DURING A NIGHT STORM
perjury of lightning bolts:
a fish spine rises from the trenches of the wound-up day,
how many times before has the night spat its white birds,
have we moved steel towers over the fields’ majolica—
now we stand here, facing the phenomena of altitude
as if touching me
with the silverware of a thought of death
the word negative turns ugly on wan lips
the phantom of an airship fades in a broken window—
I am made eternal
STANISLAV DVORSKÝ (July 14, 1940 — February 21, 2020) is only now, with the benefit of hindsight, beginning to be recognized as one of the most distinctive voices of the generation of Czech poets who entered the scene at the start of the 1960s. It was not unusual for his poems to be printed several decades after they had been written, as Dvorský made no concessions and maintained a poetic “inflexibility,” so that even after 1989 he only published sporadically. He was part of the surrealist movement, yet at the same time he contributed greatly towards the destruction of rigid surrealist conventions. Together with Milan Nápravník, Dvorský discovered unexpectedly value in semi-conscious fumbling and confused babbling, with the result that he transformed even the most trivial matters and events into something surprisingly unfamiliar and difficult to name. This is especially true of his large poem Koleje (Tracks, 1961-1963) and the cycle of texts Hra na ohradu (A Play for the Enclosure, written from 1962 to 1966). His later poems, in particular from the collection Oblast ticha (A Silent Area, 2006), appear to be more subtle, but they still draw on various aspects of language and human experience. Stanislav Dvorský also played jazz piano (Traditional Jazz Studio), designed record sleeves and magazines, curated exhibitions and edited literary works. He was also interested in psychoanalysis and wrote theoretical studies, such as Nevědomí a básnický objev (The Unconscious and Poetic Discovery, 2016).
— Bio written by Czech poet Jaromír Typlt, February 28, 2020
About the Translator:
ONDŘEJ PAZDÍREK is a Czech-American writer and translator. He is the winner of the 2017 Beacon Street Prize in poetry from Redivider. His work has been nominated for the Bettering American Poetry and Pushcart Prize anthologies. His poems and translations have appeared in Guernica, PANK, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Southern Humanities Review, and The Stockholm Review, among others. He lives in Iowa City.