Judi Sutherland – Cultural Exchange

Cultural Exchange

Milo said it had to be a Pilsner,
dry as a saint’s bones; so we invited
Tomasz, the Czech craft brewer,

who brought yeast through Heathrow in a plastic bag.
We used pale malt, a complicated mash,
Saaz hops (minty, grassy, herbal); ran

a slow fermentation, then we lagered it
cool in the tank for weeks and weeks,
but good things are always worth the wait.

On Tyn, a cobbled street in Prague,
we found a bar, with pavement tables,
where the English stag-night boys argued,

steadily drinking Staropromen;
‘We don’t see the benefit of being European.’
I looked around at the painted gables

of Bohemia’s peaceable heart;
‘Well, for one thing, you’re here.
Drinking this beer.’

When we racked it, we were happier
than a lion with two tails. And the yeast,
a lively souvenir from Wenceslas Square,

thriving within sight of Windsor Castle.
Republika – a Prague Spring on the taste buds,
a Velvet Revolution in tall, cold glasses.




I’ve never posted a poem of my own on The Stare’s Nest before but I thought this would fit the bill rather neatly. It was written after a long weekend in Prague, and spending time as Poet in Residence at the Windsor and Eton Brewery in the summer of 2012.

6 thoughts on “Judi Sutherland – Cultural Exchange

  1. Lovely poem, by which I mean the way it builds, is built, with the interruption in italics as you/we wait… That’s successful. Also the granularity of the details illuminates how the exchange works, the kinds of attention it demands. The bit of dialogue serves several purposes. The playfulness on the metaphorical level — Velvet Revolution!– suggests attitudes and competences required if unity is to be more than an ideological and hegemonical ploy. Just reading the poem closely gives one hope.

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