I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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Bitter Truths

John Minahane
Skryté titulky (Hidden Subtitles), by Mária Ferenčuhová, Drewo a srd, Bratislava, 2003 Princíp neistoty (The Principle of Uncertainty), by Mária Ferenčuhová, Ars poetica, Bratislava, 2008 Korene neba (The Roots of Heaven), by Michal Habaj, Drewo a srd, Bratislava, 2000 Básne pre mŕtvé dievčatá (Poems for Dead Girls), by Michal Habaj, Drewo a srd, Bratislava, 2003 Šport (Sport), by Katarína Kucbelová, Ars poetica, Bratislava, 2006 malé veľké mesto (little big city), by Katarína Kucbelová, Ars poetica, Bratislava, 2008 Strach z utópie (Fear of Utopia), by Peter Macsovszky, HEVI, Bratislava, 1994. Mykať kostlivcami (Making Skeletons Dance), by Peter Macsovszky, Občianske združenie Vlna, Bratislava, 2010 Prvá trilógia: Porno/Kult/Pop (The First Trilogy: Porno/Cult/Pop), by Peter Šulej, Vlna/Drewo a srd, Bratislava, 2010 (orig 1994, 1996, 1998) Koniec modrého obdobia (End of the Blue Period), Peter Šulej, Drewo a srd, Bratislava, 2008 NOSTALGIA I come on my date with a diskette instead of a bouquet. Ah, thanks, you whisper, and your face burns with confession. You are only a cyborg and your love is only a programme, like the blue sky, the Chardonnay 1890, the gulls screeching over the beach, this whole seaside airport. My beige suit and my straw hat betray me. I am the first poet to emerge from the race of cyborgs. The poets I intend to write about here are members of a special generation. They are old enough to have experienced life in the late years of communist Czechoslovakia, but their poetry was published only after Czechoslovakia’s change of regime (1989) and Slovakia’s independence (1993). They are a new breed, and self-consciously so. All of them are marked by West European and American literary and cultural influences, but without being overwhelmed. To my mind, anyhow, their poetry doesn’t begin and end with imitative attitudes and poses: there are signs of original encounters with their time, place and circumstances, which make this Slovak generation uncommonly interesting. So let’s begin with nostalgia. In Ireland some of the leading critics are enemies of this feeling: they consider it noxious, the ragwort of the human spirit, and wherever they see it they set about pulling it up by the roots. But in Slovakia, at the time the above poem was published (2003), the nostalgic theme had been powerfully present in poetry for about half a century. In the tractor-worshipping 1950s it was detected and briefly driven underground, and for some time afterwards it could not be entirely open and explicit; however, in Milan Rúfus’s 1974…

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