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Where Everyone Leaves Never to Return

Poetry by Bronislava Volková

Where Everyone Leaves, Never to Return is a captivating collection of poems in which Czech poet Bronislava Volková, a jongleur of contemporary verse, masterfully combines voice and nuance as she saunters through love, loss, mortality, and eternal life. With a sharp wit, her verses render playful catechisms of why “a loving God can make an unloving man “ but they also dive deep into self-discovery, achieving, even if just for an instant, the hard-earned right to a “joyous spirit of inner being.“ Her work is a testament to her life lived in full–a diverse and all-encompassing experience.

Bronislava Volkova traipses her diverse poetic creations from place to place, from tongue to tongue  to survive. She is a vagabond magician of change. She pours sound and meaning between lake and mountain, and they rebound like chanting on a star. Hear the lyrical narration. Hear the profound emotion encased in the experience of the elegant survivor. Her words echo with wisdom and grace, her images stun through a photographer’s sharp lens, and the poetic song never ceases.

— Willis Barnstone, Author of Stickball on 88th Street

The verses of Bronislava Volková are a universe of the soul. They are formable, creating a space where brevity and eternity coexist with metaphysics and a most realistic, genuine, and fully lived life. In order to write like this, a special gift is needed. The poet herself has to become a work of art. If we open, for example, a volume of Walt Whitman and then we turn right away to Bronislava Volková’s verses, we will understand what contemporary poetry is: An extreme laconism and concentration of life, and at the same time, an understatement. A density of speech, with air between the lines.

 —Aleksandr Karpenko – Author of Wind of Wounds



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About the Author

Bronislava Volková is a bilingual poet, semiotician, translator, collagist, essayist, and Professor Emerita at Indiana University, Bloomington, where she was a director of the Czech Program at the Slavic Department for thirty years. She went into exile in 1974, taught at the Universities of Cologne and Marburg, and subsequently at Harvard and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She has published eleven books of existential and metaphysical poetry in Czech and seven bilingual editions illustrated with her own collages. She is also the author of two books on linguistic and literary semiotics: Emotive Signs in Language (John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 1987) and A Feminist’s Semiotic Odyssey through Czech Literature (Edwin Mellen Press, New York, 1997), as well as lead translator and editor (with Clarice Cloutier) of a large anthology of Czech poetry translations, Up the Devil’s Back: A Bilingual Anthology of 20th Century Czech Poetry (Slavica Publishers, Bloomington, 2008). Her newest book is Forms of Exile in Central European Jewish Literature and Thought (Academic Studies Press, Boston, 2021; Czech edition by Pavel Mervart, Prague, 2022). Her poetry has been translated into thirteen languages, six of them as books. Since 2000, she has also been active as a collage artist and director of multimedia poetry performances. She has received a number of international literary and cultural awards and is a member of the Czech and American PEN clubs. She returned to her native country in 2018 and currently lives in Prague.
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Where Everyone Leaves Never to Return – Plamen Press
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