With additional translations by David Young, Dana Hábová, Rebekah Bloyd and Miroslav Holub
Miroslav Holub was the Czech Republic’s most important poet, and also one of her leading immunologists. His fantastical and witty poems give a scientist’s bemused view of human folly and other life on the planet. Mixing myth, history and folktale with science and philosophy, his plainly written, sceptical poems are surreal mini-dramas often pivoting on paradoxes.
Poems Before & After covers thirty years of his poetry. Before are his poems from the fifties and sixties, poems written before the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia: first published in English in his Penguin Selected Poems (1967) and in Bloodaxe's The Fly (1987), with some additional poems. After are translations of his later poetry, all written after 1968, including not only those from his two Bloodaxe editions, On the Contrary (1984) and Supposed to Fly (1996), but also the entire texts of two late collections published by Faber, Vanishing Lung Syndrome (1990) and The Rampage (1997).
‘A laying bare of things, not so much the skull beneath the skin, more the brain beneath the skull; the shape of relationships, politics, history; the rhythms of affections and disaffection; the ebb and flow of faith, hope, violence, art’ – Seamus Heaney
'Miroslav Holub is one of the half dozen most important poets writing anywhere’ – Ted Hughes
‘One of the sanest voices of our time’ – A. Alvarez
‘He is a magnificent, astringent genius and this volume sings with an oblique and cutting candour, a tubular coolness we must praise again and again’ – Tom Paulin