After 1989 the situation in Czech poetry paradoxically became more chaotic - and not only in the new poetry coming out after 1989, that is over roughly the past quarter of a century.
It might seem that the three forms of literature which operated in Czech or Czechoslovak culture from 1948-1989, a period when the culture and society were dominated by the ruling ideology of the Communist Party – official, unofficial (underground or samizdat) and exile literature – all merged into one stream, that with the fall of communism in November 1989 and the arrival of freedom a real normalisation of conditions finally came about. However, a new player appeared on the scene, and one who with hindsight was to be even more dangerous. Whilst the power of the Communists was transparent and recognisable and could therefore be effectively opposed, the power of the market and liberal capitalism, which over the past twenty years has directed the development of Czech society and its culture, is opaque, hidden and diffuse. As part of its ethos, culture is nothing more than an economic item or product which has to be sold in order to justify its existence. And today artistic or aesthetic values are no longer marketable - only that which is easily visible and can therefore be properly advertised. So, from which angle should we look at new Czech poetry after 1989?
There are a minimum of four angles or criteria for selecting specific names and individual poetry collections. Firstly: literary prizes. Secondly: anthologies plus themed collections. Thirdly: media interest. Fourthly: translations.
Unfortunately, in the Czech Republic there is no literary prize which would serve to annually reward a particular author’s achievements and consequently highlight the author’s distinct poetics in the genre of poetry. Meanwhile in the West such prizes are the norm, for example the Great Poetry Prize (conferred by the French Academy), the Pulitzer Prize for poetry (USA) or the Dresden Poetry Prize (Germany), which was won last year by Marie Šťastná (1981), who had earlier been awarded the Jiří Orten Prize (2004).
Marie Šťastná. She has published four books of poetry, the most recent being Interiéry (2010). In her poetry she demonstrates the outer and inner strength of so-called female writing using an unpretentious fragility linked to the themes of family and traditional relationships. firstname.lastname@example.org
Amongst Czech literary awards, the Jiří Orten Prize (awarded since 1987) has a specific function: it is aimed at authors under thirty and therefore serves as a signpost for new Czech prose and poetry. Twelve poets have won the prize. Retrospectively they are Jan Těsnohlídek jr. (the winner from 2010), Jonáš Hájek (2007), Marek Šindelka (2006), Radek Malý (2003), Martin Langer (2002), Věra Rosí (2000), Bogdan Trojak (1998), Božena Správcová (1996), Petr Borkovec (1995), Jaromír Typlt (1994) and Jaroslav Pížl (1992). In the history of this prize the greatest stir was caused by the multi-talented Radek Malý (1977), who is active not only in poetry but also as a German translator, author of children’s books, radio plays, teaching handbooks and a study looking at the influence of Georg Trakel’s works on Czech poetry in the 20th century.
Jaromír Typlt (1973). An author of poetry and prose from the avant-garde tradition, particularly surrealist and literary experiments. He debuted in 1990 with his poetry collection Koncerto Grosso and most recently published the collection Stisk (2007), the eighth title in succession. www.typlt.cz
Petr Borkovec (1970). He has written nine books of poetry and prose, the latest being Vnitrozemí (2005) and Berlínský sešit/Zápisky ze Saint-Nazaire (2008). He is “an author of reflective poetry influenced by the Christian tradition but also with a sense for the distinctiveness of language. The fundamental constant for him is an awareness of oneness with the world and the people around him. At its core his poetry remains unchanged,but only becomes more precise and mature.” (Petr A. Bílek). email@example.com
Bogdan Trojak. He is the author of five poetry collections (the latest being Kumštkabinet, 2005) and the poetical prose Brněnské metro (2007). His work, which sparkles in form, flows from family memory and the myths of the Moravian-Silesian countryside. firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2006 Radek Malý won another prize which is extremely significant within the context of modern Czech culture: Magnesia Litera. Since 2002, with some exceptions such as Malý and Bogdan Trojak (1975), who won in 2005, the Litera has awarded prizes in the poetry category to poets from the middle and older generations, well-known authors whose works have been systematically developed over several decades: Jiří Gruš (2002), Vít Slíva (2003), Karel Šiktanec (2004), Stanislav Dvorský (2007), Taš Andjelkovský (2008), Bohumila Grögerová (2009), Viola Fischerová, who died last year, (2010) and Josef Hrubý (2011). Unlike the less assertive Jiří Orten Prize, the Magnesia has pushed its way into the media spotlight: the announcement of the individual categories takes place every year on prime TV and the winners are subsequently referred to both in specialised periodicals and national daily and weekly newspapers. This has its positive effects, as has been noted above: if something gains media attention it is visible and therefore sells significantly better. This can be seen in the example of Bohumila Grögerová’s poetry collection Rukopis: after winning the previous year’s competition the number of sales of this book increased tenfold – to some twelve hundred copies.
