Václav Havel started to write visual poetry at the beginning of the 1960s, and in 1964 he created a collection of these poems titled Antikódy (Anticodes). The majority of his visual poems were created before 1969. In the 1970s and 1980s Havel wrote several new poems. His collection Antikódy was published in 1993 and again in 1999. Since then, new poems have been found. In 2013, Laterna Magika (National Theatre in Prague) performed a play based on Havel’s visual poetry. The same year this poetry was published and presented as an exhibition.
Heiti Talvik, citizen's name Heiti Talviken (1904–1947), was a famous Estonian poet who was mostly active in the interwar period. He was 40 years old when he was arrested in 1945 by the Soviet authorities. He was accused of being a ‘socially undesirable element', and sentenced to five years' deportation to the Tyumen oblast. He did not survive, and died of starvation and exhaustion in 1947.
Nevertheless, Talvik was not forgotten, and later became an iconic literary figure. His legacy was kept by his colleagues and friends. In 1966, many writers from the Estonian Writers Union requested his rehabilitation, after which it was possible to publish his poems posthumously. A collection of his poems was later published in 1968.
The case of Heiti Talvik is important not only as an example of the persecution of cultural figures, but it also shows that such people were often still appreciated by their colleagues, who did not hesitate to restore the dignity of a victim of the repressive regime.
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This monotype by Heldur Viires dates from 1982. It is called Army with Banners. Heldur Viires is well known for his skill at monotypes. They are mostly abstract, colourful, and filled with interesting patterns. This print is a good example of his later work, when he had gained extensive skills in the technique.
On the 28th of October 1983, there evolved a stormy public debate at the Faculty of Law, ELTE Budapest, about the scandalous case of “World in Move” between the official speaker of the event, the Deputy Minister of Cultural Affairs, Dezső Tóth, and the audience of some 600 students and young intellectuals. By that time the chief editor Ferenc Kulin had been replaced for more than a month, and the whole editorial staff of the journal resigned in demonstration, and the Budapest students protested with a large-scale signature collecting action.
The debate, which lasted nearly four hours, was intended to be held as a routine procedural event of the Youth Press Festival. However, due to its enflamed topics, the Hungarian Broadcast of Radio Free Europe in Munich also reported on the program, and the emigre press Irodalmi Újság – Gazette Litteraire Hongrois later on published lengthy details of the recorded speeches. The main issues of the evening were: the misdeeds of censorship, and lack of freedom of press and democracy. The paper sheets of the collected student signatures were passed by Ferenc Langmár to the deputy minister with the noisy ovation of the audience. Among the speakers there were some well-known activists of the Hungarian democratic opposition, like the philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás, who ended his speech by saying: “We do not desire scandal, but liberty!”The editor of “World in Move,” Mária Helle, documented that famous evening with a number of photographs, and the Ministry of Interior did too, preparing a report for the party leadership; a secret document has survived at the Historical Archives of the State Security Services (ÁBTL).
On 22 August 1950, ‘Književne novine’ published a story by Yugoslav writer Branko Ćopić, entitled ‘Jeretičke priče’ [Heretical Tales]. As the title alone suggests, the heresy was to touch on the communist model of government, even through satire. Ćopić targeted his criticism at privileges and the Soviet model of society, which although publicly renounced by the Yugoslav party two years previously, he continued to observe in Yugoslav practice. In the story, which traces a summer day in the life of the privileged ruling class, one criticism follows on the heels of the other: a girl student (a minister’s sister-in-law) drives to the faculty by car, while the deputy minister fantasizes about how marriage could land him a minister’s post and later the job of prime minister. Alongside all of this, the appearance of other figures in the story was also problematic, such as a general and an important personality of whom little is known ‘because he wisely and importantly keeps his silence’, as well as others (R. Petković, 2000, Sudanije Branku Ćopiću [The Show Trial on Branko Ćopić], p. 12–13).
Such a portrayal of Yugoslav society was sufficient to provoke a scandal. Immediately after its publication, a smear campaign was unleashed against Ćopić. The famous writer Skender Kulenović, a good friend of Ćopić’s, accused him of ‘abusing free expression’ in the very next issue of ‘Književne novine’. Others alleged that he was a ‘bourgeois critic’ and was discrediting ‘the tendency of development of our socialist society’ (R. Petković, 2000, p. 20). Thus a wave of criticism was released, culminating in a public declaration by Tito – uncharacteristic for all later cases of the repression of artistic creation in Yugoslavia. At the Third Congress of the Women’s Anti-fascist Front on 29 October 1950, he declared, ‘And what does it mean, when people from a minister, a general and a deputy minister to a shock worker are put into a satire, when it, so to speak, encompasses our whole state leadership and economy. He has taken the whole of society and depicted it from top to bottom as negative (…). We will not permit such a satire and leave it without response. He need not be afraid that we will arrest him for what he has attempted to do. No, we must publicly answer and say once and for all that hostile satire that intends to shatter unity cannot be tolerated among us’ (R. Petković, 2000, p. 23).
Ćopić’s literary legacy, which is kept at SANU, includes the Pismo Veljku [Letter to Veljko] in which Ćopić writes about this case. While he acknowledges that he may have exaggerated in some places, since he wrote the story in a hurry, he considers his course as ‘honourable’ and ‘worthy of a true writer’, and is ‘not ashamed of having taken the path of satire’ (R. Petković, 2000, p. 28). According to a leading Serbian historian, ‘This whole case is significant for the researcher. It illustrates the contradictory nature of the Yugoslav regime with regard to the issue of repression and civil freedom. The existence of informers and their everyday activity is in itself a sign of repression. But on the other hand, the non-existence of serious punishment is an indication of liberalization’ (P. Marković, 1996, Beograd između istoka i zapada [Belgrade between East and West] 1948–1965, p. 178).
Precisely Ćopić is a good example of the dual nature of the Yugoslav system. Thanks to his undoubted revolutionary merit, he succeeded in avoiding more serious repercussions in relation to his personal integrity and writing, though he continued to critically view Yugoslav society through the medium of satire in the following decades.