Ivan Blatný

Poet, son of the writer Lev Blatný (1894-1930). Born in Brno, he spent the first part of his life here – before escaping into exile in 1948. He lived in a house...

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František Halas

Poet, translator and publicist, Brno born, spent his childhood and youth here. He learned the bookseller’s trade from A. Píša and for a brief period (1919–1921)...

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Oldřich Mikulášek

Poet and publicist. Lived in Brno from 1937 until his death, latterly at Mášova street. He is linked to several cultural institutions (the Brno studios of Czechoslovak...

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Jaroslav Seifert

Poet, publicist, memoirist. The first – and so far the only Czech to receive the Nobel prize for Literature. In addition to the lasting popularity he won through...

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Jan Skácel

Poet, writer, editor and translator. Spent most of his life in Brno and is closely linked to a number of Brno cultural institutions (the magazine Host do domu...

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Vít Slíva

Poet and schoolteacher. His connection to Brno dates back to his university days. Apart from one interlude, he has been living to this day at Poděbradova street....

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The place and its poets

Ivan Blatný

Places (in alphabetical order)

Ivan Blatný

1919  –  1990

Poet, son of the writer Lev Blatný (1894-1930). Born in Brno, he spent the first part of his life here – before escaping into exile in 1948. He lived in a house at Obilní trh (‘the Corn Market’), where he was frequently the host of other poets of his generation, who blithely called the house “Hotel Blatný”. For several years he worked at the family’s optics shop in Česká street. His debut came in 1940. He is closely tied to Brno through his works; one entire collection is devoted to the city (Melancholické procházky ‘Melancholy walks’, 1941). The verses of this collection have become legendary, being a paean for the city and much credited with its being discovered as a “poetic” city. In exile, after 1948 he spent time in several psychiatric hospitals, but almost the entire time wrote verse on loose sheets and scraps of paper. He was rediscovered in 1979 (Stará bydliště ‘Old domiciles’); in 1991 his mortal remains were transferred to the Central cemetery in Brno.


The poem and the place


Singing he’s puffing out his meagre avian breast
in the air like a bell, so bright and silver clear;
Singing out village names: Soběšice, with zest
for Brno ’neath to hear.
What did I want to tell you today, for pity’s sake,
that city there below me, in a swoon overcast,
that city there below me, so still not quite awake
covered with smoke and dust, covered with smoke and dust.

                                                      translated by Václav Pinkava

Blatný, Ivan: Hledání přítomného času (Searching for the here and now) [1947], in: Verše 1933-1953 (Verses 1933-1953), ed. Rudolf Havel, Brno: Atlantis 1995, s. 206.


Jiří Trávníček  -   travnicek@ucl.cas.cz
Michal Fránek  -   franek@ucl.cas.cz

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