Radek Malý. In his poetry can be found the poetics of expressionism combined with a Morgenstern-like playful linguistic absurdity. His gesture is defiance, underlined on the one hand by (self-) irony and on the other by a virtuoso handling of bound verse. He has written four books of poetry: Lunovis (2001), Vraní zpěvy (2002), Větrní (2005) and Malá tma (2008). email@example.com
Like the Magnesia Litera, the State Prize for Literature, which in its current form has been organised by the Ministry of Culture since 1995, and the Jaroslav Seifert Prize (with a tradition going back to 1986) give priority to the older generation of writers and to lifetime achievements – they therefore recognise those writers who were banned from publishing under the previous regime (the poets include Zbyněk Hejda, Ivan M. Jirous, František Listopad, Zdeněk Rotrekl, Pavel Šrut, Miloslav Topinka and Ivan Wernisch).
Anthologies and readers
In the Czech Republic after 2000 several anthologies were published which aimed – with various shifts of emphasis – to look at Czech poetry over the past decades. The most ambitious of these was the several-hundred-page-long “anthology of Czech poetry of the XX century in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia” entitled Ryby katedrál (2002), which was compiled by Petr Stančík; according to him it is “the first anthology which contains Czech poetry from the last century in its entirety. In it you can find 100 authors who were instrumental in carrying the torch of our poetry […].”
The subsequent work Pegasovo poučení (2002), edited by Petr A. Bílek, Miroslav Huptych, Jan Macháček and Vladimír Pistorie, has the subtitle “an anthology of Czech poetry 1945–2000” and surveys the territory not from the point of view of individual authors but in thematic blocks. “For us it wasn’t about individual poets or about remembering particular milestones in one period or another that seemed to contemporaries to be important,” said the editors. “However, we tried to outline […] the basic themes and motifs as well as the significant poetics which formed Czech poetry in this time […].”
In their Anthology of New Czech Literature 1995-2004 (2004) Radim Kopáč and Karolína Jirkalová alphabetically ordered excerpts from 60 new Czech writers and poets within a restricted time period. Their aim was to give readers an idea of the postmodern character of new Czech writing, of its variety in expressive, thematic and generational as well as aesthetic terms, as revealed through excerpts from the poetry of Miloš Doležal (1970), Jiří Dynka (1959), Radek Fridrich (1968), Petr Hruška (1964), Vít Janota (1970), Milan Ohnisko (1965), Tereza Riedlbauchová (1977), Kateřina Rudčenková (1976), Martin Stöher (1970) and Mnoháček Zgublačenko (1969). 
