After a seven-year break, The Prague Revue is back. The journal, which categorizes itself as “Bohemia’s Journal of International Literature,” is a compact little tome, just right for a bohemian life of travel. And if you’re about to set out on a trip, I certainly recommend you take this issue with you. No matter how long the lines at the airport, you’ll never be bored. Produced under the auspices of the Prague Cultural Foundation in the Czech Republic, the journal presents fiction, essays, poetry, drama, and reviews in English (some written in English, others translated from their original languages) from around the world. This issue features work, including a short play and photographs by writers from the US, China, the Czech Republic, Scotland, Belgium, Ireland, England, and Germany.
One of the great pleasures of The Prague Revue is being introduced to writers with whom we are not acquainted. (There are certainly some extremely well known contributors, too, including Ivan Klíma and Alicia Ostriker). One of my favorites this issue is Louis Armand, a Prague resident who is widely published in English, but was unfamiliar to me. His poem, “Oxaca, Oxaca,” is representative of much of the writing here, strong and centered, with powerful first lines and conclusions that matter: “Imagine not suffering,” he begins, and “the longest way around is the shortest way home,” he concludes. Douglas Shields Dix, an American writer who lives in Prague, contributes a cogent, readable essay on “The American Sublime” in poetry and painting, an excerpt from a forthcoming collection of essays. Lucien Zell contributes a lovely suite of quatrains.
The range of tones and styles is worth noting, from the more measured and subdued, to the edgy and raw (most of the fiction). And while subjects and themes treated this issue vary as widely as the tones and moods, the “foreign observer” (expat, bohemian) is a constant: “how do I explain / how I dread / the expression on my motherland’s face,” asks Russian-American poet, Irina Mashinski. “And it’s always the first day of our lives,” begins Jesse Talalba, a Canadian writer who lives in Prague, whose poem is titled, not Canadians, but “Americans.” You can travel broadly and deeply with The Prague Revue without leaving home, though this issue may make you want to.