Slovakian Spring – Part 2

Dear Readers,

We’re not certain how, but our second instalment of Slovakian Poetry from our Spring season has disappeared into the aether – which is a pity, as these poets are well worth the read! (You can still see Part 1 & Part 3 under Translations, so make sure to check those out whilst you’re here.)

Today we are publishing Part 2 afresh, and hope it brightens your Tuesday – we know it has done so for us! What a gorgeous way to kick off our Autumn Season of the magazine!

Enjoy!

people / clays / permafrost’ by Ola Glustik

I was seven when my neighbour / father 
of four children decided to leave / at his home 
in the living room / and then the other / in the barn a shot 
in twelve other / a rope in an apple tree 

it was always minus twenty outside / beaten,
barren land /an economic crisis
and at home at the table the presence / a tea 
spoon you can’t bend 

We / the children of this street had the courage 
to play only in the cemetery / to prepare 
a grave space / to serve a simple 
ceremony / the end 

We remained silent for a long time / To this day 
we don’t speak /since childhood, we’ve had our mouths full 
of dirt and stones

Translated by Natalie Nera

The Inextricable Blade’ by Erik Markovič

The salt of the earth, unbroken 
I can vouch for forgiveness in the woods, in the lakes
in the shells of oysters, and in the womb of a lightsaber.

I am without the earth; I have not grown roots
with my hands in your hair, with my tongue
in your mouth, not on the Moon, I only fly
and pity the wide and clear field beneath me
Your field, that is neither tasteless nor flavoured with spices,
unbroken by my grace, untainted with my blood.

You cannot separate your arms from your body, and stretch them towards me,
although you would love to fly after me, like your soul, whose dove
I caught under my shirt when the body gave up.
And from her into the earth it flew until it got rotten during the flight and turned into black fertile soil.

From the breast of your burnt hills, you speak of your desire silently
high up in the trees, Seeds in whose name the branch does not sprout out, 
for only above your head, unmoving, it grows wild in brambles.  

Translated by Natalie Nera; from the collection ‘Ikoncikosť. Prestupovanie Slnka’

Weight of the Balance’ by Erik Ondrejička

Weight of the balance
in quiet dance of leaves
in a body of ash

in orbital curves
of a path in rough sketch
that’s vanished in a flash

Decodes delicacy
so it may be pure
with hardly a word said

and from lead creates
like an alchemist
ever newly lead

Translated by John Minahane

sulphur’ by Martina Straková

touches our sun-tanned bodies
in the spots
where shingles
impress their shape we go barefoot
to make us feel again
that we’re still living
that nothing of this is sham
haptically
we sink our roots at the most trusty points
where salt means pulp
and water is dim and cold

Translated by John Minahane

Meet the Poets!

Ola Glustik (b. 1987, Slovakia) is a poet, publicist and media specialist. Currently working on the manuscript of the third poetry collection called Body and (con)text. Part of manuscript was awarded in prestigious czechoslovak competition Básne SK/CZ 2021. Ola is going to participate in the Spring Edition of the Visegrad Literary Residency Program in 2022 in Bratislava.

Her second book Atlas of biological women (2017) was awarded with the premium prize by the Slovak Literary Fund and with The M. Rúfus premium prize. This book was published partly in Czech (in anthology Být knihou a v rukou se ti otevřít, Nakl. P. Mervart, 2019) and in Romanian (Atlasul femeilor biologice, frACTalia, 2020, transl.: Mircea Dan Duta). She debuted with the collection of poems called Placed into trees (2014).

Her poems and publicistic texts were published online and in magazines in Slovakia (Rozum, Fraktál, Glosolália, Knižná revue), in the Czech Republic (Ravt, Revue Weles, Cadena Magica, Poli5), in Romania, Peru and Serbia. They were also read in Slovak national radio and published in numerous anthologies.

She is one of the founding members of the Bratislava author’s club BRAK, which is an incubator for the young writers in the Slovak capital city. In 2019 worked as a secretary of the Slovak PEN Centre.

She worked as a journalist in the regional newspaper and in the economic daily newspaper. Nowadays she is working as a media specialist for two big construction and industrial companies.

Erik Markovič (1972) – poet, philosopher and songwriter. He has published a set of 7 collections of poetry: Ikonickosť. Prestupovanie Slnka. (LN Studňa, 2014), from philosophy Po-postmoderný princíp palintropickosti 1 (LN Well, 2017). Through his writing and work, he seeks to identify post-postmodern aesthetic principles. From 2018 to 2021, he was the president of AOSS, The Association of Authors’ Organisations in Slovakia.

Erik Ondrejička was born on May 1, 1964 in the Old Town of Bratislava, where he still lives and works. He is a graduate of Bratislava’s Technical University, Department of Geodesy and Cartography. He has been writing poetry for more than three decades, however, he made his publication debut in 2004, with the collection On the Inner Side of the Eyelids. Five of his eight books have been awarded literary prizes (Eyes and Rhymes, On the Inner Side of the, Eyelids, (e)Pigrams, Say Just a Word) and Happygrams. Eyes and Rhymes, the revised version of On the Inner Side of the Eyelids, the bibliophilic collection IM PULZ – Waiting of Substance, AB80, Happygrams and Abecedári received honourable mention in the competition for the Most Beautiful Book of Slovakia in 2010-2019. Abecedári was also awarded the Bronze Medal at the Creativity International Awards (USA) and in the national competition for Best Children´s Book of Summer 2015 and Most Beautiful Children´s Book of Summer 2015. Erik Ondrejička is a member of the Slovak PEN Centre and the Club of Independent Writers. More information at https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Ondreji%C4%8Dka

Martina Straková (Slovakia) studied cultural sciences and graduated from the Faculty of Arts at the Comenius University in Bratislava. She received scholarships at leading German universities and her PhD title in Philosophy. For her poetry debut Postcards from Invisible Places (Pohľadnice z neviditeľných miest, 2019) she received the Bridges of Struga Award for the best poetry debut in 2019 awarded annually under the auspices of the UNESCO by the world’s renowned poetry festival, the Struga Poetry Evenings Festival in North Macedonia. Since 2013, she has been co-organizing the International Poetry Festival Ars Poetica, where she holds a free creative writing workshop Bring Your Poem offered to the wide public as a regular part of the festival program. She is dedicated to writing poetry, fairy tales for children, painting and artistic translation from/to German and English language. She lives and works in Bratislava. www.martistrak.sk 

Video-poem “I’m Sheltering from a Storm”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmVM8f4DKCE 

The poem sulphur comes from the poetry collection Martina Straková: Postcards from Invisible Places, Ars Poetica Publishing House, Bratislava, 2019, translated into English by John Minahane.

Slovakian Spring – Part 3

For our last instalment, we introduce five lyrical poets who responded to our call. We hope that their poetic outlook speaks across borders, and shows different dimensions of being.

near the blue woods’ by Marta Franeková

between the water and water
plant me
just beyond the meadow 
for which bees have always meant everything 

I’ll breathe in greedily 
as if I’d never existed for real and in reality 
until now 
In a forest full of consciousness
I wake up my own hands and they 
in the same instant fly away
the trees dress themselves in the festive costumes 
we’ll be together 
and invoke heaven with our eyes 
for to use my voice would not be appropriate

the day I begin 
to ignore the light 
I shall count the growth rings I’ve lived 
and when it’s decided 
when the time comes to cut me down
I’ll fall in your direction
there
where we felt the bare moss under our feet 

Rebirth’ by Judita Ďurčová

Kneeling on the seashore                                       
I pick up the fragments                                                        
of the autumn goblins made of glass,                                             
who sleep by the door                                           
of the soul of fire.

