George Szirtes - Author

About the Author

George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948, and came to England with his family after the 1956 Hungarian uprising. He was educated in England, training as a painter, and has always written in English. In recent years he has worked as a translator of Hungarian literature, producing editions of such writers as Otto Orban, Zsuzsa Rakovszky and gnes Nemes Nagy. He co-edited Bloodaxe's Hungarian anthology The Colonnade of Teeth. His Bloodaxe poetry books are The Budapest File (2000); An English Apocalypse (2001); Reel (2004), winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize; New & Collected Poems (2008) and The Burning of the Books and other poems (2009). Bloodaxe has also published John Sears' critical study Reading George Szirtes (2008). Szirtes lives in Norfolk and teaches at the University of East Anglia.

Featured books by George Szirtes

The Burning of the Books and Other Poems

The Burning of the Books and Other Poems

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/09/2009

The title-poem of George Szirtes' "The Burning of the Books and Other Poems" is the core of this collection of narrative sequences by a writer who came to Britain as a child refugee after the Hungarian Uprising. Book burning is associated with the Nazis' burning of what they considered to be subversive books in 1933, but the practice has a long history, right down to our own day. In this particular case the burning refers to the library of Kien, the scholar, in Elias Canetti's novel "Auto Da Fae". The poems follow and expand from the events of Canetti's book in a variety of forms not previously used by Szirtes. Two further sequences are concerned with history and documentary, one about the discovery of small snippets of film recording the liberation of Penig concentration camp where Szirtes' mother was imprisoned, and another of songs concerning war and documentary photography. There are also prose poems, monologues, a series of canzoni, a group of poems exploring the origins of love in childhood, and another based on the mythical travels of Sir John Mandeville about the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. The book, as a whole, constitutes an exploration of the range and flexibility of a voice attuned to the patterns of history and the way such patterns transform our sense of the present.

Other books by George Szirtes

Thirty Poets Go to the Gym

Thirty Poets Go to the Gym

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/01/2018

Like a Black Bird

Like a Black Bird

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 30/12/2017

This pocket-sized paperback is one of the twenty-four titles published for 2017 Hong Kong International Poetry Nights. The theme of IPHHK2017 is Ancient Enmity . IPNHK is one of the most influential international poetry events in Asia. From 22-26 November 2017, over 20 invited poets from various countries will be in Hong Kong to read their works based on the theme Ancient Enmity. Included in the anthology and box set, these unique works are presented with Chinese and English translations in bilingual or trilingual formats.

Christmas Stocking Five Festive Poems for Children

Christmas Stocking Five Festive Poems for Children

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/10/2017

How to be a Tiger Poems

How to be a Tiger Poems

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/02/2017

The tiger growls, its eyes ablaze, but we too have our tiger ways, we too can pad through the dark wood of the cosmic neighbourhood. Leap with hares, call out to the sun, run with the wind, pull silly faces with monkeys, watch out for the bear in the bathroom and meet a burping princess! A fantastic new collection for younger children from a prize-winning poet. These poems are perfect for curious young minds, ready for adventures.

Mapping the Delta

Mapping the Delta

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/09/2016

The Delta is a densely populated place. Whole countries inhabit it, exercising their powers and authority, presenting their offers of complicity and compliance. Individuals move through the night and come upon themselves in its mirrors. Dreamers and fantasists repopulate its hidden corners: Rimbaud, Bruno Schultz, William Blake, Arthur Schnitzler and the physicist Dennis Gabor lay claim to their own visions of it. Animals gaze at their human companions who gaze back. They try to puzzle each other out, looking to climb into each other's eyes. They court each other, desire their own species, are captivated both by each other's and their own beauty. Life goes on its desultory way, finding itself between creeks and cracks. And occasionally the world does crack open. Planes crash, boats sink, weather changes, floodwaters rise, people vanish on journeys. Anxiety remains: disaster zones persist into old age and death, and into the life, death and resurrection of language itself. At the core of the book is The Yellow Room, a sequence of mirror poems contemplating the Jewishness of the poet's father. The room constricts and glows.The poem breaks up across the page at intervals then reassembles into its mirrors. Many of the poems are formal haiku sequences. They are new parts of a personal Delta. Others are in rhymed and broken stanzas. The Delta has to survive - if it survives at all - on its broken patterns.

