The Czechoslovak Connection: Spies, Translators, and African-American Poets in Cold War Prague
September 15 @ 9:30 am - 10:30 am
In 1950, the U.S. Communist Abraham Chapman, his wife, and two daughters boarded a train at Grand Central Station in New York City. They started a journey that would take them beyond the Iron Curtain. This journey involved forged papers, hidden identities – and African-American poetry as Chapman put together a poetry anthology of the Black diaspora, Black Poetry (1958), during his time in Czechoslovakia. But there were other contacts during that time. Figures such as the African-American poet Langston Hughes corresponded with their Czechoslovak fans and translators, giving advice on translation, and forging unexpected allegiances between Black writers and their Czechoslovak mediators. This presentation from Dr. Františka Schormová of the University of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic, explores these contacts and allegiances, uncovering hidden internationalist solidarities and forgotten stories of the early Cold War period, and the role Prague and other Czechoslovak cities played in them. This event is part of MSSU’s Czech Semester. Free and open to the public.