Prague Summer Program Staff
Richard Katrovas, Director
Founding director of the Prague Summer Program, Richard Katrovas is the author of eight collections of poetry, among them Dithyrambs (Carnegie Mellon, 1998), Prague Winter (Carnegie Mellon, 2004), Scorpio Rising: Selected Poems (Carnegie Mellon, 2011) and the forthcoming Swastika to Lotus (Carnegie Mellon). He is also the author of a book of short stories, Prague, U.S.A. (Portals, 1997); a memoir, The Republic of Burma Shave (Carnegie Mellon, 2001); a novel, Mystic Pig (Smallmouth, 2001, Oleander, 2008); and the “anecdotal memoir” The Years of Smashing Bricks Carnegie Mellon, 2007). His most recent book is the memoir-in-essays Raising Girls in Bohemia: Meditations of an American Father (Three Room Press, New York: 2014). His poems, essays and stories have appeared widely, and won numerous grants and awards. He was editor for Ten Years After the Velvet Revolution: Voices from the Czech Republic (New Orleans Review, Special Double Issue, Spring, 2000). Katrovas witnessed the Velvet Revolution on a Fulbright in 1989, and has been a resident of Prague with his three daughters and yogini wife for much of each year since. He taught for the University of New Orleans for twenty years, and joined the faculty of Western Michigan University in the fall of 2002.
Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Both I Sailed With Magellan and The Coast of Chicago were New York Times Notable Books, and The Coast of Chicago was a One Book One Chicago selection. Dybek has also published two collections of poetry: Streets in Their Own Ink and Brass Knuckles. His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, and many other magazines, and have been widely anthologized, including work in both Best American Fiction and Best American Poetry. Among Dybek’s numerous awards are a $500,000 2007 MacArthur Fellowship (read more ), a PEN/Malamud Prize “for distinguished achievement in the short story,” a Lannan Award, a Whiting Writers Award, an Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O.Henry Prizes, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University and a member of the permanent faculty for Western Michigan University’s Prague Summer Program.
Robert Eversz is the author of seven novels, including Gypsy Hearts, an expatriate novel set in Prague and Budapest, and given a starred review by Kirkus. His other novels include Shooting Elvis, named best crime novel of the year in the Oslo’s leading daily paper, Aftenposten, and best comic novel in the Manchester Guardian; Killing Paparazzi, which was named among the best books of 2002 by the Washington Post Book World; Digging James Dean, listed as an Editor’s Choice in the Boston Globe and Mystery of the Month by BookPage; and Zero to the Bone, given a starred review by Publisher’s Weekly and listed by January Magazine as one of the best books of 2006. His novels have been translated into 15 languages, including Czech and Slovak. In 2007, he served as the final judge for the AWP Award Series In the Novel, and is currently Writer In Residence at Western Michigan University. He helped found the Prague Summer Writer’s Workshop, now the Prague Summer Program, and has maintained at least part-time residence in Prague since 1992.
Patricia Hampl’s most recent books, The Florist’s Daughter and Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime were on numerous “best” and “year end” lists, including the New York Times “100 Notable Books of the Year.” She first won recognition for A Romantic Education, her memoir about her Czech heritage, awarded a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. This book and subsequent works have established her as an influential figure in the rise of autobiographical writing. She is also the author of two collections of poetry. Her other books include Spillville, a meditation on Antonin Dvorak’s 1893 summer in Iowa, and Virgin Time, about her Catholic upbringing and an inquiry into contemplative life. I Could Tell You Stories was a finalist in the National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction in 2000. Her short fiction, essays, poetry and travel pieces have appeared widely, in such publications as The New Yorker, Paris Review, The American Scholar, Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays. She is a recipient of fellowships from the NEA (in poetry and in prose), the Guggenheim Foundation, and is a MacArthur Fellow. She is Regents Professor of English at the University of Minnesota.
Jaimy Gordon’s first novel was Shamp of the City-Solo (New York: McPherson & Company, 1974; Third Edition, revised, with Afterword by the Author, 1993). In 1975-1977, she was Writer-in-Residence with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. She received her first Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1978 and was on the Literature Grants Screening Panel for the NEA in 1979. During this period she published a book-length narrative poem, The Bend, The Lip, The Kid (New York: Sun, 1978), and a novella, Circumspections from an Equestrian Statue (Providence: Burning Deck, 1979). She was a Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown in 1979-1980, after which she spent one year (1980-1981) as an assistant professor at Stephens College, and joined the faculty of Western Michigan University as an assistant professor in Fall, 1981. She was a Fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, Harvard University, in 1984-85. Her second novel, She Drove Without Stopping, appeared in 1990 (New York: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill), as did her first translation (with Peter Blickle) from the German of Maria Beig, Lost Weddings (New York: Persea Books).
