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Jan 22, 2020 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

The Drug of Art: Ivan Blatný at 100

Ivan Blatný is known as one of the most prominent Czech poets of the 20th century. This poetry evening will pay homage to his work through bringing together poets, translators and scholars along with the publishers of the first bilingual edition of Blatný’s work, The Drug of Art.

January 22, 7PM
In the Cinema


The evening, moderated by Alex Zucker, will begin with an introduction about The Drug of Art, published by Ugly Duckling Presse, by the book’s editor, Veronika Tuckerová, which will be followed by:  

Readings of Blatný’s poems by poet and translator Anna Moschkovakis, publisher from Ugly Duckling Presse Matvei Yankelevich and poet and translator Monica de la Torre, accompanied by a projection of selections from Blatný’s work. 

A talk by Slavicist Jose Vergara, author of an extensive study about Blatný.

A moderated discussion with all of the evening’s participants.

Ivan Blatný (b. 1919 – d. 1990)
Ivan Blatný was a Czech poet, member of the artistic Group 42 and son of the writer Lev Blatný. His literary patron was the famous Czech poet Vítězslav Nezval. At school, Blatný was an editor of the Student Magazine, where he won an award for Poem of the Year. Then he studied Czech and German language at Masaryk University’s Faculty of Philosophy in Brno. He also became fluent in Esperanto. In 1940, he published his first collection of poems titled Paní Jitřenka (Mrs. Morning Star), which was followed a year later by the collection Melancholické procházky (Melancholic Walks), which won him a national award. Originally a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, he was sent to London as a delegate of the Syndicate of Czechoslovak writers. While there, he applied for political asylum and never returned home. As a result of this, he was labeled as a traitor by the communist government and his work was banned in Czechoslovakia. He continued publishing in exile, however his health gradually declined and he eventually died of pulmonary emphysema in 1991. His ashes were transported to his native Brno, where a plaque commemorating him and his work was revealed in 1994.

Alex Zucker (moderator)
Alex Zucker’s translations include novels by J. R. Pick, Petra Hůlová, Jáchym Topol, Magdaléna Platzová, Tomáš Zmeškal, Josef Jedlička, Heda Margolius Kovály, Patrik Ouředník, and Miloslava Holubová. He has also translated stories, plays, subtitles, young adult and children’s books, song lyrics, reportages, essays, poems, and an opera. His English versions of Petra Hůlová’s Three Plastic Rooms and Jáchym Topol’s The Devil’s Workshop received Writing in Translation awards from English PEN, and in 2010 he won the National Translation Award for his translation of Petra Hůlová’s debut novel, All This Belongs to Me

Veronika Tuckerová (editor of The Drug of Art)
Veronika Tuckerová grew up in Prague, and earned her PhD at Columbia University in New York. She teaches Czech Studies at Harvard. Her research interest include Czech and German literature, samizdat and dissent, translation theory and practice, visual arts, and museum studies. She has published widely in Czech and international journals. 

Matvei Yankelevich (publisher Ugly Duckling Presse)
Matvei Yankelevich's is a poet and translator. His translations include Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Ardis/Overlook), and (with Eugene Ostashevsky) Alexander Vvedensky's An Invitation for Me to Think (NYRB Poets), which received a National Translation Award. His most recent book of poetry is Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt (Black Square). He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He is a founding editor of Ugly Duckling Presse, where he has curated the Eastern European Poets Series since 2002. He teaches at Columbia University's School of the Arts and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.

José Vergara
José Vergara teaches at Swarthmore College. In addition to his work on Russian experimental prose and James Joyce, he studies and has published on the late poetry of Ivan Blatný. Visiting Assistant Professor, Russian Section of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Swarthmore College.


Photo Credit: Jan Šmarda



Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Jan 22, 2020 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM


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