Scottish poetry comes to Prague

For two weeks this month, the nationwide ‘Den poezie’ or Poetry Day festival took place in roughly 50 towns and cities throughout the Czech Republic. The festival, now in its 24th year, takes place annually around the birthday of the great Czech Romantic poet, Karel Hynek Mácha. This year, there were two events in English – one involving a project where three Scottish poets and three Czech poets translated each other’s work – despite none of the Scottish poets speaking Czech.

Poetry is not everyone’s cup of tea. But the small and diligent group of people involved with organising Poetry Day hope that the festival will promote interest in poetry and share some of its joy among a wider audience. In this vein, all the events that are part of the festival are free.

Poetry Day is not just a day – it’s a two-week event. But its misleading name has its origins in the fact that the first Den poezie took place on just one day in 1999. Year by year, more and more towns and organisations joined in and the length of the festival gradually extended to reach its current two-week duration.

The festival describes itself as international and multicultural – this year, as well as featuring Czech poets, it included authors from Ukraine, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Croatia. And for an English-speaking audience, one of the two English-language events in this year´s Poetry Day festival involved an interesting translation and cultural exchange project between three Czech and three Scottish poets – one of whom writes in Gaelic. The six poets worked together on translating one another’s poetry into their native languages.

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Author: Anna Fodor