Miloš Doležal. He has published six books of poetry (the latest being Sansepolcro, 2004), in which he shows that “he is not a nostalgic lyric poet but a being in search of the lost community of humankind, the proximity of life in a village, and the union of souls and Man with Nature” (Jan Suk). firstname.lastname@example.org
Jiří Dynka. He is a poet with a widely expressive palette: experimental new-speak mingles with an awe of tradition, pop culture is balanced with references to the classics. His theme is eroticised love, the animal body inspired by the metaphysical dimension. He has published six books of poetry, the latest of which is called Naučná stezka Olšanské hřbitovy (2010). email@example.com
Radek Fridrich. Author of nine books of poetry and shorter prose. In his works, which emerge from the tradition of expressionism and civilism, he is a chronicler of North Bohemia through the poetic memory of local Czech-German loves and hatreds across the centuries. His latest works are Šrakakel / Der Schreckliche (2005), Žibřid (2006) and Modroret (2008). firstname.lastname@example.org
Vít Janota. A romantic of the post-socialist housing estate, a follower of movements in the dark side of the city. He is the author of three collections of poetry (K ránu proti nebi, 2002; Fasování košťat, 2004; Miniová pole, 2008) and two poetic compositions: Praha zničená deštěm (2006), Jen třídit odpad nestačí (2011). email@example.com
Tereza Riedlbauchová. She has written three books of poetry (Modrá jablka, 2000; Velká biskupovská noc, 2005; Don Vítor si hraje a jiné básně, 2009) and the poem Podoba panny pláč (2002). On the one hand her poetry, carried along by surreal imagery, consists of an elemental eroticism and harmonic sensuality, while on the other there are tones of anxiety and loneliness. firstname.lastname@example.org
Kateřina Rudčenková writes poetry, prose and drama. She has published three collections of poetry: Ludwig (1999), Není nutné, abyste mě navštěvoval (2001) and Popel a slast (2004). In her work she explores the possibilities of dialogue with another and with oneself, just as she presents the raw message that love is the only, albeit usually cruelly deceitful, human refuge in this world. email@example.com
Czech poetry from 1966-2006 has been exhaustively examined in a two-part publication Antologie české poezie (2007, 2009), a 1,200-page anthology in which a collective of editors (headed by Jan Šulc and Jakub Šofar) introduced 350 poets from the classics to unknown writers’ publications found on the internet. According to the critic Jan Nejedlý this book is “an attempt at an ecumenical resume, a stimulus for discussion, a document of one chapter”.
In the given context the description of attempts, stimuli and documents could also be applied to the following: the project Lepě švihlí tlové (an anthology compiled in 2002 by Ivan Wernisch as an overview of the poetry brought out by the Brno publishers Petrov), the “anthology of texts by Czech songwriters” Den bude dlouhý (editors Jan Šulc and Jaroslav Riedel, 2004), and perhaps the project Nejlepší české básně (The Best Czech Poetry), which was launched by the publishers Host in 2009 with reference to the tradition and success of a similar project that has been running in the States since 1988. 
When considering the reception of Czech poetry in the print media, which in comparison with radio and television gives it its largest platform, this rule of proportion holds good: the closer a newspaper or magazine is to the mainstream, i.e. the more conformist its approach is (and with that the higher its sales), the less space is given to themes which are peripheral, alternative or nonconformist, which includes poetic output. In the national dailies such as MF Dnes, Lidové noviny, Právo or Hospodářské noviny, Czech poetry is referred to (in interviews, commentaries or reviews) almost exclusively in the above mentioned contexts – primarily in connection with literary prizes or with the death or important anniversary of an author. In general, renowned or “deserving” authors have a better chance of being mentioned, as do books which aim to summarise, such as collected works, anthologies or readers.
Relevant information (in the form of reviews, studies, essays or literary debates) is provided by Host, the “monthly magazine for literature and readers” – whose editor-in-chief Miroslav Balaštík is also the author of the book Postgenerace (2010), a study of the “retreat and battlefield of poetry in the 1990s”  – as well as by fortnightly magazines (Tvar) and quarterlies (Psí víno, Revolver Revue, RozRazil, Souvislosti, Weles, etc.). Their scope is limited by the print run (generally somewhere around 500 to a maximum of 1,500 – 2,000 copies) as well as by the restricted distribution network: among potential readers there are far more subscriptions to the above-mentioned dailies.
