Czechs wax lyrical on National Poetry Day

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Every year on November 16th, culturally minded Czechs mark the birthday of the celebrated Czech poet Karel Hynek Macha, who was born in 1810. Macha's poem "May" is considered the greatest piece of verse to have emerged during the Romantic period in Bohemia. And Thursday also marked National Poetry Day in the Czech Republic. Alena Skodova reports:

A scheme called "Poetry for Passengers" was launched on November 16, 1999. Poems now grace trains and station in the Prague metro, and the project has proved to be very popular with the general public. The first year of Poetry for Passengers featured poems by both living poets and classical favourites. This year, a number of events took place both in and outside Prague to celebrate today's Poetry day; there were readings in unusual places such as the National Technical Museum, Charles University's Education Faculty, the Cafe Imperial and even Tesco hypermarkets in Prague, Brno and Ostrava. One of the performers was British poet Patience Agbabi, the author of two collections of poems. I spoke with her on the eve of the Poetry Day and asked her first what she had brought with her to Prague: "Poetry for Passengers" will continue next year, hopefully spreading to Prague's extensive tram system.