At the midnight inn
The White Death awaits me                                                            
His serpent-like eyes are full of sadness,                                       
while silken trees are caressing                                                      
my cheeks…

On the stairs of the blue rainbow
He leads me by the hand                                                                         
to the sacred ruins                                                      
where angels dance                                                                           
in the golden grass.                                                                        

Pinning’ by Vlasta Mesárošová

You give me crooked drawing pins.
At least I can hold my breath.
They say:
“Don’t whine, keep walking, kneepads 
enjoy the whole experience!”

I’ve got used to the magician
pulling out bad luck from the hat for me.
Wrapped in shrapnel, just in case,
to –
to hold together better,
so it won’t vanish with the next day,
to scrape the gilding off the bone,

the slashes on my knees don’t hurt

The Sun Is Love’ by Anton Andrej Pižurný

Like the metastasis of evil today
envy pervades everywhere, 
changing subtly 
into hatred.
The god Ares rubs
His hands with glee.
He doesn’t have to think of any schemes, 
we’ll kill each other without him.
Yet again, 
the sun rises.
It’s still up there, mighty 
and unrivaled.
Yet, Hope like pollen 
still paints our mornings.
The Sun is Love.
Where does a good man live?
In each one of us.
In everyone.
Really?

City’ by Dušan Láznička

Fire!
fear
the city of screams

Death
will perfect
the pulse of the present

ruins 
corpses
Time
– absolutely certain

absurdity

x x x

the city of sleep
not worth

panting
I see
the pleasure of the ruins
the whiteness of the glow
the fire of the dead

chill
nothingness
malignant silence
space
without emptiness

I feel
The coldness of the fear
last

in the eyes – my sorrow
smog
near the temple
             a REVOLVER

Meet the Poets!

Judita Ďurčová (1983), a poet and prose writer, read history at the University in Bratislava, Slovakia. She lives in Nové Město nad Váhom. Her poems appear regularly in literary magazines.

Marta Franeková was born in 1961, in Námestov. She lives and works as a kindergarten teacher in Oravské Veselý. Her work has been published in the following periodicals: Dotyki, Literary Weekly, in the magazine Vertigo, in the collections of the literary portal Litweb; the latter one also published her collection Oh Willow, Willow in the anthologies Pars Artem and Svetlom modrý. She made her book debut in 2012 with the collection Mute Herons (DALi Košice); in 2015 she published the collection Odklonené svety (DALi Košice) with the support of the State Literary Fund, and in 2019 her poetry book Rozprávanky (Perfekt Bratislava) was again financially supported by the Literary Fund.

Dušan Láznička (b. 1975) started his literary work when styding a in high school. His science fiction triptych was awarded third place in the National Literary Competition for Secondary School students. Later, he worked as an editor (Christian magazine Plátok), essayist and poet. In the second half of the 1990s he joined the Omega Literary Club in Trenčín, where he published poetry and prose in their collections and anthologies. He was the editor-in-chief of the club’s magazine Ars – Verbum. In 2012, he won second place in the prose category of the Jozef Branecký Literary Competition. In 2019, Pars Artem published his collection Journeys, which is his tribute to surrealism. In it, he experiments with automatic text and surreal images.

Vlasta Mesárošová was born in 1969 to a family of mixed nationalities. Part Hungarian, Slovak, German and Roma Gypsy, her literary poeticism is influenced by this rich heritage. Vlasta studied social work and has devoted her whole life to helping others. She is also involved in humanitarian aid. She is a family person, very proud of her husband and two sons.  

Anton Andrej Pižurný, born in 1961 near Zilina, is a writer, copywriter, publisher, editor, and radio presenter. He has authored 11 prose and poetry books. Moreover, he has written 5 books of reportages and 7 books for children. His other activities involve script writing and an ongoing collaboration with the Ministry for Education in Slovakia. He lives in Bratislava with his wife and three children.

Mum (A Phenomenal Woman) by Nikola Veselá

I want to thank you for your brightest smile 
that showed me
how you sacrificed your dreams
so that I can pursue mine.
I want to apologize for calling you pretty
before calling you brave or smart
because your mind
is the most beautiful piece of art.

A Note from the Editor

I often use creative writing in my English Language classes to improve my students’ understanding and feel for the language. Needless to say, they always rise to the challenge, but every now and again, you encounter a rare talent that leaves you speechless. Nikola Veselá is such a talent. She wrote this poem last year when she was only 14.

We had planned to share this piece to wish women around the world Happy International Women’s Day and Happy Mother’s Day. Now, just a country away, Ukraine is being torn apart by war. Women and girls are being impacted. Teenagers the same age as Nikola. Women the same age as you, as your sister, mother, niece, daughter…

If you can, it would be wonderful if you could donate to the United Nations Population Fund, which is particularly focused on helping endangered women and girls in Ukraine. You can find out more (and donate!) here.

Meet the Poet

Nikola Veselá is a student at Pražské humanitní gymnázium in Prague. She is an avid reader, and her specialist subject is Jane Austen.

Slovakian Spring

with Raspberries on Her Fingers

by Miroslav Dávid

i think everybody would want her
and preferably if she were only theirs
nailed upside down
bleeding raspberries on the Marian cross 
from steel reinforcement

with raspberries on her fingers 
she won’t hurt anybody

 they’re from her garden 

that is like a poem 
and from all the healing herbs of true love and shots of rum

 so don’t you interfere, devil 
even if she’s bare to her soul
she’s going to be mine. 

Miroslav Dávid writing as Moddivari and River Salome: “with Raspberries on Fingers” (Elist Publishing, 2018)

Ripe

by Danica Hrnčiarová Šišláková

burlesque tones of silly wishes
reverberated in the trumpets of Jericho
forgiven is the one 
who wounded
the beast inside me that doesn’t grow

the battle is over
only silence now 
I peer into the poetry window
I’ve (hopefully) won the duel with pride
the other results – one all

The Ballad of the Pearl (to All Petrarcas)

by Vladimír Skalský

Like a scalpel stuck in the chest
a grain of sand hurts so much
it penetrated the oyster’s armour
only because 
In the moment of weakness
It was let close to the heart

There is nothing left
but to wrap the pain in beauty
to dull the pain with words
and, with the cut-up heart,
toll furiously
all the bells
of the lonely bedroom

I Stopped You

by Vladimír Skalský

I stopped you in the street
Maybe you would have been run over by a car
Maybe you would have met a great love
And your son might have destroyed the world
Or solved the nuclear waste problem
I held you up for three minutes
Surely another sperm would make it
Marilyn Monroe would have crooked legs
Kennedy’s assassin wouldn’t be born at all
Ten years from now, we’d land on Mars

I stopped you in the street
And that is how I changed the world

Meet the Poets

Miroslav Dávid is a Slovak poet, an award-winning lyricist who celebrated massive success with hits for Slovak rock and pop acts in the 80s. He is also a music manager and producer. So far, he has four poetry collections published: Rogalo, veľryba a Kristus Pán (2017: Trio Publishing, Bratislava), Detox (2017: Silvia Hodálová – VIUSS, Bratislava), s Malinami nastoknutými na Prstoch (2018: Vydavateľstvo Elist), Domino (2019: Vydavateľstvo Elist). He has also been awarded prestigious literary prices such Mobel Prize 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively or Pars Poetry 2018. He has three children and two grandchildren. He is divorced.

