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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Places (in alphabetical order)

Zeno Kaprál


Born in Brno; prevented for political reasons from studying at the Philosophical Faculty and started his working life in the Zbrojovka arms factory. Having himself written his own appraisal (and clandestinely endorsed it with the factory seal), he was accepted to study at the far end of the republic, in at the Pedagogical Institute in Karlovy Vary, where he graduated in 1962. In the same year he published his debut book Fences, followed for the next thirty years with only unofficial publications. A short stint as a teacher was followed by two-year military service and none-too-long working in the remedial teaching House of Youth in Bystřice pod Hostýnem. In 1966 Zeno Kaprál returned to Brno, where he took up the post of a clerk in the National Insurance Company (see his collection of reminiscences and marketing texts My insurance company, or, in the landscape of Arcadia, 1998); he worked in this institution until 1996, when he became the company secretary of the Writers’ Association in Brno. Zeno Kaprál was only able to come back to officially publishing his poetic works in 1992, which saw the publication of Reiner’s Collection and Old Texts, New Texts. This was followed by a long run of published collections (e.g. Rosy route, 1994; Dry rorates 2004; Inside out, 2014); a whole range of collections remain in manuscript form.

The author and the places of his/her poems


The poem and the place

Bureau de Change

Brno, my dearest, don’t be so reticent.                      
I do count well, to the last house you’re there.                      
The roof valeurs from your poor casket, spent,                     
the bloodied monthlies’ swabs, now dry past care.

Lapsed is the note you pawned once, promissory,
I leaf through endless years of bare repeats.
The park turned gombeen yellow, by morn’s flurry                     
will rustle wintry through your fingered streets.

Brno, my dearest, you’ll not find Maria,
not at The Lion, Mečová again,
not in my bed;  by time-changed, spring is here.                      
While they dash to Vienna, please remain.

Abide a little, it is getting later,
I’m villain-like, dawn gone, you’re on my lips.
You grow the more as I grow lesser, fainter;                      
At us in wanton shreds our memory rips.

Brno, my dearest, I’m not yours to blather.
Why, rates to come you have but barely guessed
Your value’s in the stakes in mist you gather
where rivers meet, aye floating interest.

                                                                     translated by Václav Pinkava


Kaprál, Zeno: Růžová cesta (Rosy route)Brno, Petrov 1995, p. 68.




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

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