Sylva Fischerová is one of the most formidable Czech poets of her generation. A distinguished classicist who teaches at Charles University in Prague, she writes poetry with a vivid imagination as well as historical reach, and was first published in English as a young poet by Bloodaxe in 1990.
Her poetry moves in and out of historical events, with an understanding and loving eye on our frailties as well as our corruptive acts, against the backdrop of her commanding sense of space and time, and ‘makes beauty from monsters’. Mixing semantic and sonorous sense, her poems come to life through metamorphosed moments, showing that nothing can be taken literally in a world ‘endowed with sense and meaning’.
‘The best translations are those that don't appear to be translations – these poems are stunning as poems – rippling with metaphor, spontaneous, terse but nuanced. Driven by a restless moral intelligence which never loses urgency, Fischerová’s poems mix hope with irony, showing why the world makes us ache’ – Dennis Schmitz.
'In this dizzyingly original collection, language swings over a chaos that includes both history and the ideas that precariously support it. Fischerová helps us face our own uncertain times by immersing us in a constant rush of metaphorical invention, “wrapping up the world with words / for not to fall”.’ – Martha Collins.
Sylva Fischerová reads three poems
Czech poet Sylva Fischerová reads three poems from The Swing in the Middle of Chaos (Houpačka v hlubinách chaosu) – each poem first in English and then in Czech. The poems are 'Hell, The Soul, Banners', 'The Epigones of Time' and 'Time'. Neil Astley filmed Fischerová in Dublin in March 2010 when she was visiting Dún Laoghaire to read in the DLR Poetry Now Festival. The translations are by Sylva Fischerová and Stuart Friebert.