Wednesday, 17 March 2010
Gerevich, Karafiáth and Stevie Me
Yesterday was a dash down to the Hungarian Cultural Centre in London for the launch of New Order, an anthology of younger Hungarian poets, those who may be presumed to have come to some sort of maturity after 1989. I edited it fast - almost too fast in the end. The book was supposed to appear in 2009, twenty years after the key year, but though there was a pre-launch, the book was properly out yesterday.
The event was celebrated with the appearance of the two youngest poets in the book, András Gerevich and Orsolya Karafiáth, who are probably the most easily - and crudely - characterised. Gerevich, as one of the very few prominent gay poets in the country, and Karafiáth as - well, I had her in the introduction as a kind of Madonna figure, though Tibor Fischer, who was in the audience, preferred to opt for Lady Gaga. I suspect a trace of Cindy Sherman too, but then none of these comparisons sit absolutely easy.
Such characterisations are generally crude, especially in the case of Gerevich who writes beautifully, clearly, like a man with perfect balance, generally of love, but also childhood. My notes of comparison in kind (I leave stature well out of it - that is for the future to determine) was to Catullus and Cavafy. A short poem:
Letting my cocoa drip into the sea
I watched the sweet brown drops dissolve
in the calm, transparent, salty Adriatic,
then vanish in the space of a moment.
‘Today I’ve reached the age,’
my mother said as we finished breakfast,
‘my own mother was the day she died.’
I dived off a cliff into the water.
Last year I too knew the exact day
(I’d worked it out weeks in advance)
I reached the age my father
was when I was born.
It was a boring weekday, Wednesday,
we sipped morning coffee together in bed,
I felt your stubble when I kissed you,
like the prickly realisation inside me
no-one would upend that sandglass again.
- translated by Christopher Whyte
The characterisation is both more and less of a problem for Karafiáth because she consciously characterises herself. She does glamour, an ironic glamour, but glamour all the same; glamour, multi-media, self-myth and mask. The poems are like poignant song lyrics - quite simple cadence and rhyme, but with a genuine poignancy. But then, she says, the poems on the page are just a fraction of the whole - a band behind her (she founded a punk band), a painter on stage, and various theatrical effects. There are many pictures of her on the web. I wouldn't normally be interested in the look of writers but in her case it is her own clear choice and inextricably, overtly, part of her being.
And much much more, folks. As a reader of her poetry she is quiet and quite shy. Possessor of forty wigs, the one she wore for the event was blonde and curly, faintly Marilyn Monroe. Pale grey dress and nails. Full make-up. Short poem from a sequence:
The sky is scarlet. Or ochre.
It is here to be enjoyed.
Darkness shines on the water.
A demi-semi shade of void.
You know it well. The surging flow.
The clouds as they are floating by.
French blue. Red ochre. Silver.
The scene changing before your eye.
Gasping for air. Jelly-fish.
Waves. Cobalt, aquamarine.
A lake dried up. Cold ashes.
Blueness of the wounded skin.
- translated by Peter Zollman
We don't in fact have anything like her in this country, nobody quite as high-profile. She is one of the best known poets in Hungary. She firmly distances herself from feminism. There are worlds and worlds of irony to be had out there.
This video, borrowed from here, really needs no comment. Steven Gerrard is the man who was charged with assault in a night club that was caught on CCTV. He was the only one the video actually showed hitting the victim. There were three friends of his behind not shown hitting him. Result in a Liverpool court? Gerrard free to leave without a stain on his character, the others charged, pleading guilty.
There is something very peculiar and somehow corrupt going on in Liverpool. I look at the Mascherano assault on the film: no punishment. I look at the Gerrard incident: no punishment. I look at the Ferdidand: three match ban, fair enough. Increased to four matches because Ferdinand appealed, citing the Mascherano precedent. Bad mistake.
I wanted to take this out of the purely football context because I find it shocking and disgraceful and rather worrying. I used to admire Liverpool as a football club and as a city. That admiration has been leaking away for a while.
As for the FA? Forget it.