Danica Hrnčiarová Šišláková, an award-winning poet and a software analyst, comes from Banská Bystrica (Slovakia) but is currently living in the Czech Republic. She started writing first poems when she  was about 8 years old. At the age of 13, she became a published poet: she published in the literary supplement of the magazine Nové slovo, with then the editor-in-chief Vojtech Mihálik and in the anthology Právo na píseň. After starting a family, she took a long hiatus from writing. After 2015, she returned to poetry again and ventured to read it publicly. Her poems appeared in many anthologies in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, as well as publication in the online magazine of the Association of World Writers (AWW). 

Vladimír Skalský was born on April 26, 1972 in Prešov, Slovakia, where he graduated from grammar school. Later, he earned a master’s degree in theoretical physics at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University in Prague. As well as running his own business, since 1992 he has held a number of public office positions and management positions in various media corporations. Since 1996, he has been the vice-chairman of the Slovak-Czech Club and deputy editor-in-chief of the magazine Slovenské dotyky (Slovak Touches), and from 2004 to 2013 he was the editor of the literary quarterly, the Czech-Slovak journal Zrkadlenie/Zrcadlení (Mirror/Zrcadlení). Since 2006 he has been the President of the World Association of Slovaks Abroad, and since 2009 he has been the Vice President of the Europeans in the World, based in Brussels. Since 2014 he has been the director of the Slovak House in Prague. He is a member (2004 – 2010 and from 2019 until now) and Vice-Chairman (2005 – 2008) of the Government Council for National Minorities of the Czech Republic. He has authored many books: the collections of poems To Silence (2000) and From Two Shores (2017) and the collection of essays Keywords: Prague, Slovakia, literature (2004). All in all, he appears as either an author, co-author or editor of about thirty books. He was co-editor of the three-volume anthology of Slovak literature abroad Between Two Houses (2008-2010) and co-editor of Čítanka moderní slov. literature for secondary schools (2003). His poems and essays have been translated into English, French, Czech, Chinese, Hungarian, Russian and Serbian.

All translations by Natalie Nera.

A Peruvian Autumn – Part 3

Broken

 by Filonilo Catalina

We 
who are broken
are always trying to fix ourselves
either with a glass of wine in our hand
or with a syringe in our arms.
Always
we always try to mend ourselves
in church with our hair neatly combed
or with a partner by the hand.
We
who are broken
walk until our shoes are worn out
we stand in long lines in the pews
and with sad smiles we wait well seated.
We 
who are broken
say good morning without thinking
and without remedy 
we leave this world 
with our suits on and our hair in a ponytail.

Until the last song

by Lourdes Aparicion

In memory of Evelyn Rondinelli, my Blue Orbital

I have searched for you under the rocks
who have been sleeping since you resigned from Ayacucho
your shadow was a blue bird
I was walking the glory
shaggy heads
and the adobe houses
where we lived when you were meat
you used to hide
under that river that led us
and dance to the last song
in dis-crazy parties,
You expected that every night
tear themselves apart before your eyes
with your smile
a blue rainbow
a serene and blue sky
a calm blue river
a blue rain
and this heart that
I know
gather
shrink
rips apart
blunts
from
that
your
voice
flew

Hymn to Seeing

by Valeria Chauvel

I’ve seen nature, infinite, boundless
The life I see around is countless
There is hope with us, I may prove
I’ve seen them breathe and move.

I’ve seen the night white colours
In between its dark hues
I’ve seen the light undercover
Behind the clouds, it diffuse.

I’ve stopped to walk and talk
To learn, to see and hear
In the space, timeless clock
The beauty and sounds in here.

The New Life

by Willy Gómez

We were leaving in your car and we had an open moon chasing us. 
On your body grew other shores of high meadows, 
and in my hands your photos, my glasses, your citrus cologne and my cigarettes.

We were driving at 120 km/h listening to the radio Tragedies of Priam, 
astonished because of the alum stains on the track 
that darkened the road towards a horizon of frightened lights.  

A protagonist of the escape was going with us to the Lima carnival. 
I was saving for the arrival of its bridges and its gardens, 
the waltzes of the old neighborhood, the adobo recipe and the modern dance.

Until the narcissus came to us wanting to fight, 
after the desire to go further 
while the cars slowed down one after the other
and slid over the real landscape of wires and poles of the Costa Verde. 

That starless night we were caught in a double collision between machines. 

But we could still hear the sea breaking the waves.

About the Authors 

Lourdes Aparicion (Apurímac, 1993). Lourdes Apari Moscoso, also Lourdes Aparicion. Migrant, activist, psychologist and community cultural manager. She lives in Paracas (Pisco, Ica), where she is the co-founder of the Emergentes del Mar Cultural Group. She is the author of the “Warmi” plaquette. Likewise, she has been invited to participate in different literary events, national and international, and some of her texts make up various literary exhibitions in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Mexico. In 2020, she obtained the first honorable mention in the XI El Poeta Joven del Perú Contest with a first version of her book entitled Apacheta.

Filonilo Catalina: He is a cultural manager. He won the COPÉ prize for poetry in 2005 with his book El Monstruo de los Cerros and, in 2015, he obtained the first place for poetry in the “El País de Ofelia” award in Spain with the book Arquitectura de Pájaros. He has published seven books of poetry. In his youth he was a member of the Box team from Arequipa. Nowadays he is currently dedicated to make musical compositions. He directs the label “Rupestre” with which he disseminates the poetry of his country.

Valeria Chauvel Moscoso (1998, Lima, Perú). Studies philosophy at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, and is as passionate about poetry and visual arts as she is about her career. She has participated in a collective publication with the FCE in the poetry book “Versos desde el encierro” and in the recital of La Huaca es Poesía, “De las voces del Perú y Latinoamérica para el mundo” (From the voices of Peru and Latin America to the world). She is currently part of the organization La Huaca es Poesía. Also, she is about to finish her first collection of poems, where the search for meaning, existential emptiness and the absurd are the themes that prompted the creation of this first book of verses.

Willy Gómez Migliaro was born in Lima-Peru on August 13, 1968. Winner of the Latin American poetry prize Festival de la Lira 2015. He has directed the poetry magazines Polvo enamorado (1990-1992) and Tokapus (1993-1996). He has also published the books of poetry Etérea (2002), Nada como los campos (2003) and La breve eternidad de Raymundo Nóvak (2005), all under the Hipocampo Editores label; Moridor (Pakarina Ediciones, 2010), Construcción Civil (Paracaídas Editores, 2013), Nuevas Batallas (Arteidea Editores, 2013), Pintura roja (Paracaidas Editores, 2016) Lírico puro (Hipocampo Editores, 2017), Among the research books it has been compiler of the book OPEMPE, relatos orales asháninka y nomatsiguenga (Editorial AndesBook, 2009) y Cholos, 13 poetas peruanos nacidos entre el 70 y el 90  (Catafixia, 2014). His poems have appeared in major Spanish-American and European magazines. He has been published in different national and international poetry anthologies. He is currently a professor of literature, creative writing, and literary consultant.

