Ivan Wernisch

Ivan Wernisch

Poet, author of prose poems, translator, journalist. As an editor he has compiled a number of anthologies. Winner of the Jaroslav Seifert Prize (1992), the State Prize for Literature (2012) and the Magnesia Litera (2013). His work has been published in many languages including English, French and Polish. He himself translates from German, French, Italian, Flemish, Russian and Latin. He was born on 18 June 1942.


Title Publisher Year Selected published translations Awards
Pernambuco Druhé město 2018
Plop! The Lebott’s Korc Unscrooed, He Upguzzeled Liqueur (Plop! Vyvrtil Žlahvout pšunt i chlpal liquére) Meander 2015  2016 Golden Ribbon Award – Art section: Books for older children and youth
What Ass? (Jakápak prdel) Druhé město 2015
With a Shotgun Under this Coat (S brokovnicí pod kabátem) Druhé město 2014
The Best Czech Poetry (Nejlepší české básně 2013) Host 2013
I was Alive! (Živ jsem byl!) Druhé město 2012  2013 Magnesia Litera – Publishing achievement
It´s Easy to Walk the Tightrope (Chodit po provaze je snadné) Meander 2011  2011 The Most Beautiful Czech Book – Literature for children and youth: 1st place
Nowhere (Nikam) Druhé město 2010
The Story of Raindrops (Příběh dešťové kapky) Gema Art 2010
Chimney Boats (Kominické lodě) Druhé město 2009
Once Upon a Time There was One World (Byl jednou jeden svět) Torst 2008
Quodlibet (Quodlibet (editor)) Druhé město 2008
Whoever Reads this is a Pig (Kdo to čte, je prase (editor)) Paseka 2008
Býkárna (Býkárna) Druhé město 2007
Song About a Nose (Píseň o nosu (editor)) Petrov 2005
Head on the Table (Hlava na stole) Edice současné české poezie a Petrov 2005 DE
The Sweet Smell of Pink Roses (Virtuos on its Arse) (Růžovejch květů sladká vůně (Virtuos na prdel)) Petrov 2003
We are going to Mů (Půjdeme do Mů) Mladá fronta 2002
Idiotic Poetry (Blbecká poezie) Petrov 2002
And the Slithy Toves (editor) (Lepě svihlí tlové (editor)) Petrov 2002
I Don´t Stand By Love (Lásku já nestojím) BB Art 2001
It´s so Easy to Jump Around the Trees Without a Suitcase or Nún (Bez kufru se tak pěkně skáče po stromech neboli Nún) Petrov 2001
From this Year´s End of the World (pseudonym Václav Rozehnal) (Z letošního konce světa (pseudonym Václav Rozehnal)) Triáda 2000
The Sun Set on a Day Which Never Was (editor) (Zapadlo slunce za dnem, který nebyl (editor)) Petrov 2000
Journey to Ashkhabad or Pumpke and the Dalai Lamas (Cesta do Ašchabadu neboli Pumpke a dalajlámové) Petrov 1997
Just Because (Jen tak) Aulos 1996
Rumour Has It (Proslýchá se) Petrov 1996
The Gold-Blue End of an Old Man´s Summer (Zlatomodrý konec stařičkého léta) Český spisovatel 1994
The Baker´s Night Hamper (Pekařova noční nůše) Petrov 1994
The Latin Scholar´s Den (Doupě latinářů) Petrov 1992
Pawn Shop (Frc) Československý spisovatel 1991  1992 Jaroslav Seifert Prize
No Way (Ó kdežpak) Práce 1991
Yesterday (Včerejší den) Mladá fronta 1989
He Lived, He was Not (Žil, nebyl) Poezie mimo domov 1988
Inserted Gardens (Zasuté zahrady) Rozmluvy 1984
Puppets (Loutky) Československý spisovatel 1970
Hollow Bank (Dutý břeh) Mladá fronta 1967
Winter Palace (Zimohrádek) Československý spisovatel 1965
Enjoyment (Těšení) Mladá fronta 1963
Where the Sky Flies To (Kam letí nebe) Mladá fronta 1961
Plop! The Lebott’s Korc Unscrooed, He Upguzzeled Liqueur
