October 14, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm IST
Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann is delighted to host this event in partnership with Smashing Times, International Centre for the Arts and Equality for the annual Dublin International Arts and Human Rights festival. The event is supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, in association with Dublin City Council.
George Szirtes, award-winning Hungarian writer primarily in the field of poetry, translation and memoir, will be interviewed by Mary Moynihan, writer, director, theatre and filmmaker and Artistic Director of Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality. He will discuss migration, human rights and freedom of expression, and the role of poetry in these challenging times. He will also give a short reading from his work. Csilla Toldy, also Hungarian and also an award winning poet, novelist, translator and film-maker will join the discussion and read from her work.
Tickets are for free but booking is essential here.
George Szirtes was born in Hungary and emigrated to England with his parents — her mother a survivor of concentration and labor camps—after the 1956 Budapest uprising.
Szirtes studied painting at Harrow School of Art and Leeds College of Art and Design. At Leeds he studied with Martin Bell, who encouraged Szirtes as he began to develop his poetic themes: an engaging mix of British individualism and European fluency in myth, fairy tale, and legend. Szirtes’s attention to shape and sound, cultivated through his background in visual art and his bilingual upbringing, quickly led to his successful embrace of formal verse. In an essay in Poetry magazine defending form, Szirtes argues that “rhyme can be unexpected salvation, the paper nurse that somehow, against all the odds, helps us stick the world together while all the time drawing attention to its own fabricated nature.”
His first book, The Slant Door (1979), won the Faber Memorial Prize. Bridge Passages (1991) was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize. Reel (2004) won the T.S. Eliot Prize, and his New and Collected Poems was published by Bloodaxe in 2008.
Szirtes did not return to Hungary until 1984, when he visited on the first of several Arts Council travelling scholarships. He has since translated, edited, and anthologized numerous collections of Hungarian poetry. For his translation work Szirtes has won several awards, including the Déry Prize for Imre Madach’s The Tragedy of Man (1989) and the European Poetry Translation Prize for Zsuzsa Rakovsky’s New Life (1994). His own work has been translated into numerous languages and widely anthologised, including in Penguin’s British Poetry Since 1945.
He is the author of Exercise of Power (2001), a critical study of the artist Ana Maria Pacheco. He co-edited, with Penelope Lively, New Writing 10 (2001). Szirtes has written extensively for radio and is the author of more than a dozen plays, musicals, opera libretti, and oratorios.
Szirtes lives in England with his wife, the painter Clarissa Upchurch, with whom he ran the Starwheel Press. They collaborated on Budapest: Image, Poem, Film (2006). He is a member of the Advisory Panel of the British Center for Literary Translation, and is on the Advisory Board of the Poetry Book Society. He has been a member of the Royal Society of Literature since 1982. www.georgeszirtes.blogspot.com
Csilla Toldy is a writer and translator from Hungary, living in Rostrevor, Co Down. Her publications include various literary magazines in the UK and Ireland, as well as three poetry pamphlets: Red Roots – Orange Sky (2013), The Emigrant Woman’s Tale (2015) and Vertical Montage (2018, Lapwing), and the short story collection, Angel Fur and other stories (Stupor Mundi, 2019). Her novel Bed Table Door, long listed for the Bath Novel award, and winner of the Desmond Elliot Residency explores the idea of political and personal freedom against the backdrop of the Cold War and Thatcher’s England. (Wrecking Ball Press, 2023). Csilla creates film poems as a visual artist. Her award-winning work has been screened at international festivals. In 2020 she was commissioned by the Executive Office of Northern Ireland to create a public artwork, a film poem for Holocaust Memorial Day. Csilla is a Creative Writing tutor with the Open University and a mentor with the Irish Writer’s Centre.
Her film scripts won the Katapult Prize and the Special Prize of the Motion Pictures Association of America as the Hungarian entry to the Hartley-Merrill Prize and they were placed as Drama (Foreign Film) Genre Finalist in the APMFF Screenplay Competition 2015 in New Jersey. The Bloom Mystery her documentary based on Joyce’s Ulysses was screened internationally. Her narrative non-fiction was short listed for the Kingston University Biography Prize and the Fish Memoir Prize. Csilla’s first novel, Bed Table Door was long listed for the Bath Novel Award and is recently with The Wrecking Ball Press.
In 2023 she was the recipient of the Desmond Elliot Residency awarded by the National Centre for Writing.
Mary Moynihan, Writer, Director, Theatre and Film-Maker and Artistic Director, Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Equality
Mary Moynihan, (she/her), MA, is an award-winning writer, director, theatre and film-maker, an interdisciplinary artist and one of Ireland’s most innovative arts and human rights artists creating work to promote the arts, human rights, climate justice, gender equality, diversity and peace.