A Peruvian Autumn – Part 2

Borderline poem 10

by Jorge Ccoyllurpuma

I’m tied to the ground like a sad child’s balloon or the smile of a drunk.
I’m made out of cardboard and milk, of darts; I’m made up of feathers you don’t have but that I invented for you.
I’m a stone at the window of God; I’m also the stone in your dirty window.
I am a plastic kite and a boat in the bathtub.
I’m a bathtub of hot water, with Pisco and eggs for your stomachache.
I am, I’ll say it now, your dirty laundry.
I’m tied to the sky by every fiber of December’s rain, I’m blue incense.
I’m the unmovable afternoon right where you are.

* From Para detener el tiempo (2013)
* Translated by Jesús de la Garza, Martina Hoines and Pieter Odendaal

a violet dawn before the great wilderness

by Victoria Mallorga

burning tires
lavender grows down highways 
as we learn how to kiss in the backseat
forget our hands, 
ignore the smog behind us the
city’s many eyes              ​ workforce
long men and batons ready
for the unapologetic labor 
of correcting wildlife

but us, 
we grow like foxtails
bullets rain dry over a body
unable to hold blood,
over bodies that meet again
in the backseat whispering
little lovegrass, chanting
until light collapses into 
our hands, until wildlife
raises from my fingertips
and we know this is
the end of our running days
               as the melody of a floral lullaby
              ​ bursts from the radio, overpowering
              ​ the motor, the burning oil 
              ​ sirens howling kilometers close,
              ​ hiding the smell of gunpowder
              ​ that claws its way towards our 
              ​ little car.

so you drive us citybound
your nightshade smile, your 
kisses down the back of my hand
your solar-powered heart, 
your warm cruelty 
turned against
the burning asphalt
that trembles in wait
foresees the blood,
the final stand, the glistening 
warmth of our getaway car under vines
as you pour yourself into me 
kiss my hands until 
my fingertips overwhelm
the city               ​ ​ bury us
underneath an impossible new 
wilderness.

Ritual

by Karina Medina

At the height of my forehead
I picked up a coca leaf
i closed my eyes
I looked at mandalas leaves.
In the rite
I took the pain
in my hands
I left it
at the root.
A tear in the soul.
I opened my eyes
like trails
I saw the river running away from me
with a dread of ancestors
those that forced me to speak
in another poem.
I am left alone
without leaves
without mandalas
without roads.

Be Quiet

by Emilio Paz

Silence is a face.
Has a cold look
That penetrates the bones.
Bones that are made of paper:
Weak
Brittle
Easy to burn
Silence is a face of sand.
It melts in the hands of memory.
But it always leaves a mark.
Floral scent trail
That is confused with the stench of cemeteries:
Decomposition accompanied by classical music.
Virgilio watches over Dante’s silence.
Dante consumes Beatriz’s silence.
Beatriz is content with God’s silence.
And God?
Silently on the altar
While the priest preaches.
He preaches that is confused
With what he wanted to say
But that he never tried to say.
Silence that is a drop
That starts a river.
Rio who commits suicide in the sea.
Everything returns to one
Even the words
And silence is an eternal return.

About the Authors

Jorge Alejandro Ccoyllurpuma (b. Cusco, 1987): Poet and literary translator also known as Jorge Alejandro Vargas Prado. He has published poetry, short stories, and a novel. As a Quechua descendant, his creative work explores this ancestral Andean culture and language. 

Photo: Julio del Carpio

Victoria Mallorga Hernandez is a queer Peruvian taurus, poet, and editor. Currently, she is an associate editor at Palette Poetry and an MA candidate in Publishing and Writing at Emerson College. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Revista Lucerna, Plastico, perhappened, Anti-Heroin Chic, Kissing Dynamite, and Thin Air, among others. Across the hemisphere, she moonlights as the chief coordinator of Literature in the Alternative Art Fair (ANTIFIL) and reviews books for La Libretilla, a Hispano-American project. Victoria has published two collections in Spanish, albión (alastor editores, 2019) and absolución (2020). Find her on Instagram or Twitter as @cielosraros.

Emilio Paz (b. Lima, 1990) is a teacher of philosophy and religion, and a graduate of the Universidad Católica Sedes Sapientiae. He is the author of Septiembre en el silencio (Club de lectura poética, 2016), La balada de los desterrados ( Ángeles del Papel Editores, 2019) and Laberinto en versos (La tortuga ecuestre, n°394, 2018). He is the winner of the Marco Antonio Corcuera Foundation competition and the ninth international competition “El Parnaso del Nuevo Mundo” in the short story category. He has been published in various media in Peru, Mexico, Chile, Spain, Venezuela, USA, Argentina, India, Ecuador, Romania, Costa Rica, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria and France. His work has been translated into Romanian, French, Italian, Bulgarian, Uzbek, English and Tamil. He has participated in many international as well as national speaking engagements. He teaches philosophy and conducts poetry workshops. He has also published works on the relationship between poetry, aesthetics and education. He has participated in many international philosophical conferences.

Photo: Mike Paredes

Karina Joelly Medina Paico (Lima PERÚ – 1986) : Teacher, writer and editor. She studied at the Higher University of Applied Sciences (Advertising) and is currently studying Art Education at the National School of Dramatic Art. She has participated in certified dramaturgy, poetry and theater workshops dictated by the Cultural Center Spain. She has been published in the anthologies Dew of Poems (2017), Spring Verses (2017), Crystal Verses (2018) and Poetic Love (2019) of the Peruvian Society of Poets; as well as in the poetry collections The Danger of Being Alive (2018), Beside the Road (2019) and The sea doesn’t stop (2019). Her own published collections of poems are Pavo real (Ediciones Marginales – 2019) and Eterna estación (Pléyades Ediciones – 2021. She has worked as a copyreader and editor from a very young age. She is the editorial director at Pléyades Ediciones, her own company. Nowadays Karina Medina works as a researcher and compiler of Peruvian poetry. In 2021 she presented her Coral Collection project, which consists of four books of poems written by young and consecrated poets, Peruvian and Latin American. The first published Volume 1 is Ultimísima Young Poetry – 21 Peruvian female poets. Volume 2, Ultimísima Young Poetry – 21 Peruvian male poets, will be published this coming September. The other two volumes will be published in 2022.

Photo: Biblioteca Abraham Valdelomar

A Peruvian Autumn

I Keep Hosted in my Memory

Elí Urbina

I keep hosted in my memory
the placid image of the body of love.
Light must come again,
but now, in reality, only the rain
drapes the avenue as black birdseed.

Look at the slow descent of
meat’s thorn into the secret wound.
The brothel, its greed, absorbs my burnt-out soul,
my hope, thirsting of feeling,
for an instant, the deaf crackle.

