Josef Straka is an heir to the rich tradition of the poet as a wanderer through the city. In Paris they have the “flâneur”, but in Prague it is the “chodec”, the walker, who captures the poetry of the everyday and the ordinary. Josef’s poetic journeys have taken him far beyond the edges of the city and even this country itself, as we find out in his conversation with David Vaughan for this week’s Czech Books.
For the Irish poet Michael O’Loughlin, Europe is not just a place on the map. The Europe of his poetry is a labyrinth of ideas, memories and languages. Its borders are permeable and shifting. We sense it is there, yet it remains stubbornly elusive. Michael is in Prague as part of the UNESCO City of Literature programme, and has been reflecting on the city’s place in Europe, as well as his own European identity. He spoke with David Vaughan.
As part of its Modern Czech Classics series, the Karolinum Press has just published a collection of poems by Bohuslav Reynek in English translation. The poet died in 1971 at the age of 79, having spent nearly all his life in the depths of the Czech countryside, but it is only in recent years that he has been rediscovered by a wider readership. For decades, he was derided or at best ignored by the communist regime, not least because of the deeply spiritual quality of his work. Today Reynek is acclaimed not just for his poetry, but also as a visual
If you enjoy poetry and will be in Prague on June 25, the (A)VOID Floating Gallery on the embankment at Náplavka will be hosting an event that you shouldn’t miss. 7 p.m. sees the launch of a fascinating anthology of poems inspired by the River Vltava. The anthology is fully bilingual in Czech and English, and it gives us a flavour of the Vltava that is refreshingly different from the river of the tourist brochures. The event will also be an opportunity to meet some of this country’s best poets and translators. David Vaughan went on board to meet
How do you write poetry in the age of the tweet? Tomáš Míka has an answer. His latest collection is called Text Messages: it doesn’t quite go so far as to reduce everything to 140 characters, but the book does have its roots in the disembodied fragments of language that today form so much of our electronic communication. Tomáš talks to David Vaughan.
In a Europe of growing nationalism, Marie Iljašenko is a young Czech poet who defies categorization. She was born in Kiev into a family with both Ukrainian and Polish roots, but has lived in the Czech Republic since she was nine. Her poetry is in Czech, but her writing is filled with the rich influences of the languages, experiences and cultures that form part of her identity. In Czech Books, Marie Iljašenko talks to David Vaughan about the bonds between her life and work.
Bronislava Volková is a woman of many talents. She has had numerous collections of her poetry published and translated into no less than eleven languages, at the same time as writing widely on linguistics and semiotics and teaching at a number of American universities. She has translated many Czech poets into English and for nearly three decades she was director of Czech Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington. She is also an artist, working in particular with collage. In Czech Books this week David Vaughan meets a Czech Renaissance woman.
When the translator Ewald Osers died five years ago, it marked the end of an era. This year would have been his hundredth birthday, so with a bit of quick mathematics we can work out that he was already a young adult when the Second World War brought an end to the multi-lingual and uneasily cosmopolitan Prague in which he had grown up. From 1938 until his death, Osers lived in England, where he translated much of the best twentieth century Czech prose and poetry into English. Remarkably, he was translating from his second to his third language,
In recent years the annual Prague Writers’ Festival has done much to promote writing from North Africa and the Middle East in the Czech Republic. This year was no exception, with the award-winning Algerian novelist Kamel Daoud and the Egyptian poet Mohamed Metwalli prominent among the writers taking part. David Vaughan caught up with Mohamed Metwalli to talk about his poetry, the complexities of writing in Egypt today and the pleasures of Prague beer.