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Paper Shoes
Pavel Srut; Ema Katrovas, trans.

Carnegie Mellon Poetry in Translation

Carnegie Mellon
2009 • 136 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Poetry / Poetry - European / Czechoslovakia

$17.95 Paperback, 978-0-88748-500-8

A collection of Czech poetry by Pavel rut, and the English translations by Ema Katrovas.

Pavel rut’s fractured lyrics are often themselves fractured parables about the individual’s relation to authority, whether that authority be the state, a colonizing power, the court of public opinion, a dubious beloved, or history itself. In some of his poems, the wives of Great Men have the last, often hilarious, word on their husbands’ accomplishments, and in others a poor Everyman schmuck Novak—the Czech equivalent of Smith, though even more suggestive of ordinariness—bumps his head, again and again, on the iron question mark at the heart of existence.

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Reviews / Endorsements

"Pavel Srut's Paper Shoes, so wondrously translated by Ema Katrovas, creates a world where the self—often in the guise of 'some sort of Novak' (New Man), sometimes as the wife of Homer, Galileo or a host of others, sometimes as Sisyphus, Noah or the like—is reinvented at nearly every line. For Srut it is sometimes 'better to talk about a life that wasn't,' one where the self seems to live a life that is just out of reach, suspended between alternating perspectives, contradictions, and logical disruptions. This is a world where dreams are 'So life-like / he would wake up dead,' where identity can be so tenuous that either 'a Novak / or a bird' might break the silence. The 'quest' that Novak and others here embark on, so essential to our own times, is to find some evidence of humanity even if, like Sisyphus, it is found on a mountain of cigarette ash. For Srut, who has resisted the communist regime of his own country and our own false Eden, 'What remains is the courage / to finally publish / the snake's version of the story,' the story that is the great gift of this great poet's career."—Richard Jackson

"Pavel Šrut is the best poet of his generation. His poems speak the truth of our times and offer hope. Paper Shoes, which is full of youthful joy, has been wonderfully translated into American English by the very young Ema Katrovas. This is a book for which both Czech and American readers should be thankful."—Arnost Lustig

PAVEL RUT was born in 1940 in Prague. By August of 1968, when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, he’d published three collections of verse, and was counted among the “official” poets of the country, a status he resolutely rejected after the invasion. For the next twenty years, his dissident status unambiguous and so his own verse unpublished, he translated Dylan Thomas, D. H. Lawrence, Robert Graves, and Leonard Cohen, among others. During the twenty years rut was silenced as a poet in the official press, he was active in the underground literary-dissemination networks called “samizdat.” Paper Shoes is the first English translation of his work. He lives in Zdice.

Tue, 15 May 2018 13:16:20 -0500