The metro station on Namesti míru – Peace Square – in Prague is the deepest of its kind in the entire European Union. But if you still want something deep after you escape the metro fear not – there just happens to be a poetry jukebox on the square, as you can see in the following video.
You can choose from 20 different current Czech poets, but the schedule seems changeable – last winter there were a lot of American beat poets, such as Bukowski, Ginsberg, Kerouac, Baraka, Ferlinghetti and Burroughs, and then the old guard of Czech poets, the giants of the 20th century, were also present in Nobel prize winner Jaroslav Seifert, Vladimír Holan, Miroslav Holub and others.
This all started with pianos though. Around the Czech Republic you can find a total of fifty pianos and 60 chess tables in public places, often outdoors – and the people behind that initiative, Ondřej Kobza and Michaela Hečková, are also behind the poetry jukeboxes – which are called Poesiomat in Czech.
The one at Námesti míru is the original one – but later Poetry Jukeboxes have been put up in other places in Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Ukraine, Russia and Northern Ireland. But every town can have one, the jukebox-makers are willing to cooperate with any place in the world – and you contact them through this site.
And finally, here’s a random pianist practising on the public piano at the Plzeň train station.
Text and videos: Ásgeir H Ingólfsson