The Balassi Institute Hungarian Cultural Centre London launched its new project Inspired by Hungarian poetry: British poets in conversation with Attila József in celebration of the Hungarian Culture Day on 22 January 2013. To mark this special day, we invited British poets to contribute to our new project with a poem of their own written in response to the poems of the Hungarian poet Attila József (1905-1937).
The original idea of the 'British poets in conversation with Attila József' project came from Tibor Fischer, the internationally renowned British writer of Hungarian origin. The aim of the project is to raise awareness and appreciation of Hungarian poetry among readers in the UK through initiating a poetic conversation between renowned British poets and selected poems of the outstanding Hungarian poet Attila József.
The poets were asked to respond to the poems 'Reménytelenül' (Hopeless), 'Óda' (Ode), 'Kései sirató' (Belated lament), 'A Dunánál' (By the Danube) and 'Karóval jöttél' (You came with a stick) translated into English beautifully by John Bátki, Edwin Morgan, George Szirtes and Peter Zollman. Some poets took other poems for inspiration as well such as 'Mama' (Mother) and 'A város peremén' (On the outskirts).
The present online anthology, published at a Gala reading in London's Danubius Hotel Regents Park on 11 April 2013 – the birthday of Attila József and the National Poetry Day in Hungary – is the product of the poetic conversation between Attila József and sixteen of his counterparts writing in the UK today. The poets included in the anthology are Derek Adams, Polly Clark, Antony Dunn, Jacqueline Gabbitas, George Gömöri, Wayne Holloway-Smith, Ágnes Lehóczky, Tim Liardet, John McAuliffe, John Mole, Clare Pollard, Sam Riviere, Carol Rumens, Fiona Sampson, George Szirtes and Tom Warner.
The Gala reading on 11 April 2013 celebrated the launch of the anthology, Attila József's work and poetry. Jacqueline Gabbitas, George Gömöri, Wayne Holloway-Smith, Ágnes Lehóczky, Clare Pollard, Carol Rumens and George Szirtes read their poems and explained their poetic conversation with Attila József.
George Szirtes introduced all the poets at the reading, while George Gömör talked about the history of translating Attila József's work into English. The special guest of the evening, Peter Zollman read 'Születésnapomra' in his own English translation.
You can see photos of the gala reading on our Facebook page.
You can read the anthology in our ISSUU here: