Paper Shoes

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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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What People Are Saying

Richard Jackson
"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."
Arnost Lustig
"Pavel rut 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."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887485008
  • Publisher: Carnegie-Mellon University Press
  • Publication date: 2/5/2009
  • Series: Carnegie Mellon Poetry in Translation
  • Edition description: Bilingual
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 136
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents

A KIND OF CHILDHOOD
Moon Probe
Parents
Little Son
Parents and Children
The Rocking Horse
The Story of Lust
Titanic
The Story of the First Quest
In the Cinema Time
A Story Full of Chance
Old Schoolmates Examine a Class Photo

A KIND OF ADULTHOOD
Quiet
Self-Portrait in Watercolor
Mirrors
The Progeny of Icarus
Another Story of the Great Quest
Novak the Avenger
No Metaphor
Venus
Threnody for Shoes

A KIND OF DREAM
We're So Alone
Sisyphus
Under the Apple Tree
Enough
Story of an Eclipse
Noah: A Quiz
For a Moment
King of Child's Play
Story of the Great Sumac Tree
Story of the Last Quest
Story of the Last Quest II
Eden
The Ending Story

SAMIZDAT SAMPLER
Stalin's Monument: Snapshot from 1956
The End of a Poet
Zizkov Evenings
Sweet Normalization
The Right to an Asylum •Beerspective
On the Run
Breathing Exercises
The Law of Archimedes
That
Adam's Wife
The Wife of Sysiphus Remembers
The Plaints of Homer's Wife
The Wife of Demosthenes Speaks in Anger
Galileo's Wife
The Rocking Horse
And You Won't Ask?
Fear
Time

TRANSLATOR'S NOTES

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