finishing Line Press, 2014), and The Rainy Bread: Poems from Exile, (Moonrise Press, 2016). Her books of poetry include Rose Always - A Love Story, (2008, 4th ed. 2017); Miriam’s Iris or Angels in the Garden, 2008; Into Light: Poems and Incantations, 2016; and two anthologies,Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse, 2010, and Meditations on Divine Names, 2012. Trochimczyk also authored six books of music studies, most recently Gorecki in Context: Essays on Music (Moonrise Press, 2017), and including also books about Fryderyk Chopin, Polish romantic music, Polish folk dance in California, and more. Dr. Trochimczyk served as Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, Los Angeles in 2010-2012, and received many honors for her work, including the Polish government’s medal for the promotion of culture, a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, PAHA’s Distinguished Service Award (2014) and the Swastek Prize (2007).

Julian Stanczak, Floating Green, 1974-75, 28x28 

2014: Adrian Prawica

Mr. Prawica is the director and executive producer of the film The Fourth Partition: Chicago (2013) that tells a unique and rarely talked about history of Chicago’s Polish Community at the dawn of the 20th century.  It examines economic and political reasons for the migration of over 4,000,000 Poles to the United States between 1870 and 1920. Starting with the first Polish settlers in the Jamestown colony in 1608, this documentary focuses on Polish immigrant workers in heavily industrialized Chicago neighborhoods, their community, as well as their political activism, which aided Poland in her fight for independence during WWI.  The Fourth Partition: Chicago features interviews with some of the most known Polish-American historians in the United States [including PAHA’s James Pula, Don Pienkos and Dominic Pacyga]. The film shows rare images of Poles in the Unites States and their communities, which they built while working in some of the heaviest industries such as steel and meatpacking.  Most of all, it tells a history of one of the largest ethnic communities in Chicago, that is still ever present today”. Trailer of the documentary mayh be seen at: 

Julian Stanczak, Constant Return I, 1965, 39 x 39

2013: Julian Stańczak 

A Polish-born painter and printmaker is being recognized for his 70 years long devotion to art and education and his unique gift for painting and insight into visual perception.  He and his family - he was only 12 years old at the time - were all forcibly removed by the Soviet military to Central Asia following the Nazi-Soviet invasion and conquest of Poland in 1939. He escaped from Siberia, via Persia and Uganda reached England and then United States where he received a BA from the Cleveland Institute of Art, and completed MFA at Yale. He has achieved wide acclaim and success despite the fact that since his incarceration in the USSR he’s permanently lost the use of his right arm (he used to be right-handed). Julian Stańczak is recognized as one of the important pioneers in Op-Art. This term first appeared in print in Time magazine in October 1964 in response to Julian Stańczak's show Optical Paintings at the Martha Jackson gallery in New York. The year 2013-2014 has been announced “The Year of Stańczak Celebrations” by the Akron Museum of Art in Cleveland, the Museum of Art, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and the Kelvin Smith Library of Case Western Reserve University Lectures & Exhibitions.

Julian Stanczak, Constellation in Red, 2003, 36 panels

2012: Brigid Pasulka

Author of A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009).  Brigid Pasulka, the descendant of Polish immigrants, lives and works in Chicago. In the early 1990s, Pasulka spent a year in Kraków, Poland, learning the language and exploring Polish history and culture. While in Kraków, she witnessed the economic and social transformations, which Poland went through after the fall of Communism. A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True is Pasulka's first break-through novel, which brings the readers to the early 1990s Kraków, while at the same time recalling a love story as it unfolds in the small village in the Polish mountains in the times of World War II and the Stalinist period. A Long Long Time Ago is a winner of several national awards, including PEN Hemingway and a National Geographic Traveler Book of the Month.

Julian Stanczak, Somber Glow, 1978, 32x32

2011: John Guzlowski 

Professor Emeritus of Literature at Eastern Illinois University, and a noted poet. He has published the well‐received works Lightning and Ashes and Third Winter of War: Buchenwald. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared on Garrison Kellior’s Writers Almanac and in The Ontario Review, Chattahoochee Review, Modern Fiction Studies, Nimrod, Margie, Exquisite Corpse and other journals here and in Europe.   His poems about his Polish parents’ experiences in Nazi concentration camps appear in his books Lightning and Ashes and Third Winter of War: Buchenwald.  Third Winter was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. He blogs about his parents and their lives at  His work was also antologized in Chopin with CherriesMeditations on Divine Names, and and The Chopin House. Guzlowski has made major contributions to Polish‐ American culture by promoting the works of other Polish American poets and writers, He serves on the PAHA Board of Directors and edits the Poetry Corner for the semi-annual PAHA Newsletter. 

In his own words: I was born in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II, and came with my parents Jan and Tekla and my sister Donna to the United States as Displaced Persons in 1951. My Polish Catholic parents had been slave laborers in Nazi Germany. Growing up in the immigrant and DP neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, I met Jewish hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead horses, and women who walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians. My poems try to remember them and their voices. These poems have appeared in my chapbook Language of Mules and in both editions of Charles Fishman’s anthology of American poets on the Holocaust, Blood to Remember. Since retiring from teaching American Literature in 2005, I've written two new books about my parents. My poems about them appear in my books Lightning and Ashes (Steel Toe Books, 2007) and Third Winter of War: Buchenwald (Finishing Line Press).”

                                             Julian Stanczak, Intercepting, 1983, 60X60

2008: Anthony Bukoski 

Dr. Bukoski recently published North of Port (2008), a critically well received collection of twelve short stories that highlight the lives and legacies of ordinary Polish immigrants at mid-century. He is the author of four other story collections, including Children of Strangers (SMU, 1993), Polonaise (SMU, 1999), and Time Between Trains (SMU, 2003), which was a Booklist Editors' Choice. His stories have been featured on Wisconsin Public Radio, National Public Radio, and in live performance in the "Selected Shorts" series at Symphony Space in New York City. He teaches at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin in his hometown of Superior, where his Polish émigré grandparents settled early in the last century.