In 1991 she received an Academy-Institute Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, as well as her third Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She became a full professor at Western Michigan in 1992. Her third novel, Bogeywoman, appeared in 1999 and was on the Los Angeles Times Best Books List for 2000. She has been on the Writing Committee for the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown since 1999, and has been a juror for the Fine Arts Work Center Writing Fellowship eight times. Her fiction (along with that of three other American writers) was the subject of an international conference, Imagination Alive Imagine, Symposium sur la literature Americaine contemporaine, at L’Institut Charles V, Université Paris 7, in 2001. Her translation of Maria Beig’s Hermine, an Animal Life appeared from New Issues in 2005. Her short fiction, poems, essays, and translations have appeared in the Colorado Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry International, and many other places, as well as in Best American Short Stories. In 2010, her Lord of Misrule received the National Book Award.
Arnold Johnston lives in Kalamazoo, MI. His plays, and others written in collaboration with his wife, Deborah Ann Percy, have won awards, production, and publication across the country. His poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and translations have appeared widely in literary journals and anthologies. His books include two poetry collections—Sonnets: Signs and Portents and What the Earth Taught Us; The Witching Voice: A Play about Robert Burns; Of Earth and Darkness: The Novels of William Golding; and The Witching Voice: A Novel from the Life of Robert Burns. His translations of Jacques Brel’s songs have appeared in numerous musical revues nationwide (including the acclaimed Chicago productions Jacques Brel: Songs of Love and War and Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night), and are also featured on his CD, Jacques Brel: I’m Here! Commissioned by the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Arnie and Debby’s interactive drama The Night Before Christmas had its highly successful world premiere in December 2012. The New Vic Theatre premiered their chilling comedy, Giving Up the Ghosts, in October, 2013. A performer-singer, Arnie has played many solo concerts and some 100 roles on stage, screen, and radio. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, The Playwrights’ Center, Theatre Communications Group, and the American Literary Translators Association. He was chairman of the English Department (1997-2007) and taught creative writing for many years at Western Michigan University. He is now a full-time writer.
Deborah Ann Percy
Deborah Ann Percy earned the MFA in Creative Writing at Western Michigan University. A book of her short fiction, Cool Front: Stories from Lake Michigan, appeared in 2010 from March Street Press. Her plays, and those written in collaboration with her husband, Arnold Johnston, have won awards, publication, and production nationwide. Their books include their plays Beyond Sex and Rasputin in New York, a collection of their one-acts, Duets: Love Is Strange, and editions (translated with Dona Roşu) of plays by Romanian playwright Hristache Popescu: Night of the Passions, Sons of Cain, and Epilogue. Their edited anthology The Art of the One Act appeared in 2007 from New Issues Press. Since 2003 they have written twenty half-hour radio dramas for broadcast on Kalamazoo’s NPR-affiliate WMUK-FM as part of All Ears Theatre. They’ve adapted and expanded one of their All Ears dramas for the stage, and it appeared in 2013 from Eldridge Publishing as Rumpelstiltskin: The True Hero. From 2009-2012 they were joint Arts and Entertainment columnists for the national quarterly journal Phi Kappa Phi Forum. After a distinguished administrative career in the Kalamazoo Public Schools, Debby is now a full-time writer. Winner of major playwriting grants from the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs and the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, she is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the American Literary Translators Association.
Chuck Rosenthal is the author of ten novels: Loop’s Progress, Experiments With Life and Deaf, Loop’s End (the Loop Trilogy), Elena of the Stars, Jack Kerouac’s Avatar Angel: His Last Novel, My Mistress Humanity, The Heart of Mars, Coyote O’Donohughe’s History of Texas, Ten Thousand Heavens, and the current The Legend of La Diosa. His eleventh novel, You Can Fly, a sequel to the Peter Pan tales, will appear in 2017. He has published two books of Magic Journalism, Are We Not There Yet? Travels in Nepal, North India, and Bhutan and West of Eden: A Life in 21st Century Los Angeles, co-authored a book of poetry, Tomorrow You’ll Be One of Us (sci-fi poems) and a book of flash noir, The Shortest Farewells Are the Best. His memoir, Never Let Me Go, is a best selling book with 1in6.org, a website for men who have been sexually abused as boys. He holds several graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from the University of Utah. He has won or been nominated for numerous national awards and prizes. He teaches narrative writing and theory ant Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He rides his horse, La Femme Nikkita, everyday and lives in Topanga Canyon, Los Angeles.
