PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Alberto Manguel Selbstgefühl New poems by Fleur Adcock, Claudine Toutoungi and Tuesday Shannon James Campbell A Walk through the Times Literary Supplement
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
PN Review New Issue

This report is taken from PN Review 133, Volume 26 Number 5, May - June 2000.

Letter from Slovakia James Sutherland-Smith

This year I've moved into my second decade in Slovakia working in a variety of educational jobs for the British Council. I'm now ensconced in the grandest office I've ever had in my life in Jakabov Palac in Kosice. This is a turreted building of neo-gothic design dating from 1903, five minutes walk from the station and overhanging an underpass which skirts the medieval boundaries of the city. There is a plaque on the wall outside commemorating the fact that the palace was President Benes' first presidential seat after liberation by the Russians in 1945. I take more delight in the fact that the building was originally owned by a brewing magnate who lost it in a card game and that it can be translated as 'James' Palace'. My office is lit by a central, small, brass chandelier suspended from an impossibly high ceiling. Unfortunately, I've been far too busy to write a poem there and besides my line manager wouldn't like it.

One of my current projects is trying to promote Creative Writing in the teaching of English in Slovak schools and, I hope, in other countries in the region. The teaching of literature in schools in Slovakia is retarded by a combination of dry philological practice and a lack of interest. For example, before 1989 contemporary poets could rely on their books being bought by a national library fund and the more established poets could collect their works in editions called My Favourite Poems which ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image