Bohemian rhapsody

Carolyn Harris Zukowski '91Life’s side streets often lead to the most compelling destinations. Carolyn Harris ’91 was a cash-strapped editorial assistant when she visited the Czech Republic in 1993, attracted by the international buzz and the country’s affordability. Her stop in the medieval village of Cesky Krumlov, about 100 miles south of Prague, was meant to last two days. But the brief visit became a lifetime sojourn when she fell in love with the town and with a Canadian artist who had just opened a hostel by the river.

Harris found a job teaching English at a nearby university and moved into the 500-year-old house with Cal Zukowski, whom she soon married. Their hostel business boomed, and the couple purchased and restored two more ancient houses, naming their new hostel Krumlov House. The original hostel is now the home of the Zukowskis and their sons, Aidan (13) and Max (8).

A fairy-tale river town, complete with cobblestone streets and a towering castle, might just be the ideal setting for a writer, and it has certainly inspired Carolyn Harris Zukowski, who studied English and creative writing at Wheaton. In 2008, she decided to merge her love of “words and wanderlust” by creating an online literary journal. The Literary Bohemian, which published its ninth issue in May 2010, features poetry, reviews, travelogues and “postcard prose.”

Zukowski recognized a real need for the publication. “I write a lot of travel-related poetry and prose,” she said, “and I couldn’t find a good market for my type of writing. I knew other people wrote in a similar fashion, so I wanted to create a literary, noncommercial, eye-catching and academically irreverent venue for this type of work.”

As the submission guidelines state, the journal is “the final destination for firstclass, travel-inspired writing that transports the reader, non-stop, to Elsewhere.”

Though its medium is thoroughly modern, the design of The Literary Bohemian radiates retro charm, incorporating nostalgic illustrations and images of yellowed luggage tags and faded ticket stubs.

The site receives 10,000 hits per month and has won numerous design and editorial accolades, including three 2010 “Best of the Web” awards from Dzanc Books, which produces an annual print anthology of web writing.

One of those awards went to poet Sue Standing, professor of English at Wheaton and a contributor to The Literary Bohemian’s premier issue (November 2008). Her poem “Journey: Aigues Mortes” won a Dzanc honor.

“I was really pleased when Carolyn asked me to submit some poems to her journal, and even more pleased when she decided to publish four of my new poems,” said Standing. “Carolyn had long felt like a friend and colleague, but that was a fun turnabout, when she was evaluating my work.”

Standing was the advisor for Zukowski’s senior thesis at Wheaton, a collection of poems called Bodyprints. The two have kept in touch, and they reconnected in 2009 when Standing visited her friend in Cesky Krumlov.

Zukowski discovered Wheaton when, as a high school junior, she took a solo driving tour of northeast colleges. When she stopped at Wheaton, “it was another case of love at first sight,” she said. She bumped into then President Alice Emerson, who gave her a personal tour of the campus.

“That personal approach sold me, and I didn’t bother to apply to any other colleges. I totally loved my Wheaton education,” she said.

In September 2010, The Literary Bohemian will publish an issue devoted to the work of high school, college and graduate students. One of Standing’s students, Keith (“Max”) Enos ’12, helped produce it. Enos served as a summer fellow at the journal—reading submissions, managing the journal’s Facebook and Twitter sites, writing book reviews and more.

“My passion is creative writing, and it’s hard to imagine a better summer experience for a young writer,” says Enos, who is majoring in English with a concentration in writing. His trip to the Czech Republic is his first foray outside of North America. Q