Petr Janyška is the head of the Czech Literary Centre, a recently created state agency that aims to promote the country’s writers internationally. Originally a translator, Janyška was one of the founders of the weekly Respekt before working for many years as a diplomat. Before getting on to his plans for the Czech Literary Centre, I asked him during a recent meeting about his own connection to books and writing.
Czech organist and jazz musician Ondřej Pivec features on this year’s Grammy Award-winning album Take Me to the Alley by Gregory Porter. The Czech musician, who currently works and resides in New York, has recorded five albums under his own name and appeared on more than thirty as an accompanist. He currently leads an r&b-jazz-pop band called Kennedy Administration and plays the organ in a gospel church choir in Brooklyn.
A major new exhibition by the Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei opens in Prague on Thursday evening. The show is centred around an enormous recreation of a lifeboat highlighting the plight of refugees – and Ai told reporters that Europe’s handling of the crisis raised major questions surrounding its values.
The management of Prague’s National Theatre this week symbolically launched planned renovation of the State Opera, located not far from Wenceslas Square. The project is set to cost 858 million crowns and will take more than two years, during which time the State Opera will put on productions at other venues. It is the first major renovation job on a large state-owned theatre since 1989.
Petra Dočekalová is a graduate of the Typography Studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. Her calligraphy thesis, in which she developed her own handwritten scripts, has recently won two prestigious international awards, including the certificate of Typographic Excellence 2017 from the Type Directors Club. I met with Petra Dočekalová in her studio, hidden in a backyard just a few steps from Prague’s Old Town Square, and I first asked her why she chose calligraphy as the topic of her thesis:
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.
Czech Radio has just launched Zhasni!, or Turn the Lights Out!, the station’s first dedicated podcast series. The move is aimed at boosting Czech listeners’ usage of podcasts, a delivery system particularly popular in the US via which subscribers automatically receive audio files – including, of course, radio shows – on their smartphones or other devices. To find out more about this drive I spoke to Edita Kudláčová and Robert Candra from Czech Radio’s Creative Hub group. My first question: What is Zhasni! and how did it come about?