Gail Wronsky is the author, coauthor, or translator of twelve books of poetry and prose, among them Dying for Beauty (Copper Canyon Press), Poems for Infidels (Red Hen Press), and So Quick Bright Things (What Books Press). Her translation of Alicia Partnoy’s book Fuegos Florales (Flowering Fires) recently won the American Book Prize from Settlement House Press. Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous anthologies including Poets Against War; A Chorus for Peace; Wide Awake: the Poetry of Los Angeles and Beyond; The Black Body; and Coiled Serpent. Her poems and reviews have appeared in journals including Poetry; Boston Review; Antioch Review; Colorado Review; Denver Quarterly; Crazyhorse, Virginia Quarterly Review; Volt; and Pool. Gail has been a Resident Playwright at Sundance Institute and has had plays produced in Washington, DC; Salt Lake City; and Los Angeles. She is a recipient of the Wagenheim Prize, the Golden Lotus Prize (Sikkim, India), and an Artists Fellowship from the California Arts Council. In 2015 she was one of four finalists for the position of Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. She is a member of the Glass Table Arts Collective, has an MFA from the University of Virginia and a PhD from the University of Utah, and teaches creative writing and women’s literature at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Literature and Czech Culture
Petr Bílek received his Ph.D. from Charles University in 1993, and has become one of the bright lights of modern and contemporary Czech literary criticism and theory. The author or editor of five books and scores of articles in English as well as Czech, his inquiries range from issues of narratology to an exploration of the “lyric self” and other concerns related to identity. A professor in Charles University’s Faculty of Arts and the head of the Center of Comparative Literature in its Department of Czech Literature, Bilek has also taught at Brown University. He chose the poets for, and wrote the introduction to, Ten Years After the Velvet Revolution: Voices from the Czech Republic (a Special Double Issue of New Orleans Review, Spring, 2000).
Miloš Čuřík is an independent art consultant, professional tourist guide, art collector, and traveler. He was an influential figure in the Czech alternative art scene during the communist regime. After graduating from the Secondary Technical School of Chemistry, he studied Theory of Culture and Aesthetics at the Philosophical Faculty of the Charles University in Prague. He was managing director of the Jazz and Rock Music Centre in Prague, which he established in 1974, as well as the Labyrinth Multimedia Art Centre and Film Centre and worked as a dramaturg for very influential cultural organization like the Jazz Society. He was behind, among other important events, a memorable Prague concert by Nico, former singer of the Velvet Underground, which made him one of the main characters in the 2017 movie Nico by Sussana Nicchiavelli. His art shows and concerts drew big crowds of young people which led inevitably to him being interrogated and oppressed by the Secret police. His various cultural activities are well documented in many books and magazines.
He started to freelance as a touristic guide in 1979 and founded his own Arts + Music Travel in 1992. In his custom-tailored itineraries he focuses on history, architecture, visual art and music. He has had many notable clients from the fields of music, art, architecture, journalism, literature etc. He was featured, among other programs, on the Discovery Travel Channel in Not Your Average Guide, Samantha Brown´s Passport to Europe-Prague as her host or Conn Jackson´s Get Connected as his host. He contributed to National Geographic Traveler Prague + Czech Republic 2017 with insider tips. He is listed by Travel + Leisure Magazine (April 2011) among the World´s Greatest Tour Guides.
David Kraus was born into a Czech-German Jewish family of holocaust survivors in Prague. He was one of very few Jewish children actively and bravely brought up in the Jewish Community during the 1980’s communist era. He became one of the leading youth activists of the Czech Jewry in the late 1990’s and 2000’s.
David studied at the Lauder School in Prague, then at various universities in Prague, Stockholm and Jerusalem, with a focus on Jewish Studies, Political Science and History of Central Europe. He served as chair of the Czech Union of Jewish Students for over a decade, successfully working with hundreds of young Czech Jews and launching numerous projects, like the Birthright, Stolpersteine, JudaFest, Yom HaShoah, March for Israel or the Moishe House in the Czech Republic.
He is currently a teacher and tour guide based in Prague and runs a successful Jewish-interest tour company. He continues to be active in the Czech Jewish community. See David’s full bio here.
Tomáš Kraus completed a law degree at Charles University in 1979 and worked in Prague’s music industryfor several years. In 1985, Kraus served as the project manager for the Expo 86 World Exhibition sponsored by Art Centrum, the Czech agency for creative artists, and was hired by the agency as assistant to the General Manager. In 1990, the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities asked Kraus to help him revitalize the life of the Czech Jewish community. Kraus has served as the Executive Director of the Federation since 1991. He was in charge of rebuilding the entire communal infrastructure, leading negotiations for the return of Jewish property, and for compensation for Holocaust survivors on a national, as well as on an international, level. Kraus has been teaching for New York University and the Prague Summer Program since 1999. His parents were Holocaust survivors.
Hana Ulmanová is an American studies scholar and translator from English to Czech. She is senior lecturer in American literature at the Charles’ University of Prague. Research interests include contemporary American literature, American Jewish literature, and Southern American literature. She has translated, among others, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Bernard Malamud, and Isaac B. Singer. She is a literary critic for Czech daily newspapers, cultural magazines, and for the Czech Radio (Vltava).
Hana Zahradníková holds a degree in English and Czech literature and linguistics from Charles University, Prague. She has worked as an EFL and CFL teacher, and taught English and Czech at high school. She has translated fiction and poetry of, among others, Michael Ondaatje, J.K. Rowling, Chris Cleave, Geraldine Brooks, and Robert Eversz. Currently she works as an acquiring editor for one of the oldest and biggest Czech independent publishers, Argo.