In the gloom the prostitute dances 
with the sinuosity of a broad flare.
Already the longing gathers around in the mirror,
the shadow of my hand lengthens.

As strong as the pleasure burns
always her face inside me ignites.

From The Abyss of Men (2020)
Transl. into English: Sofía Leibovich

a view of an island city through a window
Photo by Leo Arslan

Opening an Old Fayad Jamís Notebook on Friday Afternoon

Julio Barco

In the winter of the summer I describe my eyes, I
the labyrinthine animal that still dreams
          opening the notebooks
between the divided rooms the score of life.

Old lovers buy
           dry bread in the cellars.

This poem starts here.
Foolish way of repeating the body;

This is the poem
Nothing but a shaky line that is
dream verse.

As the city sinks into depression
I separate signs and petals.

I am the one who watches over your name.
I am the one who observes
                                from your window the neighborhood
barely illuminated by the sunset poles.
The most beautiful youngsters are thrown
                                    of the Electric Towers.
The most beautiful young
               are launched from the Electric Towers?

My long hair is now a fucking form of
              walk against the wind.

Sailor of pampas, land, asphalt, poultry.
Girls commit suicide in their rooms
Yesterday everything was excessively sad
Everything will repeat itself or bifurcate the same
It doesn’t matter: I started another poem and came back
the same:

1. Inert object shakily disposed
                     on the table.
2. Street closed as destruction and desire.
3. Movement of machines & bodies.
4. This poem will begin when everything explodes.
5.Our bodies collapse.
6. We organize a concert in a body predisposed to joy
to correct this. Good.

                                 We will walk again.
I am the same one who drew
                  centuries ago in your womb
                                  A brilliant labyrinth of a thousand Sunflowers.
We repeat ourselves in the constellations.
                                  My fruit flavor intoxicated your hair.

***

A piece of jazz hissing through your body.
Everything changes and sprouts and multiplies.

The poems we repeat now are emptiness
Nothingness – a lilac flower.
Something mystically recognisable
when we are absence
looking behind the windows?
The beatniks have died
And Gary Snyder walks
The lonely mountains.
I walk the night.
You send your poems to other countries.
Reading the poem
leads to an understanding of its nature.
Nothing personal.
My poetic voice mutated in the neighborhoods
where we prepare lentils
And we boiled our sorrows
My poetic self is born
Sad blue lilac full of clouds
That the celery did not diminish
And so we love each other
Ambulances roam the city
Between Oscillations and Digital Semblance
In fornice
Of the silenced bodies
in the only concert that we give
At the time
in the only possible movement.
The Concert of our open green clear eyes
To the absolute mystery
To the burned factories and to the land
Did the young people jump from the Electric Tower today?
And we are And we run
And it’s cold in this damn city
That is my poetic art: our savage
Hungry,
the wind shaking your face.
Vague. Way.
I’m listening. I observe.
I am all this crazy movie where
Verb is beauty and lucidity a body
Looking for another.
I look for you.
This way of mine to flee is to pronounce your
Name.
The clarity of a dinner
well prepared.
Sometimes rooms or verses
Sometimes Stefan Joyce or Li Po
While we were cutting a tomato
Cool as the diagonal that
runs through my body when I touch yours.
When in yours I go back to mine
I recognize myself as a void between multiplication and clay.
When I hiss your name
In the mist of hearts.
This is my time.
Oh streets, I’m so sorry to come back
To live everything again
The poem will be a frozen room
The poem will be two bodies
The poem will be some dark images that I
I gently release between
The Axials of Terror and Glory.
The poem will be a path through the fire.
The poem will be a star.
The poem will be a way of feeling abstracted: a state in the crowd.
The poem will be the image of a man looking at the glass from a window.
The poem will be my hand looking for yours.
The poem is an angel about my loneliness.
The poem is a lost shoe.
The poem is your body
The poem is your mouth.
The poem is my destiny
Party in unrest.
Saturday without you.
We disappeared in the restless dawn
That you smashed in a can
of beer.
The body of the poem silently longed for
when we were two crazy teenagers
Seeking to satisfy our abysses
Oh Lima take me away from Minor Silt
Of the stars multiplied in my Phallus
Relatively common sentimental conversation
Facing the Centuries
Repeating the maze of the body
Labyrinth that I silently observed inside myself
Within others,
Within the total Other that is the Orb
And my mind opening between the cracks
Of the days / Smoke from the streets black prayer of the tuna
We will always long for the same poem
That perfectly leads us to ourselves
Labyrinth within Our Music
Music that croaked within our circumference
And I have rewritten our life:
Saturday or Friday night landscape
Looking for love on the long hard streets and
All the asphalt was the lost crevice of your face
We woke up looking for a ceviche in Puente Piedra
I still make love to you as the year closes with
Some rum in the room
10 lucas is all I have in my bank account
And I walk alone &
The poem
               it’s a mind game within our intensity
The poem
               It is the safe conduct to our temporality
The poem
                  is the concert of our honesty
The poem
                  it’s the concert of our decade
The poem
                  it’s your body, Antonio, Mara, streets, Miguel,
Ovid, Malaga, Omar, Agamemnon
The poem
                 between roses and glasses clothes and perspiration
From the fire of colours falling on
Your belly: wildfire, beauty, landscape, poem, theorem
Of chaos, fire, bodies that I deliciously
I became my alchemy. Eyelids
From the crazy city where I dance or play dreaming
This bouquet of wet roses that ended
Being my voice and my body, passion that is chaos
In mind awake where I slide
To know your eyes: what is
The Literary Work? What are your methods
In the garúa of faces and symbols
In the semen of infinities, what is reality? Ah, damn summer, you bastard
In the boredom of bitter girls
And I decided it embroidered on my hair a long
Grimace, a long beat of bitter flowers.
The speed of my rhythm. And here we start
This new notebook to protect my eyes
Of the folly of a world that is more deplorable every day.
And behind were the bodies that I silently loved
And behind, my house and the light from the windows, and the
Terrible affection that nobody knew how to give. And here,
In the showcase of loneliness, among the gardens of boredom,
I repeat your body virulently, I long
I rise, kiss, lunge, dream, I light up your voice
Intensely the voracity of our bodies.
And despair gave me this world that I
I turned on with the clarity of my mind. And now I do not bathe and I walk alone,
Disturbed between streets and hermit smiles.
And poetry was something that we tirelessly repeated:
Streets, bodies, pieces of a ballad that I placed in your eyes,
Insomnia, verses by Borges or Gelman, a ballad
De Manzanero while he was looking for the ideal epigraph
To simply show my intensity.
Chasing the writing was the verse itself.
The verse itself mutates into the plurality of I’s.
Perfection is not enough for me, I do not want the absolute.
Abstract thinking as an aphorism translated from English
To French, To Spanish
That simply reveals the chaos of a polished mind
As Kavafis thought
As I knocked on your door and you opened a quiet page
By M. Proust. I think we have nothing else left.
Except buying old editions of Verástegui
Find a volume of Eminescu to use his verses
As an epigraph
Walk, Walk, Breathe, Burn
Live it, inhabit it like a strange fire that haunts it.
Sing it, cry it, we inhabited the verse like a summer
Open with shorts and fear of going out on the streets
That was the saddest month.
I only want my little room where I dream verses
Or streets or landscapes that are necessarily another matter.
Another matter to describe the course of your mind
Inside silently sad computers.
And my sadness is miles of verses
That one day I will dream for you while
I miss you between the rooftops and loneliness, loneliness
And cats opening black garbage bags
Black tears of my still raging loneliness
Turned into a little hymn landing on the wings
Of the Lepidoptera. And it’s true, I’m depressed
Or sad or with a thousand rebellious sunflowers inside my eyelids
And my eyelids are all my crazy mind full of I’s
That, as Julio Herrera points out in metric verse,
It is the shuddering Me before the mud of the dough.
The Shocked Epoch tenderly overwhelming your sex.
And you shine so brilliantly.
Oh party, Lima is my crude city and my country
Lima is a luminous melody growing happily
and my crude way of walking and watching and scratching my music
Two young men haunted by hatred searching
A small room to love each other.
And yes, I am a boy and I love you, and I will shut up when you
Naked and I undress and we are this country
Open, shattered, cracked like your lips.
And that’s why I wrote this poem and started another
Within the same axial axis of your mouth.
Not this one, pick and choose in thickness
Of meaning the most. And what difference does it make to have
Been the fire if today we are but two
Silent truths. So far from love I speak
So far from faded feelings
That I reject my voice from another year, my loneliness
Now written between papers and cutlery
And this need to walk or stroll quietly
By rooms. I stared at a fly
That flew above volume two of the Work
Complete by Neruda. And I opened that little book of Fayad, the Cuban, Jamís. Days of getting bored and immediately writing the seizure
And convulsion is thousands of streets or pains. And all my power
It is to fix my eyes on you now that you are sobbing between
Your memories: streets, houses, shattered country, April
It’s the most stupid month, you know, you have to work
To pay for the receipts, electricity, streets, songs
And I also remember that we slept in the eye
Of a newly pregnant mother.