Plop! Vyvrtil Žlahvout pšunt i chlpal liquére
Jakápak prdel
What Ass?
Jakápak prdel
With a Shotgun Under this Coat
S brokovnicí pod kabátem
The Best Czech Poetry
Nejlepší české básně 2013
Živ jsem byl!
I was Alive!
Živ jsem byl!
It´s Easy to Walk the Tightrope
Chodit po provaze je snadné
Nowhere
Nikam
Příběh dešťové kapky
The Story of Raindrops
Příběh dešťové kapky
Kominické lodě
Chimney Boats
Kominické lodě
Byl jednou jeden svět
Once Upon a Time There was One World
Byl jednou jeden svět
Quodlibet (editor)
Quodlibet
Quodlibet (editor)
Kdo to čte, je prase (editor)
Whoever Reads this is a Pig
Kdo to čte, je prase (editor)
Býkárna
Býkárna
Býkárna
Píseň o nosu (editor)
Song About a Nose
Píseň o nosu (editor)
Hlava na stole
Head on the Table
Hlava na stole
Růžovejch květů sladká vůně (Virtuos na prdel)
The Sweet Smell of Pink Roses (Virtuos on its Arse)
Růžovejch květů sladká vůně (Virtuos na prdel)
Půjdeme do Mů
We are going to Mů
Půjdeme do Mů
Blbecká poezie
Idiotic Poetry
Blbecká poezie
Lepě svihlí tlové (editor)
And the Slithy Toves (editor)
Lepě svihlí tlové (editor)
Lásku já nestojím
I Don´t Stand By Love
Lásku já nestojím
Bez kufru se tak pěkně skáče po stromech neboli Nún
It´s so Easy to Jump Around the Trees Without a Suitcase or Nún
Bez kufru se tak pěkně skáče po stromech neboli Nún
Z letošního konce světa (pseudonym Václav Rozehnal)
From this Year´s End of the World (pseudonym Václav Rozehnal)
Z letošního konce světa (pseudonym Václav Rozehnal)
Zapadlo slunce za dnem, který nebyl (editor)
The Sun Set on a Day Which Never Was (editor)
Zapadlo slunce za dnem, který nebyl (editor)
Cesta do Ašchabadu neboli Pumpke a dalajlámové
Journey to Ashkhabad or Pumpke and the Dalai Lamas
Cesta do Ašchabadu neboli Pumpke a dalajlámové
Jen tak
Just Because
Jen tak
Proslýchá se
Rumour Has It
Proslýchá se
Zlatomodrý konec stařičkého léta
The Gold-Blue End of an Old Man´s Summer
Zlatomodrý konec stařičkého léta
Pekařova noční nůše
The Baker´s Night Hamper
Pekařova noční nůše
Doupě latinářů
The Latin Scholar´s Den
Doupě latinářů
Frc
Pawn Shop
Frc
Ó kdežpak
No Way
Ó kdežpak
Včerejší den
Yesterday
Včerejší den
Žil, nebyl
He Lived, He was Not
Žil, nebyl
Zasuté zahrady
Inserted Gardens
Zasuté zahrady
Loutky
Puppets
Loutky
Dutý břeh
Hollow Bank
Dutý břeh
Zimohrádek
Winter Palace
Zimohrádek
Těšení
Enjoyment
Těšení
Kam letí nebe
Where the Sky Flies To
Kam letí nebe
Award Year Country
Golden Ribbon Award – Art section: Books for older children and youth 2016 Česká republika
Magnesia Litera – Publishing achievement 2013 Česká republika
State Award for Literature 2012 Česká republika
The Most Beautiful Czech Book – Literature for children and youth: 1st place 2011 Česká republika
Jaroslav Seifert Prize 1992 Česká republika
Praise
What characterizes the poetry of Ivan Wernisch most aptly is perhaps its unreliability. The author dons all sorts of masks – playful, wistful, deceptive, earthy, deferential, derisive. However, this unreliability is also connected with uncertainty and a lack of culmination, thanks to which the collection is open, attracts repeat reading and awakens a desire to let oneself be carried up once again to the heights of Wernisch’s poems and jump, even in the knowledge that someone might maliciously cut the cord of one’s parachute again.
—Markéta Kittlová
iLiteratura

