[28.4.06] [Andrew Gallix]
The BLATT Fest -- which aims to "counter-act the increasingly boring Prague Book Fair" -- runs from 3-7 May at Cafe Metropole (Anny Letenske 18, P2. All events start at 8pm and are free):
May 3. Launch of Karel Macha's May, translated from the Czech by Marcela Sulak, published by Twisted Spoon Press:
Compared to Byron, Keats, Shelley, and Poe, called Lautreamont's "elder brother" by the Czech Surrealists, Karel Hynek Macha (1810-1836) was the greatest Czech Romantic poet, and arguably the most influential of any poet in the language. May, his epic masterpiece, was published in April 1836, just seven months before his death. Considered the "pearl" of Czech poetry, it is a tale of seduction, revenge, and patricide. A paean as well to his homeland, virtually every Czech student learns to recite the first stanzas of the poem from memory and new editions are still regularly published. The reason for the poem's popularity and longevity is the beauty of its music and its innovative use of language. Scorned at first by the national revivalists of the 19th century for being "un-Czech," he was held up as a "national" poet by later generations, a fate from which the interwar Czech avant-garde, who considered him a precursor, tried to rescue him. As opposed to the other important 19th-century European poets, Macha's work has been largely ignored in English translation. The present volume provides the original Czech text in parallel.
As the kick-off event of the first BLATT Fest, Twisted Spoon has arranged for local poets, hailing from all over the world, to give readings from May in both the original and the translation.
May 4. Slovenian Literature Today: Reading & Talk Show with Brane Mozetic and Jana Putrle Srdic
Why is it that Slovenia, a tiny nation of less than two million inhabitants, also boasts one of the most prolific literary cultures in all of Europe? Tonight, BLATT sits down with Brane Mozetic, Slovenia's most controversial author, and Jana Putrle Srdic, a member of the youngest generation of poets, for a frank discussion on poetics and politics in today's so-called "New Europe."
Brane Mozetic is a poet, writer, translator and editor of a small press. Mozetic has translated a number of French authors (Rimbaud, Genet, Foucault, Maalouf and contemporary poets). He has published ten collections of poems and three fiction books. He edited an anthology of homoerotic poetry of XX. century and an anthology of homoerotic motives in Slovenian literature. His poems are translated into several languages. Recently his selected poems appeared in French and Italian. His latest books in English include Butterflies and Passion.
Jana Putrle Srdic's first book of poems, Kutine (Quinces), was published in 2003 and was well received among critics. Her writings are regularly included in Slovene literary magazines as well as abroad. Her poems have been translated into seven languages and included in two anthologies. Besides translating poetry from English, Russian and Serbian, she also writes film reviews and leads literary readings and conversations. Her poems do not flirt with academic or popular poetics, they rather relate to the charms of independent low-budget art cinema: stories revealed in front of the camera without special effects, accepting those limitations for their essential aesthetics.
May 5. Launch of Bertie Marshall's Berlin Bromley, published by SAF
This revealing memoir by Bertie Marshall, formerly known as "Berlin" in the notorious Bromley Contingent, cuts to the core of the punk sensibility of 1976/77. Combining the outrageous zeitgeist with the lifestyle of scenester and rent boy, Marshall's account bristles with a searing honesty. The Bromley Contingent included Siouxsie Sioux, Steve Severin, Billy Idol, Jordan, and Simon Barker (a.k.a. Prague-based photographer Six.) Marshall is the ideal narrator, taking in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood's SEX shop, the formation of the Sex Pistols, and the gay netherworld of late '70s London. Now, thirty years since his infamous BERLIN BABY'S BONDAGE PARTY, Bertie Marshall has written the post-glam, pre-punk version of The Naked Civil Servant. This punk pioneer will be on hand to read from Berlin Bromley, answer questions, and perhaps even share some revealing stories that didn't make it into the book!
May 6. Launch of Travis Jeppesen's Poems I Wrote While Watching TV, published by BLATT, with illustrations by Jeremiah Palecek.
Travis Jeppesen's debut collection Poems I Wrote While Watching TV is a ruthlessly implosive meditation on the death of language in a media-saturated world. Perfectly complimented by Jeremiah Palecek's sardonic illustrations, Poems I Wrote While Watching TV ponders the mundane and the un-nameable with a highly personal mixture of devastation and humor. Tonight's launch will consist of a brief reading followed by a performance by Palecek's anti-musical outfit, King Vitamin.
May 7. Berlin/Praha: Readings by Gaby Bila-Gunther & Alistair Noon
Gaby Bila-Gunther was born in Romania, raised in Australia, and is currently based in Germany. Her reviews, profiles, and nonfiction articles have appeared in many cultural magazines in Australia, Germany, and England. She self-published her own book of tram tales, Validate & Travel, on a moving tram in Melbourne, Australia in 2000. She has performed spontaneously in many public places, such as launderettes, public toilets, train stations, lifts, and hairdressers. Her poetry has been published on many windows, cans, shopping bags, aprons, and tram shelters in Melbourne. Her spoken word CD, Off the Main, is layered by an echo laden of techno beats, making the words stronger. In Berlin, she's the host of the monthly FUEL reading series at the Hotel Bar.
Alistair Noon's poems have been called restless, engaging, hilarious, mysterious, affecting, gloomy, disruptive, dusty, and intriguing. In the early nineties he co-edited a Berlin-based poetry magazine called Symtex and Grimmer, and has had poems published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and as a chapbook (Ground Detail, with Leo Mellor, Berlin 2002). His first proper collection, Propaganda Window, is currently looking for a publisher. He has read at international festivals in Germany, France, Switzerland and the UK, and been heckled off stage for performing his bizarre sound poems by a Frenchman with a potato installation. Most recently, he coordinated last year's successful Poetry Hearings Festival in Berlin.
(Pic: Travis Jeppesen by Ned Schenck.)