Bad Machine

Bad Machine

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/01/2013

The body is the 'bad machine' of George Szirtes' latest book of poems. The sudden death of his elderly father and of his younger friend, the poet Michael Murphy, remind him how machines - sources of energy and delight in their prime - go so easily wrong; and that change in the body is a signal for moving on. But language too is a body. Here, politics, assimilation, desire, creatureliness and the pleasure and loss of the body, mingle in various attenuated forms such as lexicon, canzone, acrostics, mirror poems, postcards, and a series of 'minimenta' after Anselm Kiefer whose love of history as rubble and monument haunts this collection. George Szirtes is one of our most inventive - and constantly reinventing - poets, and Bad Machine shows him developing new themes and new ways of writing in poems which stretch the possibilities of form and question language and its mastery.

In the Land of the Giants Selected Children's Poems

In the Land of the Giants Selected Children's Poems

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/09/2012

Winner of the CLPE Poetry Award George Szirtes' children's poems comprise riddles, mysteries and parables, strange encounters, cautionary tales, and meditations on just about everything under the sun - from the sea's hands to the wind's face. All Szirtes' technical virtuosity is on display, the music, rhyme and cadence fusing together with an Eastern European sensibility to provide a unique collection that will be treasured by all children and not a few adults. This generous new selection displays wit and warm good humour with a hint of the absurd. Also included are a series of translations of children's poems from Hungary including works by Sandor Weoeres and Zoltan Zelk.

Leopard V: An Island of Sound Hungarian Poetry and Fiction before and beyond the Iron Curtain

Leopard V: An Island of Sound Hungarian Poetry and Fiction before and beyond the Iron Curtain

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/04/2011

Published to coincide with the Hungarian Year of Culture (2003-4), this new volume in Harvill's celebrated Leopard series of anthologies comprises a selection of Hungarian prose and poetry from the second half of the twentieth century. Hungarian literature can be characterised as the literature of anxiety. Throughout the 1900s, as Europe's political and social fortunes changed, Hungary's writers reflected on those changes, absorbing and distilling them in work of documentary, poetic or comically grotesque power. This anthology of fiction and poetry begins by setting out some of the major landmarks from the end of the Second World War, then concentrates on the period before, during and after the key date of 1989, when Central Europe was transformed once again. The volume traces that history of change from Marai's wartime diaries, into the Stalinist period with the one-minute novels of Istvan Orkeny, past the paradoxical post-modernist humanism of Peter Esterhazy, and through the haunted waste-tracts of Laszlo Krasznahorkai. On the way, it gathers together the monumental, the mystical, the garrulous and the inward-driven poetries of Janos Pilinszky, Sando Weores, Agnes Nemes Nagy, Gyorgy Petri, Otto Orban and Zsuzsa Rakovszky and many younger writers. This extraordinary journey takes us up to Hungary's return to the European fold, as it moves from the psycho-geographic East towards the longed-for, lost, centre. It celebrates the anxiety, agitation, crying and whispering of the Hungarian literary imagination, posing the question that hangs above the door of the European Community: What is Europe? How do we live in it? And how do we respond to its darkness and its light?

Ten Poems About London

Ten Poems About London

Author: George Szirtes Format: Pamphlet Release Date: 14/02/2011

Fortinbras At the Fishhouses

Fortinbras At the Fishhouses

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/03/2010

In this innovative series of public lectures at Newcastle University, leading contemporary poets speak about the craft and practice of poetry to audiences drawn from both the city and the university. The lectures are then published in book form by Bloodaxe, giving readers everywhere the opportunity to learn what the poets themselves think about their own subject. George Szirtes' three lectures form an arc on the nature of historical knowledge in the poem. 'Our knowledge' says Elizabeth Bishop in 'At the Fishhouses', 'is historical, flowing and flown.' The sea in her poem is so cold it burns hand and tongue, a parodox explored in his first lecture, 'Cold dark deep and absolutely clear: poetic knowledge as uncertainty'. Beginning with this understanding of knowledge, his second lecture, 'Life is Elsewhere: knowing in opposition', shifts to notions of historical responsibility, especially as perceived by poets in the West at the time of the Cold War. Szirtes considers questions of betrayal and fidelity and the role of irony and quietism. In his third lecture, 'Flowing and flown: in the world of superfluous knowledge', Szirtes seeks exemplars and connections in works by George Seferis, Derek Mahon and poets of Eastern Europe from the period immediately before 1989 as well as briefly afterwards, to enquire into the nature of repression, returning to Bishop's story 'In the Village' for its conclusion, where 'The hammer echoes with the icy black sea. Cold, dark deep and absolutely clear' ending with Bishop's affirming cry: 'Oh beautiful sound, strike again!'