fashion photography of woman hands on chin with glitter makeup
Photo by 3Motional Studio

Face

Walter Velasquez

Seeing the glow of your beauty
What does your beauty contemplate
Accompanied by your nature
And freshness

It is your face that amazes me
Quiet and distracted
Leaving my eyes blind
And my body turned off

Frankly I don’t know if this will be art
Oh no if it’s art, oh I don’t know if it’s art
But I can’t deny what it is
Brighter than ever
Have been seen
Oh blazing, oh blazing

About the Authors

Elí Urbina (b. Chimbote, Perú, 1989) is licensed in Letters and has a Master’s degree in University Teaching and Pedagogic Research. He has published the poetry collections: “La sal de las hienas” – The salt of the hyenas (Plectro Editores, 2017) and “El abismo del hombre”- The abyss of men (Buenos Aires Poetry, 2020). His poetry has been translated into Greek, Serbian, Macedonian, French, Italian and English. He is the founder and director of the poetry magazine Santa Rabia.

Julio César Barco Avalos (b. Lima, 1991) is the author of the books Me da pena que la gente grow (Arteidea Editores, 2012), Breathe (La Chimba Editores-2018-Writers Guild Award), Vastísima Architecture (Editora Huachumera-2019-Huauco de Oro Award), Arder (grammar of the dandelions) (Editorial Higuerilla-2019), The music of my head Vol. 7 (Language Peru -Editors) In 2019, he presented Semen (music for young lovers) (Language Peru – Editors). He is the founder and director of the TAJO group. In 2020 he published four books during lockdown: Des(c)ierto (Metaliteratura, Argentina 2020), the re-edition of Semen (Metaliteratura, 2020) and two volumes in Colombia: Operating System (SO, 2020) and Copy, cut, paste, load (Obra Abierta, Colombia, 2020). He is currently Editor of Literalgia and Lima Gris and Manager of the Poético Río Hablador Cultural Project (which develops poetry projects in El Agustino) and directs the website Lenguajeperu.pe, which is a new national blog of Peruvian and Latin American poetry and art. He obtained an honorable mention in the XI Young Poet of Peru contest (2020) with the poetry book Semilla Cósmica.

Walter Alexis Velasquez Mendoza is 24 years old. He is a journalism student at the Antonio Ruiz de Montoya University. He has been involved in literary activity since he was twenty years old, where he made his first poetic presentation at the Oral Poetry Slam, at the Reporteros Infiltra2 collective. He has participated in national anthologies such as “El Dolor de la Tinta” (Editorial El Verso Azul); “El Mar No Cesa” (Editorial Ángeles del Papel); “Al Lado del Camino” (Marginal Editions), among others. His writing has appeared in both national and international magazines. Previously, he worked in the Federation of Journalists of Peru, in the Diario La Verdad Municipal and the literary magazine Buensalvaje. He is currently an editor and reporter for the digital portal La Cuarta Noticias.

Like an Old Movie by Mircea Dan Duta

Translated by Natalie Nera

I’m sitting at Ginger Mary’s, a railway station pub in Ostrava. The place feels as industrial as the rest of this North Moravian city. A beer to say goodbye. An empty pint on my table. A pretty young blonde is sitting at the table in front of me. The femininity of her existence – her unreal blue eyes, her angelic face, her firm round breasts, her beautiful sexy legs, her narrow waist, her delicate knees, her thin ankles and elegant pumps, paired with the incomprehensible city of Ostrava… I am staring knowingly, urgently, and in vain. She doesn’t notice me at all. In fact, she doesn’t move at all, as if she were dead. Yes, I know she’s not dead, because that’s what I understand about Ostrava, that there are no dead blondes sitting around with a beer at Ginger Mary’s. But that doesn’t matter anymore, does it?

But what did I get from Ostrava this year?

A month (just a crescent) of authors’ readings, in which I was originally supposed to moderate thirty events, but in the end there were only fourteen of them.

A well-known poet promised to attend all of them, though he ended up attending only four.

I was invited to another illustrious reading, where, as the – would-be – main guest, I was supposed to read five poems, and in the end I barely read one.

A beautiful Slovak photography student, with whom I fell incurably in love, and vanished from the Ginger Mary’s together with two bright young classmates, without paying their bill.

The pissed-off publican who didn’t want to understand that I wasn’t really the father of those students, so I didn’t have to cover their bill.  The police officer finally solved everything by making me pay for his dinner in addition to their beers, liquor shots and plates of stew.

Futile dreams of promoting my poetry, if not in the Czech Republic, Moravia, Silesia or Ostrava, then at least at the Ginger Mary’s and at the Absinthe Club, and if not at the club, then at least at Les.

No beer at Dvanáctka, which is a theatre space.

A bottle of local liquor – Becherovka – gifted by the festival director, which doesn’t fit in my luggage, so I have to sip it in secret here at the Ginger Mary’s, or on the fourth platform at the Ostrava’s Central Station before my train leaves.

Two bus rides in full sobriety, to Brno to attend some conferences, followed by three drunken train rides back to Ostrava.

(I have never found the unshaven conductors on Czech Railways prettier and more seductive).

