Over the past year, the Czech Literary Centre (CLC), a section of the Moravian Library, has focused on promoting Czech poetry. It has organised trips abroad for poets, supported the publication of books and magazines, worked on digital projects (e.g. a series on Czech poetry for audiences at home and abroad), and catered to writers-in-residence. The different types of support are outlined below.
Due to the pandemic, in the first half of the year in particular, the CLC focused on online activities and produced two video series which are available on YouTube and Facebook. The aim of the seven-part series Poetry in the Regions was to present regional literature with a special focus on poetry. The poets themselves gave detailed and personal presentations of poetry from Ostrava, Central Bohemia, Olomouc, Uherské Hradiště, Vysočina, and Brno.
The second series, Czech Poetry in the World, presented new publications by contemporary Czech poets recently published in Western and Southern Europe. For example, the series looked at the Czech-Spanish anthology De sombra y terciopelo (2021), which contains poems by 17 Czech female poets, and at the German publisher hochroth, which regularly publishes Czech poetry in German translation. One episode which focuses on the Anglo-Saxon world, where translations of works by Tereza Riedlbauchová, Kateřina Rudčenková, and Milan Děžinský have been published over the past two years, was premiered at the StAnza Festival in Scotland.
Additionally, the CLC also turned its attention to slam poetry – there are recordings available on YouTube featuring leading Czech slammers, which accompany an overview on slam poetry written by Tomáš Kůs.
Poets at Events Abroad
There were also other ways in which the Czech Literary Centre promoted Czech poetry collections that were published abroad. Most importantly, it co-organised and financially supported trips by poets to international festivals and book fairs, where they had the opportunity to introduce their new books. A collection of poems by Petr Borkovec was published in Slovenia, where he and Olga Stehlíková appeared at the Days of Wine and Poetry Festival.
In Poland, Milan Děžinský and his translator Zofia Bałdyga presented the Polish translation of his book Obcházení ostrova. Děžinský also toured three cities in England and Scotland, where he read from the English edition of his collection Tajný život (A Secret Life). In Germany, Jan Škrob presented his book Off Topic (2020). The CLC also supported trips by poets to other countries (Bulgaria, Austria, Romania, Greece, and Slovenia).
Activities in the Czech Republic
The Czech Literary Centre not only focused on the international scene, but it was also involved on a national level. For example, five poets were awarded residencies lasting several weeks in the towns of Broumov and Horní Planá. The CLC financially supported the appearance of authors at the international poetry festivals Prague Microfestival and Den Poezie (Poetry Day). In addition, it organised a Czech-Portuguese evening with five Czech poets as part of the festival Knihovna na vlnách (Library on the Waves) and a debate on new international anthologies of Czech poetry at the Svět knihy (Book World) book fair.
This year, the Czech Literary Centre encouraged and financed the publication of a Czech issue of the Barcelona literary monthly Quimera. Revista de Literatura. In addition to excerpts from prose, articles, and an interview, the issue also contains a diverse collection of poetry (by seven contemporary poets).
In 2021, the CLC published six articles on Czech poetry for the CzechLit website. Tereza Novická wrote an overview of Czech poetry in English translation over the past three decades (the article is available in both Czech and English). Kathrin Janka followed on from Novická with a text about Czech poetry in German-speaking areas between 2000 and 2020.
There was also an essay by Jan Škrob on the youngest generation of poets, an article by Tomáš Kůs on slam poetry, and an article on a special issue of the French revue Secousse dedicated to Petr Král. In the wake of the recent death of Petr Král, an online event was held in March in honour of the poet. The memorial evening, organised by the Paris Czech Centre in cooperation with the CLC, was hosted by Jean-Gaspard Páleníček.
In December, the CLC published Karel Piorecký’s overview article of Czech poetry from 2010 to 2020. The text, which is available on the website in both Czech and English, looks at significant poetry collections which have been published since 2010.