Over the course of his career he has written thousands of texts, and it is not easy to get a handle on his work, although the search for possible ways into it is satisfying and even adventurous. The author does not make it easy for his readers – Wernisch sometimes deliberately fudges the origin or authorship of individual works. His most famous hoaxes include the creation of Václav Rozehnal, under whose name an entire collection of his was published, and who was also listed as a poet in the Dictionary of Banned Writers.

Under the totalitarian regime he had a series of manual jobs, and during Normalization he published only in samizdat form. He began publishing in magazines in the late fifties, and in book form in the early sixties with the collection Kam letí nebe (Where the Sky Flies To, Mladá fronta, 1961), followed by Těšení (Enjoyment, Mladá fronta, 1993), Zimohrádek (Winter Palace, Československý spisovatel, 1965), Dutý břeh (Hollow Bank, Mladá fronta, 1967) and Loutky (Puppets, Čs. spisovatel, 1970). “A poem is something which cannot be understood just like that, using reason alone. And it takes more than reason alone to create it,” said the author in an interview with the journalist and author Karel Hvížďala.

During Normalization Wernisch worked for Czech Radio, and in 1989 he officially published his first “post-revolution” collection – Včerejší den (Yesterday, Mladá fronta, 1989) is an anthology of poems from the years 1957 – 1987. His other major works include Frc – překlady a překrady (Pawn Shop, Čs. spisovatel, 1991), Doupě latinářů (The Latin Scholar’s Den, Petrov, 1992), Pekařova noční nůše (The Baker’s Night Hamper, Petrov, 1994), Cesta do Ašchabadu neboli Pumpke a dalajlámové (Journey to Ashkhabad or Pumpke and the Dalai Lamas, Petrov, 1997), Bez kufru se tak pěkně skáče po stromech neboli Nún (It’s So Easy to Jump Around the Trees Without a Suitcase, Petrov, 2001), Blbecká poezie (Idiotic Poetry, Petrov, 2002) and Růžovejch květů sladká vůně – Virtuos na prdel (The Sweet Smell of Pink Roses – Virtuos on its Arse, Petrov, 2003). His recent works include Kominické lodě (Chimney Boats, Druhé město, 2009) and S brokovnicí pod kabátem (With a Shotgun Under this Coat, Druhé město, 2014). This last-named work is described by Markéta Kittlová on iLiteratura.cz thus: “What characterizes the poetry of Ivan Wernisch most aptly is perhaps its unreliability. The author dons all sorts of masks – playful, wistful, deceptive, earthy, deferential, derisive. However, this unreliability is also connected with uncertainty and a lack of culmination, thanks to which the collection is open, attracts repeat reading and awakens a desire to let oneself be carried up once again to the heights of Wernisch’s poems and jump, even in the knowledge that someone might maliciously cut the cord of one’s parachute again.”

Also worthy of attention are Wernisch’s editorial activities – he has put together several collections of poetry, especially that which is marginal, neglected or even scorned, one example of which is the anthology Živ jsem byl! (I was Alive!, Druhé město, 2012), for which the author and publisher were awarded the Magnesia Litera for achievements in publishing.

Notable awards
 2012 State Award for Literature
 1992 Jaroslav Seifert Prize