2007:  Linda Nemec Foster 

Ms. Foster is the author of seven poetry collections including Living in the Fire Nest (finalist for the Poet's Prize), Amber Necklace from Gdansk (finalist for the Ohio Book Award in Poetry), and Listen to the Landscape (short-listed for the 2007 Michigan Notable Book Award).  Her poems have appeared in over 250 literary magazines and journals including The Georgia ReviewNew American WritingNorth American ReviewNimrod, and the International Poetry Review. Ms. Foster's work has also been included in various anthologies, translated in Poland, exhibited in museums and galleries, and produced for the stage.  She has received awards for her work from the Arts Foundation of Michigan, Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, the National Writer's Voice of New York City, and the Academy of American Poets.

2006: Ann Hetzel-Gunkel 

Dr. Gunkel is Professor of Humanities and Cultural Studies at Columbia College, Chicago. A specialist in urban cultural studies, she is widely regarded as the leading scholar of polka in the United States. A previous recipient of the PAHA Swastek Prize, Dr. Gunkel is honored with the Creative Arts Prize in recognition of her body of scholarly work focusing on Polish American culture.

2005: Marek Czarnecki  

Mr. Czarnecki is an iconographer, the director of Seraphic Restorations in Meriden, Connecticut. The son of Polish immigrants, he enjoys a national reputation, and is held in particularly high esteem in New England, where he has painted and restored many icons for local Polish churches. He also has written on the subject of sacramental art in Catholic churches in the United States.

2004: Keith Mallard 

Mr. Mallard’s work, The Clarinet Polka (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2003) was discussed enthusiastically in several presentations at the January 2004 PAHA Annual Meeting. The buzz continued into the June 2004 Conference, "One Hundred and Fifty Years of Polonia in North America" in New Britain, CT. The repeated refrain was, “he got it right.” The protagonist of the Clarinet Polka, Jimmy Dobrowski, returns from military duty, to a fictional West Virginia steel town in 1969. Avoiding sentimental and patronizing portrayals of working-class ethnicity, Maillard shows Jimmy emerging from an alienated, numb state by connecting to a homegrown, and vital local polka culture. This book reminds us that while working-class baby boomers struggled, as their middle-class cohorts did, with political cynicism and alienation in the 1970s, some found meaning in a different place: celebrating and re-inventing an ethnic heritage they had initially scorned.

2003: Anthony Bukoski

Author of Time Between Trains (Southern Methodist University Press). The 13 stories in Time Between Trains represent Dr. Bukoski's fourth collection of short stories set in his hometown of Superior, Wisconsin. The stories have been described by reviewers as “beautifully written” and successfully “portraying the overwhelming smallness of his world.” Suzanne Strempek Shea writes these stories are “a stark,honest, and poignant time capsule of a Lake Superior Polish enclave” and Leslie Pietrzyk notes that the stories represent a “beautifully rendered community of proud people.” Excerpts from Time Between Trains have been read on Wisconsin Public Radio and National Public Radio. In addition, Booklist, the magazine of the AmericanLibrary Association, designated Time Between Trains as one of the best books in 2003. Tony's work introduces non-Polonians to Polonia, and allows Polish Americans the pleasure of reading about their everyday lives in American literature.

2002: Lucyna Migala 

Founder and director of the Lira Singers, Chicago. The Lira Singers have performed nationally and internationally and everywhere brought honor and recognition to the Polish and Polish American cultural heritage.

2000: Suzanne Strempek Shea 

Author of series of very well-received novels that deal with Polish American life and experience.

1999: Ada Dziewanowska 

Author of Polish Folk Dances and Songs: A Step by Step Guide (New York: Hippocrene Books, 1997).

Julian Stanczak, Accumulative, 1975, 30x30


The Polish American Historical Association is pleased to announce creation of the Joseph W. Zurawski Prize. Consisting of a $500 award and a plaque, the  prize will be awarded for the best article or book published  on the topic of Polish American screen images in films or  television presented to audiences in the  United States  and released by American companies. To be eligible, works  must have been published within the past three years. Nominations should be sent to the Awards Committee, Polish  American Historical Association, Chair, Dr. Marta Cieslak, at Although there is no deadline, for the fullest  annual consideration nominations should be made by June 1  each year. Awards will be presented at the awards ceremony  during the annual PAHA conference in January.

Joseph W. Zurawski has remained active in the Polish American community since writing his graduate thesis on Poland in 1960. He reviewed books on the Polish American community for several newspapers, was editor for Narod Polski, president of the Polish Museum of America, member of the Boards of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America and the Polish Museum of America, and taught Polish American history and culture at Wright and Triton Colleges. He was an archivist of historical records for Saint Mary of Nazareth Hospital (known as "The Polish Hospital”), wrote several books including Polish American History and Culture: An Annotated Bibliography and, most recently, The Polish Presence in American Screen Images. Among the awards he received are: Outstanding Young Man of America, Chamber of Commerce (1963); Distinguished Service Certificate, Copernicus Quincentennial Commission (1973); the American Catholic Who’s Who (1976), Kosciuszko Medal, Kosciuszko Foundation (1977); Civic Achievement Award, Polish American Historical  Association (2002); “Wybitny Polak” (Outstanding Pole, culture category), Foundation of Polish Promotion, Chicago presentation a Chicago’s Polish Consulate, Warsaw culmination at Grand Theater and Polish National Opera (2017). He has been a proud member of the Polish American Historical Association for over 50 years.

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