A Stay in a Sanatorium


A Stay in a Sanatorium by Zbyněk Hejda
Translated from the Czech by Bernard O’Donoghue

Southword Editions, 2005, 64 pages
ISBN: 978-1-905002-05-4


Zbyněk Hejda is among the select Czech authors and poets who were banned from publishing in their homeland during the Communist era. As one commentator has said, “his poems have little hope in them and display no socialist optimism”. If there is little hope in his work, there is yet much humour and tenderness. Dreams, erotica, the pain of aging and nostalgia for the dead are frequent subject matter in this selection of translations, rendered into affecting English by the award-winning Irish poet Bernard O’Donoghue.

“O’Donoghue has rendered Zbyněk Hejda’s A Stay in a Sanatorium with particular grace.” – The Irish Book Review

“As Tomas Mik wrote 12 years ago, Hejda is ‘one of the most important Czech poets’. It’s a great pleasure to see him brought, at least in part, to the English-speaking world.” – The Guardian

“Zbyněk Hejda, translated by Bernard O’Donoghue, is indeed a voice out of the grand tradition of central European poetics. Hejda is playful and profound, narrative yet focused, and his evocative ‘slant’ diction is nevertheless plainly truth-telling. Poetry with this kind of courage is real poetry with structure and range, and O’Donoghue renders it with a clear, untroubled surface through which that range makes itself apparent.” – The Irish Times