A note from the program director, Richard Katrovas:
One may ask why English-language creative writers—poets, fictionists, playwrights, memoirists, essayists—should occupy an ancient city in the heart of Europe for the month of July, a city in a country whose inhabitants speak primarily a beautiful and complex Slavic language that only ten million people on earth can understand.
The answer is the Prague Spring, that period of cultural fecundity preceding the Soviet invasion of August 20, 1968. The Prague Spring was an incredible, though brief, period when the best and brightest of a tiny nation, under the banner of Dubček’s “socialism with a human face,” siphoned the nonviolent, iconoclastic spirit of 60s counterculture to fuel a native movement that eschewed both Soviet and capitalist ideologies and sought to establish a society based upon the intrinsic value of the human spirit. Later, the signatories of Charter 77 embodied that quixotic yet profound goal in the midst of the gray and brutal post-invasion period dubbed “Normalization.”
Creative writing, as an academic rubric, was the product of a radical egalitarianism ushered into academe by that same ethos. The Prague Summer Program for Writers is a celebration of that spirit.
Other reasons why an English-language writer may wish to attend the Prague Summer Program are less lofty, more about individual ambition. Here are three obviously related reasons:
- Some of the most important writers working in the English language have served, and continue to serve as Prague Summer Program mentors.
- Scores of books have been published by writers who’ve attended the Prague Summer Program.
- Hundreds of stories, poems and essays by Prague Summer Program alumni have appeared in the most important journals, magazines and anthologies in the English-speaking world.
This is simply to say that the Prague Summer Program continues to affect, modestly though not insignificantly, both the pedagogy of creative writing dovetailed with culture studies, and English-language literary culture in general.