The Burning of the Books and Other Poems

The Burning of the Books and Other Poems

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/09/2009

The title-poem of George Szirtes' "The Burning of the Books and Other Poems" is the core of this collection of narrative sequences by a writer who came to Britain as a child refugee after the Hungarian Uprising. Book burning is associated with the Nazis' burning of what they considered to be subversive books in 1933, but the practice has a long history, right down to our own day. In this particular case the burning refers to the library of Kien, the scholar, in Elias Canetti's novel "Auto Da Fae". The poems follow and expand from the events of Canetti's book in a variety of forms not previously used by Szirtes. Two further sequences are concerned with history and documentary, one about the discovery of small snippets of film recording the liberation of Penig concentration camp where Szirtes' mother was imprisoned, and another of songs concerning war and documentary photography. There are also prose poems, monologues, a series of canzoni, a group of poems exploring the origins of love in childhood, and another based on the mythical travels of Sir John Mandeville about the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. The book, as a whole, constitutes an exploration of the range and flexibility of a voice attuned to the patterns of history and the way such patterns transform our sense of the present.

New and Collected Poems

New and Collected Poems

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/11/2008

George Szirtes came to Britain as an eight-year-old refugee after the Hungarian Uprising in 1956. Educated in England, he trained as a painter, and has always written in English. This comprehensive retrospective of his work covers poetry from over a dozen collections written over four decades, with a substantial gathering of new poems. It is published on his 60th birthday at the same time as the first critical study of his work, Reading George Szirtes by John Sears. Haunted by his family's knowledge and experience of war, occupation and the Holocaust, as well as by loss, danger and exile, all of Szirtes' poetry covers universal themes: love, desire and illusion; loyalty and betrayal; history, art and memory; and, humanity and truth. Throughout his work there is a conflict between two states of mind, the possibility of happiness and apprehension of disaster. These are played out especially in his celebrated long poems and extended sequences, The Photographer in Winter , Metro , The Courtyards , An English Apocalypse and Reel , all included here.

Leopard V An Island of Sound

Leopard V An Island of Sound

Author: George Szirtes Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/05/2004

Published to coincide with the Hungarian Year of Culture (2003-4), this new volume in Harvill's celebrated Leopard series of anthologies comprises a selection of Hungarian prose and poetry from the second half of the twentieth century. Hungarian literature can be characterised as the literature of anxiety. Throughout the 1900s, as Europe's political and social fortunes changed, Hungary's writers reflected on those changes, absorbing and distilling them in work of documentary, poetic or comically grotesque power. This anthology of fiction and poetry begins by setting out some of the major landmarks from the end of the Second World War, then concentrates on the period before, during and after the key date of 1989, when Central Europe was transformed once again. The volume traces that history of change from Marai's wartime diaries, into the Stalinist period with the one-minute novels of Istvan Orkeny, past the paradoxical post-modernist humanism of Peter Esterhazy, and through the haunted waste-tracts of Laszlo Krasznahorkai. On the way, it gathers together the monumental, the mystical, the garrulous and the inward-driven poetries of Janos Pilinszky, Sando Weores, Agnes Nemes Nagy, Gyorgy Petri, Otto Orban and Zsuzsa Rakovszky and many younger writers. This extraordinary journey takes us up to Hungary's return to the European fold, as it moves from the psycho-geographic East towards the longed-for, lost, centre. It celebrates the anxiety, agitation, crying and whispering of the Hungarian literary imagination, posing the question that hangs above the door of the European Community: What is Europe? How do we live in it? And how do we respond to its darkness and its light?

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