Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Two poems: G István László and Anna T Szabó

Two poets appearing in the Hungarian bilingual Arc anthology New Order, due out in January.

The Cat

Cats without mice are pointless, no use
to anyone, they guard kings on their deathbeds,
their gaze the farside of the significant moment
willing to help the fresh-from-the egg
bird-shaped mess on the car or the bins
to its death, to spread an infection that is not
a disease but scratches away under the skin
of conscience, to keep sharpening their nails
while feeling an aversion to time, disgusted
that what confronts them, here, in the misted mirror
does not fill it and cannot address them –
because there is no trace of night in those eyes,
which are light without shadow bare as
plain canvas. The true aristocrats are those
who fossick among rotten grapes and tin cans
to discover someone’s jar of cockles
while their whiskers never get dirty
who eat with indifference even when hungry
the way time gazes through trees.

G István László

ISTVÁN LÁSZLÓ GÉHER (pen name: G. István László),
was born in 1972 and is a poet and translator, work-
ing as an Associate Professor of English at the De-
partment of Comparative Literature at the Károli G.
University, Budapest. He holds degrees in Hungar-
ian and English Literature from L. Eötvös Univer-
sity in Budapest. He was a member of the Cambridge
Writer’s Conference, 1999, the International Writ-
ing Programme in Iowa, 2007 and the International
Writers Workshop in Hong Kong, 2008. In 2008 he
gained a three months‘ scholarship in Schloss Soli-
tude, Stuttgart, as a Fellow Writer. His selected po-
ems are to be published in a German-Hungarian bi-
lingual edition in autumn 2009. He has written six
books of poetry, most recently Homokfúga (Fugue of
Sand, 2008).

His translations of Plath, Dickinson, Shake-
speare, Hughes and Yeats have appeared widely in
journals and anthologies. His awards include a fel-
lowship to the International Writers’ House in
Rhodes, The Móricz Grant, an NKA Literary Grant,
The Babits Grant for Translation, the Radnóti and
the Zelk awards for Poetry.

Part 1 from This Day
‘Wherever I lie is your bed’

Imagine this. It was early afternoon
and I was out looking for a new apartment
wondering as I went, what next to do,
while staring vacantly at January stores,
their worn-out goods, their seasonal display
and thought of many things along the way –

suddenly everything vanished:
the tram clattered between the houses, over
the bridge, and instead of broad
vistas of river and road
dense fog hung over invisible water –
I stood astonished.

Fog everywhere: anxiety was a tight
cold sleepless night;
that’s my life I thought and felt it glide
swiftly away but I wasn’t part of the ride;
my life went on without me inside.
I felt it all but saw nothing anywhere
of the rails I was speeding on
safe across the bridge, on water, ground or air,
in the clouds or a plane high above land
with all assurance of reality gone
but for the cold metal barrier in my hand.

Nothing new then for two long minutes, no less.
And anything might happen now I guess.

Anna T. Szabó

ANNA T SZABÓ, poet, writer and translator was born
in Transylvania (Romania) in 1972 and moved to
Hungary in 1987. She studied English and Hun-
garian literature at the University of Budapest and
received her PhD in English Renaissance literature
in 2007. She was 23 when her first volume of poetry
appeared, and received the Petőfi Prize (1996),
founded for promising young poets. She has since
published four more volumes of poetry and has re-
ceived several literary prizes.

She has translated many poems and lyrics, es-
says, novels, drama, radio plays and librettos, and
writes essays, newspaper articles and reviews. She
also worked for the British Council as a co-leader of
a translators’ workshop in Budapest (2000-2004), as
the co-editor of the homepage of the Hungarian Book
Foundation and as a film critic and translator for
the journal Cinema (1997-2007). She is currently the
poetry editor of the literary journal The Hungarian
Quarterly which publishes Hungarian literature and
essays in English.


Poet in Residence said...

I always enjoy poems about cats. And this one I like too. Thanks for putting it up.
Recently I read a lovely spooky poem about cats' eyes changing shape like the moon. Perhaps it was one of yours. I'm reading you, Brodsky and Stevens simultaenously. Confusing but enjoyable.

George S said...

I consider myself in supreme company. Thank you.