A. Alvarez, Miroslav Holub and Cold War poetry

AlvarezIn 1962, the same year that his anthology The New Poetry was published, A. Alvarez travelled to several countries in Eastern Europe to interview intellectuals and writers for the BBC’s Third Programme. It was one half of a project that took in equivalent figures in the United States, and the interviews and essays were later published as Under Pressure: The writer in society – Eastern Europe and the U.S.A. (1965). This trip marked the beginning of the rise of Eastern European poets in English translation (fiction writers would come a decade later). Alvarez encountered for the first time the poets he would later help to publish in the series of Penguin Modern European Poets, and as early as 1962 their work began to appear in the Observer, where Alvarez was poetry critic and editor. One of the chapters in the book is devoted to Czechoslovakia, and this would prove instrumental in bringing the Czech poet Miroslav Holub to the attention of English-speakers.

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