Poet, literary academic, educationalist, organizer and screenwriter. He was awarded the State Prize for Literature (2013) and the Jana Skácel Award (2009). His collections have been translated into English, French, German, Slovenian, Dutch and Polish. He was born in Ostrava on 7 June 1964.
Before the fall of communism he received the title of engineer at Báňská Technical University, then he continued his studies at the Faculty of Arts in Ostrava. He gained his doctorate in Czech literature at Masaryk University in Brno and he still teaches at both of these institutes today. His poems have been published in anthologies and journals, he is a member of the editorial board of Host magazine, he published the magazine Landek and is involved in the publication of Odvrácená strana měsíce (The Dark Side of the Moon). He has helped organise literary and artistic events in Ostrava.
He made his literary debut with the collection Obývací nepokoje (Living No Room, Sfinga, 1995). Critic Radim Kopáč wrote that, “it is distinguished by its impressionist obsession with the moment and detail.”
In the collection, Měsíce (Moons, Host, 1998), the author emphasises time, as though on the one hand he had stopped time, but on the other, he was aware of it as a headlong rush. “While the first one, measurable and identifiable, was embodied in the rigidness rising up into the walls of the living room, into the cursory glances and snatches of ‘life’s course’, the second one, internal time running through the action, has speeded up to the point of anguish,” wrote writer Ondřej Macura about the collection. Hruška’s collections are always complemented by wonderful illustrations – Adam Paleček illustrated the first collection, Zdeněk Janošec-Benda the second and for the third collection, Vždycky se ty dveře zavíraly (The Doors Always Used to Close, Host, 2002) the author used Daniel Balabán. Here, unlike with the first two collections, there is an obvious romantic dimension to the poetry: “The door used to always close over by itself, year after year, with unhurried haste. / Now it won’t even budge. / In front of it a woman guiltily lifts a large / undershirt, which fell from the line during the night. / The man looks at the woman with the shirt. Probably the wind. / Some time during the night. / Both would like to know, to know exactly when / it happened, both would like to be there at that moment.”
Two years later saw the publication of Hruška’s Zelený svetr (Green Sweater, Host, 2004), an edition of previous collections supplemented with prose work and illustrations by Hana Puchová.
Jakub Špaňhel illustrated the collection Auta vjíždějí do lodí (The Cars Drive onto the Boat, Host, 2007) which won the Jan Skácel Award. Critic Dora Koprálová wrote that, “With Auta vjíždějí do lodí Petr Hruška as a poet of civil nightmares has perhaps reached the end of the road of an economical and persistent rigidity. At the same time, the question emerges of where you can actually go with this obsession to observe in every detail a glimpse of eternity and damnation.”
Hruška won the State Prize for Literature for the collection Darmata (Host, 2012) and was nominated for the Magnesia Litera for poetry. “Today by the river / you shouted something at me / across the murky rapids / and I couldn’t understand you, it sounded like / Darmata! / Oh can I darmata!” This is from the poetic dialogues between a father and son from which the collection gets its name. Just as with travelling (trains, boats), children (parents) are also a fundamental part of Hruška’s poetics. In his review of the book Jan Štolba asks, “The mysterious word darmata conveys the impression of an anagram. Somewhere in the background a small drama continues to play out, twisted by our misunderstandings, mistakes and inadequacies. But might there be other hidden meanings even here? And in particular the same gesture, the same image: the incomprehensible cries of a boy across a river. Perhaps he could be understood in this way: What have you given me then? What is this confused gift? What should I do to stop from floundering within it for nothing?”
In 2015 Revolver revue published Hruška’s book Jedna věta (One Sentence), which is part of a long-term project, in which the leading Czech writers describe the year with one sentence about each day.