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George Szirtes - Poetry Books

Here is a list of my publications to date. Most books have extracts and selected reviews which can be viewed by clicking on the book image.

Poetry

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The Slant Door
Published by Secker & Warburg, 1979
Joint winner of Faber Memorial Prize

'His dreamy, delicate, often beautiful poems show a fascination with light and shade, with the disposition of figures in a landscape… a refreshingly original collection' Christopher Hope, London Magazine

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November and May
Published by Secker & Warburg, 1981

'An extraordinarily haunting piece of writing… a work of unusual integrity and authority' Tim Dooley, The Times Literary Supplement

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Short Wave
Published by Secker & Warburg, 1984
Poetry Book Society Choice

'A Tourneur or a Webster put down on the M1.. a book of considerable accomplishment. Szirtes’s voice is now completely his own' Peter Porter, The Observer

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The Photographer in Winter
Published by Secker & Warburg, 1986
PBS Recommendation. Press selection as one of the books of the year.

'The title poem and a poem called Courtyards must be two of the finest formal poems of the decade. The technique is masterly, the vision surreal, the compassion timelessly human.' Anne Stevenson, The Sunday Times

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Metro
Published by OUP, 1988
PBS recommendation. Press selection as one of the books of the year.

'He has as powerful a hold on the fleeting phenomena that add up to life as any poet writing today... a major poet' Peter Forbes, The Listener

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Bridge Passages
Published by OUP, 1991
Shortlisted for Whitbread Poetry Prize

'Depth of feeling, a compassionate discerning intelligence and a committment to truthfulness ... a combination of qualities hard to find simultaneously in any other contemporary British poet' Richard Burns, The Jewish Chronicle

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Blind Field
Published by OUP, 1994

'A marvellously precise and haunting ability to establish something seen' Anthony Thwaite, The Sunday Telegraph

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Selected Poems
Published by OUP, 1996
PBS Recommendation. Press selection as one of the books of the year.

'...Serious as Brodsky, culturally wide-ranging as Peter Porter (both acknowledged mentors) Szirtes is one of the best poets we have' William Scammell , Independent on Sunday

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Portrait of My Father in an English Landscape
Published by OUP, 1998
PBS Recommendation. Press selection as one of the books of the year.

''...one of the most elegantly formal books I’ve read in recent years... Szirtes gives not only the historical perspective but also the wonders of our own language...[He] is one of the few poets writing in English capable of such a synthesis...'' Judith Kitchen, Georgia Review (USA)

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The Budapest File
Published by Bloodaxe, 2000
PBS recommendation. Press selection as one of the books of the year.

'...The Budapest File is a book to get hold of. Szirtes is increasingly revealed as a major English poet – one of those in whom insight and technique combine to focus more and more productively as the years go by' Hugh Macpherson, Poetry Review

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An English Apocalypse
Published by Bloodaxe, 2001
PBS Recommendation. Press selection as one of the books of the year.

'An English Apocalypse is full of fruitful collisions: between the Augustan bite of the poetry’s satire and its untroubled, lucid surfaces; between its grasp of contemporary detail and its muscular phrasings; between the painterly poise of its visual tableaux and the fluidity of its narratives... a work of poetic stocktaking, as well as hinting at the fresh fields awaiting this most sui generis of pastoralists' Catriona O'Reilly, The Times Literary Supplement

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Reel
Published by Bloodaxe Books, 2004
PBS Choice, WINNER OF TS ELIOT PRIZE 2005

'I can't think of anyone but Louis MacNeice whose work has struck me as
having such a combination of sheer verbal energy, contemporary pertinence and acuity, formal legerdemain, imaginative elan and fertile,courageous -strangeness.' Marilyn Hacker

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Budapest: Image, Poem, Film
Published by Corvina, Budapest, 2006
Collaboration with Clarissa Upchurch

'to come'

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John Sears: Reading George Szirtes
Published by Bloodaxe, 2008
Critical work

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New and Collected Poems
Published by Bloodaxe, 2008
Independent Poetry Book of The Year

