In Prague recently, I had some conversations about what living in the Czech Republic is like nowadays for women, for unemployed people and for Romany gypsies. I am grateful to Bernie Higgins, Louis Armand and Vincent Farnsworth for their information and insights. Vincent provided me with a couple of web sites (in English) that publish reports of some of the many problems, especially in relation to the Romany community :
Aktualne : Czech News    and    Romea : Romanies

                                 Romany Music Festival in Prague, 2008

               A Romany house in Vitkov that was attacked by arsonists on April 18th.                     Three members of a Romany family, including a two-year old girl,
                    were badly burned.

"Enough is Enough" demonstrations are planned to occur across the Czech Republic on 3rd May 2009


Meanwhile, this week back at the Sydney theory ranch, John Hawke’s book Australian Literature & the Symbolist Movement will be launched by Jacket magazine editor and poet John Tranter.

The promotional text says :

Australian literature was never all billabongs and stockmen.

Ahead of other English speaking cultures, Australia absorbed the Symbolist message freshly worked out in Paris-initially in Brennan's Bulletin pieces of the 1890s. Symbolism introduced a metaphysical, intellectual strand throughout the 20th century, visible in the work of Kenneth Slessor, Judith Wright and Patrick White, and in the reactions of Hope and McAuley.

John Hawke follows this rich and complex tradition into recent poetry; he compares the impact of Vitalism, promoted by Norman Lindsay and manifest in such poets as Slessor, Francis Webb and Douglas Stewart.

His book also investigates fascinating dialogues involving P.R. Stephensen, Jack Lindsay, A.R. Chisholm, Randolph Hughes and others, and the extremist views which grew for some of them out of their positions on the Symbolist aesthetic.

This reappraisal of literary tradition shows the landscape of Australian writing in a completely new light.

John Hawke is a Senior Lecturer in English at Monash University. He completed doctoral studies at the University of Sydney, where he received the University Medal and the Dame Leonie Kramer Prize. (not that Dame Leonie [one of Barry Humphries' greatest characters] had any personal involvement in the award choice). Between 1997 and 2006 John taught literary theory at the University of Wollongong. He is also a widely published poet.

6pm Thursday 30th April
49 Glebe Point Rd,
Glebe, Sydney
RSVP: 9660 2333


Minding mice at a crossroads: Mike, Jill, Phil, David, Louis, Annette, Maurice, Mary, Pam on the way to Brno

Trevor Joyce has put his photos (including the above) from last week's Czech Poetry Micro-Festival: Prague & Brno up on the web - to view the pics, that include photos from every reading, click here

Here is one of my photos of Trevor at the reading at Sklenena louka in Brno on April 16th :

The festival organiser, Louis Armand, has posted photos tracing the progression of the poetry events on Facebook here.

Louis Armand, after the last reading at Shakespeare & Sons, enjoying a glass of smooth South Australian red provided by Dianne Cornell, the Australian consul.

I'll be posting more on Prague, Kutná Hora and Brno soon.


ahoj from praha

            A person looks at a work of art called 'Relief' by Jan Fisar
               in the Czech National Gallery in Prague

                                                                        (Foto by Michael Farrell)



I’m off to Prague to read poems and check out the Czechs, nashledanou, ahoj!