Jan Krzysztof Kelus
Jan Krzysztof Kelus, (born in 1942) has been nicknamed the Bard of the opposition, and Polish Woody Guthrie, and is known merely by his
initials JKK. He is famous for his numerous socio-political ballads. Kelus was a professional sociologist, singer, poet, composer as well as a
member of the democratic opposition in Poland between the 60s and 80s.
Kelus attended Warsaw University, and graduated with a degree in sociology, having switched over from the faculty of law. In March 1968 he
became involved in various groups which were committed to democratic opposition to the Communist regime in Poland. A year later he was
arrested for smuggling books into Poland, published in Paris by Jerzy Giedroyc's Kultura. He was sentenced to be jailed as a result of the Tatra
Climbers Trial ( so named because he tried to smuggle the books through the Tatra Mountains).
JKK was released from prison after the advent of Edward Gierek's rule and became one of the founders of the Workers Defence Committee.
(Gierek was the First Secretary of the Polish United Worker's Party in December 1970). Around that time, Kelus' songs became the symbol of
peaceful opposition. Bootleg copies of it were distributed widely and without submission to Soviet censorship. He also translated several songs by
Czech composer, Karel Kryl.
In the 1970s, Kelus was dismissed from his job at the Gynaecological Institute of the Medical University of Warsaw, because of his political activity.
Nevertheless his opposition did not waver and he continued to promote anti-communism.
In the early 1980s he was among a group of founders of the Niezależna Oficyna Wydawnicza CDN, which was at that time the largest underground
printing house in Poland. In 1981 he was arrested again after Martial Law was imposed, and was interned along with several leaders of the
Solidarity at Bialolka in northern Poland. During his internment, his songs were being performed by numerous artists, among them Jacek
Kaczmarski and Antonina Krzysztoń.
With the transition of power in Poland in 1989, Kelus retired from public life and settled in a remote house on a small bee-keeping farm near
Bialowieza. It was only after 1989 that most of his songs were officially issued for the first time.