Seventy-two draught Ostravar beers, which I paid for out of my own pocket, and another thirty-six, which I would have been entitled to for free had I learned in time that as a festival participant I also enjoyed certain benefits, not just obligations.

The hands of the long-broken wall clock in my room, still showing three hours and twenty minutes of in all likelihood our era, as still as my empty pint here at the Ginger Mary’s and as still as the pretty young blonde at the table in front of me. I down the Director’s bottle of Becherovka. This year, like the years before, Ostrava didn’t show me any panties. My train’s on time. I won’t make it anyway. I don’t give a damn about them. Or him. And everything. I’m slowly falling asleep. Here in Ostrava at the Ginger Mary’s.

… to magically wake up at the Dragon bar in Brno.

A pretty, unapproachable blonde is at the table in front of me. She’s typing on her phone and smiling stupidly at the screen.

Next to me, a fat guy in a business suit. His cell phone keeps ringing, but he doesn’t answer.

The waitress is chatting with the bartender, they haven’t taken an order in half an hour.

There’s an empty pint glass on my table. Loneliness in Brno. In the old movie with the same title, they were just dealing with boredom.

I don’t know how they managed to bring me the first beer and cutlery. I’d like to cut my veins with the knife, which would solve everything, of course, but I don’t know how the fork would fit into the equation, let alone a spoon and tea spoon. And so, I hesitate over whether to stab myself in the wrist, throat or liver with the knife, and whether this would be better achieved with the fork, spoon or tea spoon, or just feebly with my own bare hands.

I look around once more. Certainly no one will teach me. The blonde is typing on her cell phone, the fat guy’s cell phone is ringing constantly and unnecessarily, the glass in front of me is still empty, the waitress is still chatting with the bartender – it’s getting unbearable. Just take the knife in your hand and then there will be a solution.

All of a sudden, the blonde giggles charmingly – you know, I’ve never heard such a charming and seductive laugh before; she spreads her beautiful legs like wings – spontaneously, unexpectedly, abundantly and willingly, oh man, as I enjoy the sight of her modern, transparent and immaculate white miniature panties, the fat man at the next table finally takes the last of these urgent calls, oh man, what a pleasant and willing corporatist voice, the waitress and bartender appear at my table, what would you like, sir, oh, man, how nice and helpful they are, oh well, I know what to do, life is worth living, the void around me can be filled after all, so I’m ordering another beer.

About the Author

Mircea Dan Duta (b. 27 May 1967, Bucharest) is a poet, a film historian, critic,  researcher and academic (he holds a PhD in the subject), translator (Czech, Slovak, Polish, Romanian, French and English), and writer who has chosen to express himself in another language – Czech. He has also produced and organised many literary events in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania. As editor, he works for Levure Littéraire (France, USA, Germany), A Too Powerful World (Serbia), Alephi (India) and Quest (Montenegro).

His poetry collections include: Landscapes, Flights and Dictations, Tin quotes, inferiority complexes and human rights (2014/2015, Petr Štengl Editions, Prague), Plíz sujčov jor mobajl foun senťu / Pliiz suiciof ior mobail faun senchiu (Next Page Editions, Bucharest, 2020, bilingual Czech-Romanian anthology). Examples of his academic work are: Narrator, Author & God (Charles University Press, Prague, 2009), The Holocaust in Czech, Slovak and Polish Literature & Cinema (ibid., 2007), The Czech & Slovak Film New Wave in the Social, Political and Cultural Context of the 60s of the 20th Century (Jozef Škvorecký Literary Academy Press, Prague, 2008) – last two titles are collective works.

His literary works have been translated into many languages and published in many countries: Britain, France, the USA, Serbia, Poland, Spain, India, Montenegro, Albania, Egypt, Syria, Korea and Kosovo. His poems have appeared in numerous international anthologies of contemporary literature – in the USA, UK, Mongolia, Spain, Czech Republic, South-Africa, India, Indonesia, Romania, Moldova.

Poetry of Peru: Melancholy and Power

Do you know any Peruvian author? No? You may be surprised to discover that the revered world writer and Nobel Prize in Literature Winner Mario Vargos Llosa is Peruvian. It is far too easy to place all Spanish writing literati from South America in the generic brackets of Latino writers without recognizing the unique and distinctive styles, voices and points of view they represent.

Yet, because of history, there are also similarities between countries of Latin America, dividing literature roughly into colonial period, modernism and contemporary literature, so typical for the region. Names of Peruvian poets such as Sebastián Bondy, José Maria Arguedas, José Santos Chocano and Martín Adán go back to the period of establishing national tradition and self-determination.

Having said that, we cannot and should not overlook specific historical developments of Peru as well as significant linguistic influence of the language spoken by the original inhabitants of the country, Quechua. From that, a strong traditional lineage of oral and lyrical literature has grown, and the voice of Peruvian authors rings loudly not only through the continent but through the whole world, echoes of which one may appreciate in the latest offerings of contemporary poetry of Peru.

We hope you are going to be as excited as we are when you read a small taster of its youngest poetry. The sadness, blue mood, even depression is paired with a surprising strength, daring to say the way things are, without being opaque, or nebulous. The surprising views and turns of the language are gripping and awe-inspiring. Even more baffling element of the poetry you are going to enjoy this autumn, is the ability of these poets to merge powerful narratives with lyricism.

In September, we are publishing poems by three men, Eli Urbina, Walter Velazquez, Julio Barco. In October, we are offering two formidable feminine voices of Karina Medina and Victoria Mallorga, complemented by philosophical and introspective perspectives of Jorge Ccoyllurpuma and Emilio Paz who is also our guest editor for this autumn’s translation feature. And finally in November, you will be able to enjoy mesmerizing verses of Lourdes Aparicion, Valeria Chauvel, Filonilo Catalina, and Willy Gomez.

We hope that this will add to the artistic flow and communication we want to encourage and facilitate as bridges, not walls spark human creativity and understanding.

Natalie Nera

Czech Poetry Spring





In our last instalment, we introduce Czech authors who were born in 1940s and 1950s and thus spent a large part of their lives in an undemocratic regime. They represent poets that do not normally get selected for translation by academics or editors although Tomáš Míka who translates his own work, has been published and known internationally. He moves in multi-lingual cultural spaces with ease and inhabits them with irresistible charm. However, there are many reasons for the lack of representation in translation: behind the Iron Curtain, post Jaroslav Seifert & Nobel Prize for Literature, and with enormous success of Miroslav Holub in English, hunger for Czech poets rapidly decreased. Moreover, over the years it has been overshadowed by the proximity of the bigger, and thus more significant Poland.

And there is the issue of translation itself. Jiří Dědeček is a singer and songwriter as well as outstanding translator of many French texts into Czech. His poems reveal that musicality, and with rhymes, so natural in Czech, pose a difficulty in other types of languages, namely English (and I have tried my best to do his text justice). Jiří Žáček is incredibly popular and even those who do not read poetry and do not know any other poet, know his name. His poems are recited to toddlers by their mothers, school children find his texts in their reading books. However, his easy and playful rhymes, self-deprecating sense of humour do not travel well. Moreover, at present rhymes are sneared upon in Czech poetry, as one unnamed editor of a prestigious literary periodical explained to me, We don’t do rhymes anymore, that is not how you are supposed to write. This rejection of rhyme in contemporary poetry is even more surprising because a rhyme in Czech is as natural as is iambic pentameter in English.

