In defense of Alchemy

Richard Body claims to be a great guy. That may be true, but his article on Prague’s expatriate literary community is about as close-minded as Gary Shteyngart’s responses to questions about said community (more on Shteyngart some other time).

Alchemy is an open-performance series, not a club, that takes place on the first and third Monday of every month. It feels like an “expat community in a foreign language city” (I stumbled over that too) because it is an expat community – rather, it is a part of the expatriate community, consisting not only of writers, but also musicians, painters, filmmakers, playwrights, animators, fashion designers, entrepreneurs, promoters, and the list goes on.

“How does a bunch of people get together and lose hope?” asks Body. Perhaps he would have been justified asking this question a few years ago, around the time that the Beefstew open mic was dying. However, to make such a damning statement after attending one open mic in a city he’s just visiting is plain ignorant.

A lot of the people who’ve been performing regularly at Alchemy have improved tremendously over the last year. New talent keeps taking the stage at Tulip, and I am proud to have encouraged a few excellent poets to get over their shyness and share their stuff aloud. Prague is home to many expats who are doing work that thrills and inspires me. Perhaps if Body had stuck around long enough, he’d have seen this for himself.

For more on Alchemy’s history, here’s an article I wrote for Provokator.org.

Jan 21, 10:51 (Filed under: Prague events )

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  1. Patrick,
    You are right to defend Alchemy, it is your project and I would expect nothing less. I respect your desire to encourage writing, music etc in Prague.

    I accept your criticism of my ‘article’ (I wouldn’t have called it one), but with some provisons, and I am sorry that you are upset about what you read. I accept that it may be unfair of me to make a comment about your community having only spent one night there. However, I did talk to other people, I did see, and I did hear. Without sounding sycophantic (Is suspect I will fail), I also appreciated your work, I just couldn’t remember your name at the time I wrote.

    However, I stand by the observation that it seemed to me that a lot of the writing of the performers lacked hope and I am sorry but I am somebody who thrives on hope, moreover I need hope in my life. I didn’t really see it on Monday night.

    As I say, I concede that having only spent a night there, I have a limited right to comment, but hell, I am still entitled to reflect on what I see, right? Prague is a city I instantly loved, and when I do come back, I would look to go back to your group, and maybe have my opinions changed (but maybe you wouldn’t accept me there?).

    I have removed the comment about my wrists. That was too harsh, but I stand by my comments about expat communities as I do have experience of them.

    And with regards to the dogs and Czech people, it was a delight to walk around the city and see the different sizes and personalities of the dogs. Maybe the Brits like their dogs, it just stood out to me in Prague.

    Richard Body
    Richard    Jan 21, 12:08    #
  2. That’s a really nice response Richard, thanks. Don’t worry, you’re more than welcome at Alchemy.

    Cheers,

    Patrick
    Patrick    Jan 21, 12:30    #

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