“My Polish Teacher’s Tie” by Helen Dunmore tells the story of Carla, a single mother and a part-time catering assistant in a British school. She is half-Polish, but she no longer speaks the language, although her mother had taught it to her when she was a child. One day, the headmaster of the school announces that some Polish teachers are interested in corresponding with British teachers and in coming to Britain for an exchange visit. Even though she is not a teacher, Carla decides to take one of the Polish teachers’ addresses and starts corresponding with him.

The teacher is named Stefan, but calls himself Steve in his letters. The two exchange letters once a week, then twice a week. They mostly talk about poetry, as Steve is also a poet. He sends Carla poems, both in English and Polish. H...

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