Petr Hruška

Petr Hruška

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.

Title Publisher Year Selected published translations Awards
Nowhere It Is Said (Nikde není řečeno) Host 2018
Not My Own (Nevlastní) Argo 2017
Best Czech Poems of 2014 (Nejlepší české básně 2014) Host 2014
Petty Tragedies (Darmata) Host 2013 HU  2013 State Award for Literature
Petty Tragedies (Darmata) Host 2012 HU  2013 State Award for Literature
Někde tady. Český básník Karel Šiktanc Host 2010
The Cars Drive onto the Boat (Auta vjíždějí do lodí) Host 2007
Green Sweater (Zelený svetr) Host 2004
The Door Always Used to Close (Vždycky se ty dveře zavíraly) Host 2002
Months (Měsíce) Host 1998
Living No Room (Obývací nepokoje) Sfinga 1995
Nowhere It Is Said
Nikde není řečeno
Not My Own
Best Czech Poems of 2014
Nejlepší české básně 2014
Někde tady. Český básník Karel Šiktanc
Někde tady. Český básník Karel Šiktanc
Auta vjíždějí do lodí
The Cars Drive onto the Boat
Auta vjíždějí do lodí
Zelený svetr
Green Sweater
Zelený svetr
Vždycky se ty dveře zavíraly
The Door Always Used to Close
Vždycky se ty dveře zavíraly
Obývací nepokoje
Petr Hruška
Living No Room
Obývací nepokoje
Award Year Country
Premio Ciampi 2014 Italia
State Award for Literature 2013 Česká republika
Dresden Lyric Award 1998 Deutschland
Hruška’s collection is filled with personal moments as well as general imperfect truths. This is why it is easy for the imperfect person to appreciate Hruška’s poetry. “We have our best table setting out?” asks Hruška’s verse, which, like the whole book, is beautiful and sad at the same time.
—Michael Alexa

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.

Notable awards
 2014 Premio Ciampi
 2013 State Award for Literature