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:

Family Chronometer

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.


Martin Figura said...

aye aye calm down calm down

George S said...

Is that addressed to the Ms Karafiath part of the post, or the Stevie Me part?

If the second, I don't think it is an issue to be taken with resgined equanimity. There is a developing history here.

puthwuth said...

Roy Keane on 'tackling' Alfe Inge Haaland's cruciate ligament: 'I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you cunt. And don't ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.' Oh, though he did pick up a 3 game ban afterwards.

YNWA (you'll never walk again)

George S said...

Not sure where to begin with that Puthwuth, but let's try:

1) Did you catch me defending Keane? Keane should have got a lot more.

2.) If someone was punished for doing something how is that a reason not to punish someone else for doing something?

3) I said it was fair that Ferdinand should have got three a match ban for what he did - how is that an argument for saying that Mascherano and Gerrard should get nothing for what they did?

4) How long ago was the Roy Keane incident? How long ago was Mascherano, Ferdinand and Gerrard? How far back do we go to find an excuse for doing nothing because once upon a time not enough was done?

5) If we can do that at what point should we stop doing it?

6) Do you think it right that Gerrard should have got off for his assault at the night club?

7) Do you think the night club incident and the Mascherano and Gerrard affairs only concern Manchester United?

8) Do you really think there is nothing wrong with any of this?

9) Would you mind me saying that taking the Keane line is not an argument in this case?

Happy St Patrick's Day by the way.

puthwuth said...

It is the referee's fault. Card them, send them off and they'll stop doing it. Referees don't like giving penalties (or less than about 15 minutes of extra time) at Old Trafford, they appear too in awe of Stevie G to send him off either -- clamp down on all of this, equally. Partisanship doesn't come into it. Keane's gloating is born of just this sense of untouchability. Though as regards Stevie's nightclub fracas, 'I did not see the incident'. And despite this nod to Arsene Wenger, no manager remotely approaches Alex Ferguson for one-eyed -- cock-eyed -- partisanshop. I would advocate fair play for all -- as simple as that.

George S said...

Partisanship doesn't come into it... manager remotely approaches Alex Ferguson for one-eyed -- cock-eyed -- partisanshop

Er... consistency? Who's minding the partisanshop?

Desmond Swords said...
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puthwuth said...

It's a place fans in Belgrade go to buy their replica shirts, evidently.

From my experience of being at a Liverpool-Man U derby, though, Stevie's G elbow in the head seems a lot less unpleasant, if possible, than what gets shouted (from both sides) on the terraces. It is vile stuff. Though the United ironic tribute song to Park Ji Sung eating dogs at least has a bit of wit to it ('though it could be worse, /you could be scouse, /eating rats in your council house.')

Desmond Swords said...
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Desmond Swords said...

Thanks very much George. I got another blogpost for Global Poetry News.

Kevin Sampson's novel Clubland, is the first great work of fiction which faithfully rendered a working class soccer-fuelled culture alluded to in my previous experiment:

'Ged Brennan wouldn’t normally turn down an opportunity to earn more money. He’s got a wife and kids with decidedly upmarket tastes, after all. But he’s also got strong principles. The idea of a decriminalised zone in the heart of clubland--where prostitution and drug use would be tolerated--appals him. Unfortunately, he’s not in the best position to fight a crusade. The council are head-hunting him as the figurehead for their latest scheme. He’s just handed over a string of strip clubs to his wayward--and distinctly warped--cousin Moby. And there’s Marguerite, hot-shot lawyer and Haitian ice-queen. Who, in addition to being the widow of Ged’s dead brother, has very much her own ideas about the future of clubland.

This is a highly original tale of tangled loyalties, set against a backdrop of shifting values. Ged Brennan is a protagonist to rival TV’s Tony Soprano: gentlemanly and coarse, principled yet disarmingly ruthless. His journey through the mean streets of Merseyside is sometimes shocking, sometimes disturbing, always tinged with wit. Read it' - Amazon review

George S said...

Ah, the days of Partizan Belgrade! Their nickname, according to the ultimate authority, Wikipedia, is the 'the gravediggers'. Their number 9 is called Cleo, and their number 25, Washington (both Brazilians of course).

The latter fact makes me wonder whether one could get a complete set of US Presidents, British Prime Ministers, Greek Philosophers, Characters from Shakespeare, or Superheroes from the ranks of the Brazilian FA.


Coolidge; Bush, Carter, Kennedy, Bush; Burr, Obama, Ford, Eisenhower; Wilson, Roosevelt (a rather old fashioned 4-4-2 I admit, and I suppose Roosevelt would have to be substituted at some stage, but I am sure Brazil could provide.)

puthwuth said...

There was a Liverpool player, Souness-era, called Jimmy Carter...

Background Artist said...
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Background Artist said...
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