Poetry – The priority of the Czech Literary Centre for 2021

After comics, the CLC will focus on another often overlooked area: poetry.


M. Iljašenko, P. Borkovec, J. Škrob, J. Typlt, K. Rudčenková, J. Srbová, M. Děžinský. Photos: O. Lipár (Iljašenko, Borkovec a Děžinský), P. Z. Vrabec, A. Typltová, P. Horák, J. Chuchma

M. Iljašenko, P. Borkovec, J. Škrob, J. Typlt, K. Rudčenková, J. Srbová, M. Děžinský. Photos: O. Lipár (Iljašenko, Borkovec a Děžinský), P. Z. Vrabec, A. Typltová, P. Horák, J. Chuchma

Last year, the Czech Literary Centre (CLC), a section of the Moravian Library, focused its activities on Czech comics. This year, in keeping with its long-term objectives, it will concentrate on another often overlooked area: poetry. However, due to the pandemic, the CLC will have to adapt its promotion of Czech poets abroad accordingly. It will support the publication of books and journals, create digital formats (a series on Czech poetry for an international audience, online readings and discussions) and organize residencies for writers. There is a detailed description below of the different types of support.

Promoting anthologies and special issues of journals

The CLC will continue to support Czech poetry abroad through journals and anthologies. MPT_obalkaIn 2020 the CLC was involved in the publication of a Czech-poetry issue of the Modern Poetry in Translation journal (you can find out more here). There will also be cooperation with the British journal in this year’s exhibition of historical issues of the journal focused on Central and Eastern Europe, which will be part of the Scottish StAnza 2021 poetry festival. In addition to the exhibition, the festival programme will also feature three online events on Czech poetry (a discussion, lecture and short documentary).

SousedkyLast year, the CLC also contributed towards the Polish anthology Sąsiadki (Neighbours), which presented to Polish readers works by ten Czech poets translated by Zofia Bałdyga. A similar anthology will be published in Spain this year with poetry by seventeen Czech poets (see the list of poets here). The CLC will be heavily involved in the promotion of Polish and Spanish anthologies. Together with the poet Mario Martín Gijón, it will organize a special feature on Czech poetry in the Spanish monthly Quimera. The CLC is also co-financing a Slovenian anthology, showcasing poets from Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Czech poetry will be represented by the poets Jan Škrob, Adam Borzič and Magdalena Šipka.

Promoting new books in translation

In addition to poetry anthologies, the CLC will also promote new translations of Czech poetry books. A book of poetry by Petr Borkovec is to be published in Slovenia, where the author will appear in several cities in June and alongside Olga Stehlíková at the international Days of Poetry and Wine festival.

The 2014 Days of Poetry and Wine festival. Foto: Matej Pušnik Photo: Matej Pušnik

The 2014 Days of Poetry and Wine festival. Foto: Matej Pušnik Photo: Matej Pušnik

There is also promising news from Great Britain, where a collection by Milan Děžinský and a selection of poems by Kateřina Rudčenková will be published this year. The CLC will help introduce these books to an English-speaking readership. In Germany, the CLC will continue its cooperation with the German publishing house Hochroth, which will publish a translated collection by Jitka N. Srbová this year. She and Jan Škrob are to appear at the Leipzig Book Festival.

Neither will there be a shortage of Czech poetry at the book fair in Paris. There will be an evening of poetry as part of a programme featuring Czech writers, which the CLC is organizing in conjunction with the Paris Czech Centre and Maison de la poési. It will be dedicated to Petr Král, who recently passed away, as well as Jaromír Typlt, whose poems in French translation will soon be published by Fissile publishers.

Residences for Czech and international poets

As of this year the CLC, in conjunction with the Adalbert Stifter Association and the Bavarian State Chancellery, will be offering residences in Horní Planá to one Czech and one German writer. The residences are for the whole of June and will be exclusively for poets from the Czech Republic and Germany this year (applications from 1 February 2021). Extracts from the poetry written during the residency will be published in the Sudetenland cultural magazine. The two authors will also attend the Šumava litera festival in November.

As part of the ongoing residencies which the CLC organizes together with the Broumov Monastery Educational and Cultural Centre, two months have been set aside for poets. The two Czech residents will spend a month in Broumov with two poets from abroad. The poet Miloš Doležal and Katia Sophia Ditzler from Germany, nominated by the Goethe Institute in Prague, will be resident at the Literature House in spring. In September, one Czech and one Polish poet will meet as part of the regular cooperation with the Vratislav Literature House in Broumov. They will both be introduced to Czech and Polish readers as part of cultural events organised by the CLC.

Photo: Broumov Monastery

Photo: Broumov Monastery

The translator and poet from Italy (who writes in Spanish), Ángelo Néstore, accepted the CLC’s offer of a residency in Prague. The CLC promises that his residency in September will lead to the establishment of new ties between the poetry scenes in Spain and the Czech Republic.

A booklet and series on contemporary Czech poetry

In spring the CLC will publish Czech Poetry 2010-2020, a representative cross-section of Czech poetry. This booklet in English will contain extracts from the works of some of the leading Czech poets, whose poems might appeal to an international audience. The introduction to the booklet is by the editor – the literary scholar Karel Piorecký from the Institute of Czech Literature. Each poet is presented together with their most highly acclaimed book of poetry, and there are fifteen artists from three generations. As part of the booklet launch, there will be a poetry reading featuring between three and five of the poets included in the anthology.

Along with this publication, the CLC is also preparing a four-part video series entitled Czech Poetry in the World, which will be released in March. The series aims to present new publications by contemporary Czech poets who have recently been published, or are about to be published, in the CLC’s priority areas of Britain, France, Spain and German-speaking countries.