And then there are poets who made their names in other parts of creative industry. Daniela Fischerová is famous as a scriptwriter, playwright and prose writer both for children and adults. She was also a close associate of president Václav Havel, another playwright who had made his name worldwide before leaving his mark in Czech history and politics in the 1990s. On the other hand, Olga Walló is a true legend of translation, radio, TV and film, admired by many, even worshipped.

Olga Nytrová represents a stream of Czech poetic output that gets rarely noticed or mentioned even locally – she is a spiritual and philosophical writer who uses verse as a medium of expressing and unpicking her understanding of the world and universe with a large number of successfully published books.

Natalie Nera (All texts below are translated by me apart from Tomáš Míka, the translation is his own.)





JIŘÍ DĚDEČEK
And the Blues

A Blues
The blues
no blame here
and with you

Your rhythm I hear
lost and dear
losing
myself, adieu

My soul 
turns to dust
and what 
attracts me

to you
are lost
sorrows
of a refugee

Avoiding
the old place
and somehow
have answers

Greeting all
who are disgraced
and prostate
cancers

A blues
The blues
what can I change
the unchanged revivalist

I in you 
With no roots
growing for 
my wreath

My blues
You are like the story about a maid
who
is waiting to be saved,
by the pen that becomes blade

From Pošta shora, 2019 publisher


DANIELA FISCHEROVÁ
Looking Back

Lot’s wife looked back
And at once

Orpheus looked over his shoulder
And at once

I have a contract with my memory
That some videos are not going to be shown anymore
 In return I give up
Names foreign languages and addresses
My memory demands more and more

Perhaps
Right before the end
 I am going to look back
 And in one horrifying glimpse
I will face myself
Like a naked old octopus
That will see herself in the mirror for the first time 

From Potvora mlsná, příběhy, portréty




TOMÁŠ MÍKA
Stripping off
 
I’ve stripped off my thirst while waiting
I'm almost a stranger
as before
back then long ago
deliberately distancing closeness
Only when it's not within reach
I am calm and at the same time I’m not
Only then do I pull my hands out of my pockets
and use them as a welcome
So far, just a picture
not painted yet
And I immediately turn my back on it
and start to run
never to come back
I know I'll find you farthest
from you

xxx

At her wailing wall
he didn't shed a tear
even the wall fell silent
very desirable
but he was unwelcome
with a fishing rod
without a hook

xxx

I tend towards the minimal
closing both my eyes and doors
all other entrances and exits
restricting movement to breathing
Sleep is not coming
but the encounter is drawing near
I know it

Transl. by the author






OLGA NYTROVÁ
Socrates’ glass 

Eyes full of tears
the irritating Prague air
tired bronchial tubes
nasopharynx full of pus

Breathe in again
a clean sip of air
hear the seagulls by the sea
catch the rhythm of the waves
Socrates’ glass
full of red wine
left next to the scented sticks
and the slender candle

Let the words flow
like a tune
their juicy flesh
taking in like paradise fruit from the lost beach.


OLGA WALLÓ

You shouldn’t trust me at all
I can lie but not well

It’s dark outside like in the light well 
An unlikely likening
 
The dark outside with daggers and a spell
And courage badges
Ice melting in the mountains I climb
Every day something happens 
for the last time
 
From Láska k stáru (Love in the Twilight Years)





JIŘÍ ŽÁČEK
Wings

If our ancestors had wings,
they would fly.
But our ancestors were fish 
God knows why.
(Approximately half a billion years ago.)
Perhaps to you, that’s a blow?

Back then, the strangest creatures roamed the seas:
Their eyes of a fish,
Teeth of a fish, 
Fins of a fish, 
A tail of a fish -
their missing-wings – a secret wish.
But evolution supports constant change.
I think of those wings all the time 
And how it’s all arranged.
 
I hope our descendants  
Will really try
And in gazillions of evolutionary days,
Powered only by their arms,
they will reach the sky
The fish will be amazed!
The salamanders will be amazed!
The mammals will be amazed!
And you will be amazed, it’s not just a phase!










 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Jiří Dědeček (b. 1953, Karlovy Vary) is poet, translator, educator, singer-songwriter. He was educated at a specialist secondary school for languages. In 1976 he graduated in librarianship from Prague University and was conscripted to the army, after which he worked in the Prague Language School as an interpreter in French. In 1983 to 1987 JD studied script writing in FAMU (Prague Film Academy).
He started writing in 1974, and his output includes poetry, songs, plays and musicals. “Because the possibilities for publishing any of my work were practically non-existent, I started singing in clubs and theatres. And so for this reason I am mostly known in my country as a folk singer. I see the texts of my songs as the main area of my creativity. The music is simple, but it si there to help convey the thought.” His publications include: Texts (1982), published by the Club of Friends of the Semafor Theatre; What happened in the ZOO (1987), from the children´s publishing house Albatros; The moon over the housing estate (1987); etc… In 1988 his translations of Georges Brassens´songs from the French was published. His recent collection of poems Questionnaire was firts published in Munich, and, after the revolution, in Czech Republic

Daniela Fischerová, b. in 1948 in Prague, is a prominent Czech writer, playwright and script writer as well as an award-winning author for children. For many years, she worked as an editor in a publishing house. In the 1990s, she was one of the close advisors of President Václav Havel. She currently teaches creative writing. More information at https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniela_Fischerov%C3%A1.

Tomáš Míka was born in 1959 in Prague, Czech Republic. His original work includes books of poetry “Nucený výsek” (Destruction of Animals), 2003 and “Deník rychlého člověka” (Journal of a Fast Man), 2007 and “Textové zprávy” (Text Messages), 2016. His book of short stories “Und” was published in 2005. He works as a translator from English, among the authors whose works he translated are Samuel Beckett (Watt), John Bunyan (The Pilgrim’s Progress), James Hogg (Confessions of the Justified Sinner), Jack Black (You Can’t Win). He lives in Prague.

Olga Nytrová (b. in 1949 in Prague) is an academic, philosopher, editor, poet, playwright and writer. She is head of Prague’s Writers’ Society and literary-drama club Dialog na cestě. She also works in clerical service of Czechoslovak Hussite Church. She represents a spiritual brand of Czech poetry. More information at https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olga_Nytrov%C3%A1

Olga Walló was born in 1948 in Prague. She read philosophy at the Charles University and then carved a successful career as film dubbing director, writer and translator of literary texts, including Shakespeare etc. She has always written poetry but started publishing her poetic texts at the age of fifty. She currently lives in a remote cottage in the middle of the deep mountain forest in the Czech Republic but counts among legends of Czech radio, film, television, literature and literary translation.

Jiří Žáček, born in 1945 in Chomutov, is a writer, poet, playwright, translator and author of textbooks for young learners. With accolades of national and internation awards, he is truly a national treasure. His poems are known to generations of children and adults alike, popular for their melodic grasp of Czech language, easy rhymes and wit. More at https://jirizacek.cz/ and https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ji%C5%99%C3%AD_%C5%BD%C3%A1%C4%8Dek