Czech poet and translator Petr Král, who also writes in French, was among
64 people honoured by the French Academy on Thursday for their
contributions in the cultural field.
The jury awarded Král, now 77, Le Grand Prix de la Francophonie not only for his book Critical Articles and Essays of Vlastizrady, but also for his entire body of work, including as an émigré.
As a translator and publisher, he has striven to bring Czech poetry to French readers, including the poems of Nobel Prize-winner Jaroslav Seifert. He also translated many French avant-garde writers, including André Breton, into Czech.
Král left Czechoslovakia for France after the Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968 and returned to his homeland in 2006. Three years ago he received the Czech State Prize for Literature.
A free global network for poets and poetry lovers, developed in the Czech Republic, has recently been launched in the United States. Called Poetizer, it allows its users to publish and share their poems and aims to serve as an alternative to the existing social platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. The site was originally founded in 2017 as a mobile app and currently covers some 120 countries with over 65,000 poems written by its users.
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 two weeks from November 12 the Czech Republic will be indulging in a feast of poetry with the 19th annual “Den poezie” poetry festival. It will include a wide variety of events, nearly two hundred in total, in sixty towns and villages across the country, and even if you do not speak Czech, you will not be left empty-handed. David Vaughan talks to the festival’s co-founder and co-organiser, Bernie Higgins.
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.