Translations into foreign languages also tell us something about Czech poetry since 1989. As was shown in Czech Literature in Translation (1998–2010) (2010), a publication which summarises the foreign adaptations of Czech writers’ books which were sponsored by the Ministry of Culture during that period, the new (and relatively new) names in Czech poetry who have enjoyed this support include Petr Borkovec (German), Miloš Doležal (Polish), Zbyněk Hejda (French), Ivan M. Jirous (Russian), Lubor Kasal (Slovenian), Pavel Řezníček (Romanian) and Ivan Wernisch (English).  Dalibor Dobiáš compiled “an anthology of recent Czech poetry” for the Polish market, Gdyby wiersze miały drzwi (2005), which included poetic texts by Bohdan Chlíbec, Pavel Kolmačka, Vít Kremlička, Jiří H. Krchovský, Peter Motýl, Pavel Petr, Tomáš Přidal, Božena Správcová and Jáchym Topol. Similar anthologies have been published elsewhere, in Russia Iz věka v věk: Češskaja poezija (2005; editors Sergej Glovjuk and Dalibor Dobiáš) and in France Anthologie de la poésie tchèque contemporaine 1945–2000 (2002; editor Petr Král). 
Jiří H. Krchovský. He came to attention in 1998 with his collection Básně. His more recent work is represented in the books Poslední list (2003), Nad jedním světem (2004) and Dvojité dno (2010). He writes on a new-decadent note with a virtuoso command of verse. He has chosen love and death as his themes, which he presents in expressively stylised scenes. Self-deification is confronted with feelings of unease and futility, and fear of nothingness is carried away by a current of black humour and absurdity. firstname.lastname@example.org
Of course two caveats should be added to this enumeration. Firstly, not every author knows how to get translated, and if the author lacks assertiveness or a capable agent then – like Svatava Antošová, František Dryje, Roman Erben, Jiří Gold, Jaroslav Chobot, Miloš Vodička etc.  – he may remain neglected, despite the undoubted strength and originality of his poetic vision. Secondly, not every author can be translated, as can be seen in the case of Jiří H. Krchovský (1960). Although he is one of the greatest names in Czech poetry over the past fifty years, his formal refinement means that translations into foreign languages are significantly more complicated (as can be seen by the laborious translation of his verses into Polish, published in the above-mentioned Dobiáš anthology).
Petr Hruška. Poetry must “excite, astonish, surprise, unsettle, destroy existing aesthetic norms and create new ones”, says the urbane metaphysical poet, a sensitive observer of existential dilemmas. In 2004 he brought out a collection of his works to date, Zelený svetr, and his latest works are collected under the title Auta vjíždějí do lodí (2007). email@example.com
 The Jan Skácel Prize, awarded at irregular intervals since 2001 by the Brno section of the Obec spisovatelů (Community of Writers), is limited both by region and by its remit (the prize is awarded for “important Czech works of poetry which follow in the best traditions and spirit of Moravian poetry”): on the last occasion (2009) it was won by Petr Hruška for his collection Auta vjíždějí do lodí.
 Mnoháček Zgublačenko, real name Pavel Hlušička, is mentioned for one other reason: he belongs among those authors who joins his texts to music – as with Petr Nikl, Jaromír Typlt, the Vítrholc group and Petr Váša, author of so-called physical poetry, where the body is used as a musical instrument. The phenomenon of slam poetry, which appeared on the Czech scene more than ten years ago, shares a similar basis.
 For further reading see the following: Báseň mého srdce (2005), Jezdec na delfíně (an anthology of Czech erotic literature from 1990–2005, 2005), Letenka do noci (an anthology of contemporary surrealist poetry, 2003) and S tebou sám (an anthology of love poetry, 2005).
 For further reading see, e.g., Karel Piorecký’s study Česká poezie v postmoderní situaci (2011) and the collective work V souřadnicích volnosti (2008), examining Czech literature from the 1990s with profiles of roughly 80 poetry, prose and drama works.
 Some of the classic writers published abroad include Konstantin Biebl, Vladimír Holan, Miroslav Holub, Vítězslav Nezval, Jaroslav Seifert, Jan Skácel and Jan Zahradníček.
 The second book was published without Ministry support.
 To these names can be added those of poets who have been in exile for a long period and who are not well known to the Czech reader, nor even to local literary history: Karel Zlín, Ivan Schneedorfer, Milan Nápravník, Inka Machulková, Tomáš Frýbert, Vladimíra Čerepková and others.