Česká centra, Czech Centres

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Dec 4, 2010 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Magor for Kids

The poet, essayist and culture organizer Ivan M. Jirous wrote the book of beautiful poems for children in the 1980s in the Valdice prison where he was sent for political reasons. For the author, the poems meant the only connection with his two little daughters and with the world of human feelings in general. Today the book belongs to the classics of Czech children’s literature. Its recent edition is with the illustrations of the author’s daughter Marta.

Reading is in Czech and English. For ages 10+

Ivan Martin Jirou - Poetry reading for children

Ivan Martin Jirous (born September 23, 1944) is a Czech poet, best known for being the artistic director of the Czech psychedelic rock group The Plastic People of the Universe and later one of organizers of Czech underground during the communist regime. He is also known more frequently as Magor, which can be roughly translated as "loony" or "blockhead" and is supposedly derived from "phantasmagoria", author of this nickname is "experimental" poet Eugen Brikcius. His wife, Věra Jirousová, wrote a good number of the Plastics' early lyrics.

Trained as an art historian but unable to work as such under the Communist regime in then Czechoslovakia, Magor/Jirous was a member of the dissident subculture there. His particular contribution to Czech dissidence was his work on the concept of the "Parallel Polis," or "Second Culture." Magor believed that simply expressing oneself through art could ultimately undermine the totalitarian system: if enough artists, journalists, and musicians were to simply keep practicing their arts without giving in to the pressures of socialist realism, eventually a critical mass of people, all living in truth, would inspire the rest of the populace to see the totalitarian system for the flimsy front it really was.

In a sense, this is what happened. It is certainly true that the Charter 77 movement, a group of dissidents which had first coalesced around the Plastics and Magor when they had gone on trial in 1976, ended up supplanting the communist government by popular appeal in 1989.

In a sense, if only a sense, the Plastics and Magor thus inspired the Velvet Revolution.




Dec 4, 2010 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM


Czech Centre

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