The Czech Republic’s magical capital city has a small but vibrant English-language literary scene. If you’re planning on visiting the City of a Hundred Spires and you have an interest in poetry and prose, the following recommendations should help you tap into the best that Prague has to offer.
1) Pick up The Prague Post
The Czech Republic’s only English-language newspaper has a dubious reputation in hard news circles, but the “Night & Day” arts and culture insert contains the most comprehensive listing of music, theatre, cinema and other live performances available in the city at any given time.
2) Attend Alchemy
Since 2002, this open-mic and performance series has been a nexus of literary and cultural activity in the expat community in Prague. Typically held on the first Monday of each month, Alchemy’s formula involves a featured poet or performer, followed by a sign-up open-mic for aspiring and established poets, singers and storytellers. Alchemy is currently held at Napa Bar and Art Gallery in Prague 1.
3) Read in Advance
If you need a refresher regarding the recent history of English-language poetry in Prague, pick up a copy of The Return of Kral Majales: Prague’s Literary Renaissance 1990-2010 (published by Charles University/Litteraria Pragensia, and edited by local lit legend Louis Armand). Also worth reading for travelers headed to the city is a poetry collection entitled From a Terrace in Prague (also published by Litteraria Pragensia, and edited by Stephan Delbos), which features 120 poems written in or about Prague by international poets from 1888 to the present.
4) Drink in the Prague Writers’ Festival
One of the most exciting literary festivals in Europe, the Prague Writers’ Festival has been bringing world-class writers and intellectuals to Prague every spring since 1991. Thanks to organizer Michael March’s efforts, some of the biggest names in literature have made appearances at the festival. The following are just a few of the most famous: Margaret Atwood, Nadine Gordimer, Arundhati Roy, Yann Martel, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, John Banville, William Styron, Jeffrey Eugenides, Richard Ford and Michael Cunningham.