'...this is the work of a truly great poet. It is also a fascinating record of his growing interest in poetic technique. Not since MacNeice has any poet from Britain or Ireland used terza rima so effortlessly or so effectively. If you don't know Szirtes's work, you had better start here..
' Andy Croft, Morning Star

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English Words / Angol Szavak
Published by Corvina, 2008
Bilingual edition of a selection of poems by a variety of Hungarian poets

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Shuck, Hick, Tiffey
Published by Gatehouse Press, 2008
Three Regional Libretti (with composer Ken Crandell)

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The Burning of the Books
Published by Full Circle Editions, 2009
Collaboration with artist Ronald King

'There are none of the adept terza rima or sonnets we might expect from Szirtes here. Instead "a series of narrative cries and thrusts" create a feeling of chaos. Yet his use of language to interrogate language remains as uncomfortably elegant as a Leni Riefenstahl film. Words are dangerous and endangered things..' Nancy Campbell, Poetry Review

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The Burning of the Books and Other Poems
Published by Bloodaxe Books, 2009
the first book of entirely new poems since Reel (2004)

'Any new collection from George Szirtes will treat its readers to a unique poetic combination: immense versatility and virtuosity when it comes to form, but also a tireless sympathy that dwells clear-sightedly on shocks, traumas and hard-won renewals from a century of migration and massacre... its title sequence truly takes the breath away: a meditation on the love and hatred of knowledge, and why fury against literature did not start or end on Nazis' pyres: "Because the word is angular and has sharp edges/ That cut you". Read Szirtes to feel the exquisite, excruciating paper cuts of history.' Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

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Fortinbras at the Fishhouses
Published by Bloodaxe Books, 2010
Responsibility, the Iron curtain and the sense of history as knowledge

Reel ed Altre Poesie
Published by Polistampa (Italy), 2011
translated by Gabriele Natali


Translation

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Imre Madach: The Tragedy of Man
Published by Corvina - Puski, 1989
Winner of Dery Prize and Gold Star Award of Hungarian Republic

'The dramatic poem which George Szirtes has brilliantly translated here.. in the sixth attempt to win for Madách a place in world literature' Hugh Maxton, New Hungarian Quarterly

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Dezsö Kosztolányi: Anna Édes
Published by Quartet / New Directions, 1991
Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year. Independent on Sunday Books of the Year.

'At a time when forgotten Eastern European classis are emerging at the rate of about two a week there is no danger of Anna Édes being lost in the crowd' Carl MacDougall, Glasgow Herald

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Ottó Orbán: The Blood of the Walsungs
Published by Bloodaxe, 1993

'The translations… are admirably done. Particularly impressive is George Szirtes’s ‘On the Death of István Vas’…. I wish I had a large cash prize to give out for this.' Toby Litt, Poetry London

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Zsuzsa Rakovszky: New Life
Published by Oxford, 1994
Winner of European Poetry Translation Prize

'A poet of ironic order, cool and agitation. The translations by George Szirtes are out of this world.' Michael Hofmann, Times Literary Supplement

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The Colonnade of Teeth: Twentieth Century Hungarian Poetry
Published by Bloodaxe, 1996

'Gobsmackingly brilliant work' Tibor Fischer, The Good Book Guide

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Gyula Krúdy: The Adventures of Sindbad
Published by Central European University Press, 1999
Short-listed for Weidenfeld Prize

'There is about Krúdy an absolutely railed-down otherworldliness. A brilliant spectrum where reality is just one possible colour… This book is just a gift. I am grateful to George Szirtes for making it possible for me to read it and praise it.' Michael Hofmann, The Times Literary Supplement

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László Krasznahorkai: The Melancholy of Resistance
Published by Quartet Books - New Directions (USA), 1999

'The writing and translation are so accomplished, you’re lifted along in lunar leaps and bounds' Francis Gilbert, The Guardian

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The Night of Akhenaton: Selected Poems of Agnes Nemes Nagy
Published by Bloodaxe Books, 2004
PBS Recommended Translation. NOW SHORTLISTED FOR WEIDENFELD PRIZE. ALSO SHORTLISTED FOR EUROPEAN POETRY TRANSLATION PRIZE

