Miroslav Holub is a scientist by vocation and considers his poetry a pastime. Holub told Stephen Stepanchev in a New Leader interview that the Czech Writers Union had offered him a stipend equivalent to his salary as a research scientist to enable him to devote two years to his poetry. "But I like science," he said. "Anyway, I'm afraid that, if I had all the time in the world to write my poems, I would write nothing at all."
Holub told Stepanchev that, for him, science and poetry enjoy an "uneasy relationship." "In scientific circles," he said, "I try to hide the fact that I write verse. Scientists tend to be suspicious of poets; they feel that poets are, somehow, irresponsible." And he admitted that his profession was similarly held suspect by his literary friends. But Holub sees no real conflict between science and poetry. As a scientist, he says, he believes in "an objective reality" and hates superstition. But, he adds, "I'm open-minded about all the phenomena of experience, including the irrational." In his introduction to Selected Poems, A. Alvarez points out that the "source of Holub's strength is his subtle, critical acceptance of the realities as they are, his refusal either to shut things out or to praise them simply because, like Everest, they are there. His poetry is based finally on an unsentimental, probing, compassionate, witty sense of the modern world."
Holub often employs scientific metaphors in his poems, a technique that, although he considers it "a risk," allows him to "find poetic equivalents for the new reality of the micro-world." Holub told Stepanchev that one of the reasons he uses metaphors at all is "to avoid the aridities of rationalism." "The other reason," he adds, "is that I like the play or dance of metaphors, just as I like the play of ideas in a poem. My poems, by the way, always begin with an idea, an obsessive idea of some sort. . . . I try to achieve effects of suspense with my long lines and tremendous emphases with my short ones."
Holub read his poems in 1965 at the Spoleto Festival, Italy, in 1967 at the YMHA Poetry Center in New York under the auspices of the Lincoln Center Festival, in 1968 at the Harrogate Festival, England, in 1974 at Poetry International, Rotterdam, Holland, in 1975 at the Cambridge Poetry Festival, Cambridge, England, and in 1981 at the International Poetry Festival, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Holub speaks English, French, and German.