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Books Published by Plamen Press

News, Events, and Literature in Translation

Karel Kryl Brother, Close the Gate, Will you?

Plamen Press and Sciences has teamed up with the Washington DC Chapter of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences and Baltimore-based Sun King Records, , and a group of international musicians (The Yehla Collective) to record an English version of the legendary song by legendary singer-songwriter and poet Karel Kryl: Bratřícku, zavírej vrátka or Brother, Close the Gate, Will you?. The song is reflective of Kryl’s initial shock, disbelief, and later anger triggered by the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of his country, Czechoslovakia. Karel Kryl was forced into exile in West Germany where he continued to perform and produce songs smuggling them into occupied Czechoslovakia and distributing them through Samizdat. Brother, Close the Gate, Will you? became a symbol of resistance during the 23-year occupation.

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Translations of the Week – Jan Skacel: Wine Taken at its Word

Moravian writer and poet Jan Skácel was born in 1922 in Vnorovy, Czechoslovakia. He studied philosophy at Masaryk University. In 1948 he was the Cultural Editor for the daily Rovnost (Equality) and in 1954 he started work for the literary division of Radio Brno. In 1963 he became the Editor in Chief for the cultural journal Host do domu (Guest in the House) and he remained there until 1969 when the journal was banned during the period of “Normalizaton”.  After his dismissal, his poems could appear only in samizdat or in exile literature. He died in on November 7, 1989 just ten days shy of the Velvet Revolution .

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Translation of the Week – Karel Kryl : Little Brother, Close the gate, will you?

Czech Singer-songwriter icon Karel Kryl was author of many protest songs in which he attacked the absurdity of the Communist regime after the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia. His first album was recorded at home and included songs such as The Angel and Morituri te Salutant. After being forced into exile his later albums were smuggled into his homeland, creating a nationwide underground following. His songs were a vital inspiration for the movement that triggered the Velvet Revolution that ended Communism in Czechoslovakia.

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