Jáchym Topol

* 1962

  • "The secret police were going to our school. They came there for me on several occasions and even took me along with them twice. They detained me for 48 hours, and then once again at the social-legal high school. It was fascinating because I got a police stamp as an excuse for missing on school. I really wish I had preserved that. Of course, back then it didn't occur to me. At school, there was an instant division. Most children acted like nothing was happening but the others were excited about having such a brave classmate. The girls liked it and someone from 4.B came to me and gave me an MC with DG307. The older boys were saying to me: 'We'll give you a ticket for Abraxas concert!' In practice, I gained instant reputation. More and more people picked up on it and that detention even with some punches received was worth it."

  • "Václav Havel was a person who presented himself as a respectable, law obiding citizen. He wasn't like me - scared as a rabbit in my conspiracy. When I came to his place - bugged all around - someone was just calling and I can hear him to this day saying: 'Petruška, Jáchym is here! He brought Revolver Revue!' It must have been in the later times because originally, it was called Jednou nohou. But this was Václav - he just spoke about it openly because his strategy was legality. When I get back to our beginnings, Havel was one of the first time I approached. I told him about our magazine and he said: 'Great! Wonderful that you're doing this!' Sorry for that but I even shared some slander about the Vokno magazine which to me seemed 'too underground'. We wanted to be different; we were the intellectuals reading foreign literature; wanting to translate; wanting Revolver to be different. He really liked the project. I recall him giving me about 2 000 CZK in cash which was a lot of money. And we were proud for having his essay publishedd in the very first issue."

  • "I might sound a bit silly now but in my case, it really went this way. Saša [Vondra] saying: 'Let's meet up at Malostranská,' and me going straight to the mountains from there. From his side, this was a bit extreme precaution. For the first time, I went to this meeting in the mountains dressed in my café outfit, which meant a corduroy jacket, corduroy pants, sandals and some sweatshirt - that wasn't much. That must have been the first time. Saša had the information who to meet where in his head. Ludvík Hradilek was a key person there; he was capable in organizing and he was a driver. His role was extremely important because he dropped us off at some point and Saša who studied geography, knew the way. I didn't care at all, I was just a bearer. Ludvík then waited for us at a pre-agreed place."

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    Praha, 11.05.2017

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Jail and pub - the daily bread of a poet

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Jáchym Topol

Jáchym Topol was born on 4 August 1962 as the elder son of the translator Josef Topol. Along with other children of dissidents, he attended a grammar school in Radotín. His models were poets from the Beat Generation, Jack London and Ivan Martin Jirous. He wrote texts for his brother’s band Psí vojáci, which brought about police harassment. Along with his classmates and other young dissidents from Prague’s Malá Strana quarter, he founded the Violit magazine, later renamed to Revolver Revue. He joined Charter 77 and took part in the smuggling of Czech literature to Poland. Ever since, Poland was his favorite country. He frequently attended the local hippie gatherings or just wandered in the nature. He dreamed of making a pilgrimage to the grave of the poet Wojaczek. He also got to know Polish prison in which he ended up several times; be it for smuggling samizdat or just for having long hair. He managed to avoid conscription by getting locked up in a psychiatric hospital. He spent three months there observing patients and their customs, which resembled the ones taking place in prison. After release, he was not only exempt from military service, but even got a pension due to his alleged mental illness, which ensured his living in the years to come. At the beginning of 1989, he visited the US. He initially didn’t have much faith in the November events in spite of which, he reacted flexibly with his samizdat group. He co-founded the so-called Info Service, which had over time transformed into the magazine Respekt. At present, he is the program director of Václav Havel Library and an author of a number of acclaimed books.