A child refugee from Hungary in 1956, George Szirtes lives in the UK and published his first book of poems, The Slant Door, in 1979. It won the Faber Prize. He has published many since then, his collection, Reel, winning the T S Eliot Prize in 2004 for which he has been twice shortlisted since. His latest book is Fresh Out of the Sky (Bloodaxe 2021). Beside his English prizes he has been awarded various international ones for his own poetry and for his translations of Hungarian poetry and fiction, including The European Poetry Translation Prize, the Best Translated Book Prize in the USA and the Man Booker International Translation Prize for his work on the novels of László Krasznahorkai. His second book for children, In the Land of the Giants won the CLPE Prize for the best book of poems for children in 2012. He has written reviews and articles for major newspapers, programmes for the BBC and has edited a variety of books. His recent work with composers and performers includes poems for The Voice Project and the carol set by Richard Causton for the BBC broadcast Service of Carols at King’s College Chapel in 2015. His memoir of his mother, The Photographer at Sixteen, was awarded the James Tait Black Prize for Biography in 2020.
Literature & Memory
This still-young century has seen a blossoming of literature by Jewish writers across the world. How have they grappled with the enormous changes in politics and culture over recent decades? Poet and essayist Maria Stepanova was shortlisted for the 2021 International Booker for In Memory of Memory, the story of how her seemingly ordinary Russian Jewish family somehow managed to survive the myriad persecutions and repressions of the last century. For his poetry, translations a...
The Poetry Hour
This was a moving event with readings and musings from three major poets. They may be about Budapest or the East End, film reels or music scores, philosophy or politics, reflections on love and death or the dilemmas of being Jewish.
Yudit Kiss: The Summer My Father Died
Yudit Kiss left Hungary as an adult. Her poignant memoir The Summer My Father Died captures her awakening to her own Jewish origins and the shortcomings of Communism as her father, a party official, is dying in Budapest. Kiss and translator George Szirtes discuss the lives and common values of their parents’ generation, Jewish Hungarians who clung to Communist ideology in the face of changing times.
The father is a Jewish Holocaust survivor determined to write a great work that will ...
Conversations with Bach
Reaching across three centuries, Johann Sebastian Bach’s compositions for solo violin and cello are brought to life with readings of new poetry and prose by celebrated authors George Szirtes and Eva Hoffman. George’s poems play with the dance rhythms of Bach’s music, while Eva composes personal letters to Bach, asking questions about the tensions between his creativity and his personal life, the sources of his music in his time – and the myste...