David Howard says he is delighted that he has been accepted as New Zealand’s first writer in residence in the Czech capital.
“I have a long-standing interest in Prague, having written and published the verse drama ‘The Carrion Flower’ – which narrates the assassination of prominent Nazi Reinhard Heydrich by Czech partisans in Prague – and I enjoy an ongoing working relationship with the prominent Prague composer Marta Jiráčková, who scored my long poem ‘There You Go’ for mezzosoprano, reciter and piano trio.”Once he arrives in Prague for his two month residency in March David plans to further collaborate with Marta Jiráčková, to begin a series of dramatic monologues on the controversial Otago-Prague figure, Ian Milner. Milner, who grew up in Otago and had a close association with Otago poet Charles Brasch, became an Australian diplomat at the United Nations but came under suspicion of spying. In 1950-51 he relocated to Prague, having secured a lectureship at Charles University. With the opening in 1996 of relevant files in the Czech archives evidence, it emerged that he had worked for Czechoslovakian security while at the United Nations and at Charles University.
Milner’s ethical challenges, together with his childhood in Otago and his old age in the Czech Republic, will allow David to explore the strengths and limits of idealism in a set of monologues that mix the private and the public.
“I believe the work will provide multiple access points for New Zealanders and Czechs to connect with,” he says.Dunedin City of Literature Bid Coordinator Liz Knowles says the residency is exciting because it highlights the opportunities that are arising for talented writers like David as a result of Dunedin gaining UNESCO City of Literature status.
“We are super excited for David and absolutely delighted he has been offered this very special UNESCO Creative City opportunity, courtesy of Prague. David will be a perfect ambassador for Dunedin and further enhance the partnership between our two Cities.”