Prague Writers’ Festival Preview
by Stephan Delbos
Michael March and novelist Michael Cunningham
The 21st annual Prague Writers’ Festival begins April 19, bringing such literary luminaries as Derek Walcott, Junot Diaz, Don DeLillo and Saadi Yousef, among others, to Prague, along with Czech writers including Petra Hůlová and Sylva Fischerová. The Prague Post recently sat down with festival director Michael March to talk about this year’s festival and how it is, in March’s words “a peaceful solution to the world’s problems.”
The Prague Post: Has the festival changed much over the years? Do you have a different focus and different goals than you did when you began?
Michael March: The festival hasn’t changed but the audience has certainly changed over the years. We have a large Czech audience and many students – for whom we have a high regard. For example, this year we are offering free tickets to the conversations for students and seniors. This isn’t a new focus, but a more practical approach. In a way, the festival must evoke its identity every year and it must speak again every year as our experience grows deeper. We reflect Heraclitus: At rest through change. We must be conscious of the world and continue to create.
TPP: There are several Greek writers coming to Prague this year as guests of the festival. Was it a conscious decision to focus on this country?
MM: Well you realize that philosophy came to the Western world from Greece, so in a sense we’re going back to the ancient world to reflect on the modern world, to create an image of the modern world. Virtually everyone in the Mediterranean becomes a philosopher. The festival is really a philosophical vessel. As Paul Celan said “The eye is the slave of the image.” And Don DeLillo, for example, understands the dual images of pleasure and torture and shows this in his writing – also the sense that the writer should be seen as a terrorist.