'Introducing Nemes Nagy as 'one of the great indispensable European poets of the twentieth century', George Szirtes - himself an indispensable and meticulous poet-translator - goes on to prove his case with a compelling and comprehensive selection of her poems and prose poems.' Dennis O'Driscoll, Poetry Book Society Bulletin

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Sándor Márai: Conversations in Bolzano
Published by Viking Penguin - Knopf, 2004
Márai's second novel into English after Embers

'God may be dead or dying but passion is not; and passion is now the Great Dictator. What makes this the more impressive novel [than Embers] is that Márai uses it to expose the disingenuousness of the writer himself... And what gives Márai's writing its brusque vitality, so fluently translated by the poet George Szirtes, is his ingenuity and warding off, or keeping at bay, his own disillusionment with the novel.' Adam Phillips, The London Review of Books

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War and War: László Krasznahorkai
Published by New Directions, 2005
from the Hungarian

'In more normal prose this device would set a plate-glass window between the reader and the events described, but Krasznahorkai's cetacean sentences curve through that window, confuse the sense of distance or, rather, they constitute a distancing effect in themselves. We feel our contact with Korin, the central character, to be constrained because we can reach him only through efforts of reading in which the desire for a cadence is so long frustrated, and will be frustrated again. But we accept the frustration as positive. The portrait of a character almost terminally worn out, in a world of dissolution and disarray, depends on the power of the text to exhaust, which in turn depends on that text's power to enthral. We keep going. We keep coming back for more. And we do so not only because of the grip of the story (or stories) but also because there are so many poetic and moving incidents, and because these vastly extended rhythms are, in George Szirtes's translation, so masterly.' Paul Griffiths, Ready Steady Book

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Sándor Márai: The Rebels
Published by Knopf / Random House, 2007
The second of the Márai novels I have translated. The story of the dangerous conspiratorial adventures of a group of four schoolboys in a provinical Hungarian town in 1918. The best of the Márais so far in my opinion.

'But even when dealing with familiar motifs or inherited plots, he proves his power. In “The Rebels,” stock characters—the invalid mother, the poor boy with ambition, the fruity actor, the wounded veteran back from the front, the merciless Jewish pawnbroker—pulse with life. And the language is often breathtaking...The very accomplished Anglo-Hungarian poet George Szirtes, who also translated “Casanova in Bolzano,” renders “The Rebels” in luminous prose..' Arthur Phillips, The New Yorker

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Ferenc Karinthy: Metropole
Published by Telegram, 2008
From the Hungarian

'The comparison with Kafka is irresistible – Metropole is the story of a man accidentally and inexplicably cut adrift in a city he doesn’t recognise and in a country whose language he doesn’t speak....Translated with beautiful economy by George Szirtes, Karinthy’s allegory of language-lessness certainly merits a place in the pantheon of Mittel-european dystopian modernism.' Jonathan Derbyshire, The New Humanist

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Esther's Inheritance
Published by Knopf / Random House / Picador, 2008
Translated from the Hungarian of Sándor Márai

'George Szirtes, the poet who did a marvellous job on translating The Rebels, has triumphed here in evoking Esther's tone of wry regret. Esther's Inheritance was first published in Hungary in 1939 and it brings with it a subtle, vivid sense of a vanished world as reflected through a house that has seen the various members of the family pass through life and on to memory.' Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times

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Childrens

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Red All Over Riddle Book
Published by Faber, 1997

'No primary-school teacher who reads poetry to childrn should be without George Szirtes’s The red-All-Over Riddle Book' Sarah Johnson, The Times

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Editor

New Writing
Published by Picador, 2001

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Leopard V:An Island of Sound
Published by Harvill, 2004
Hungarian Poetry and Fiction before and beyond the Iron Curtain

'A superbly rich and varied 400-page collection of Hungarian poetry and fiction from the 1940s to the present day...' Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

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Other

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The Poetry Quartets 6 (Audio Recording)
Published by Bloodaxe / British Council, 2001
with Moniza Alvi, Michael Donaghy and Anne Stevenson

'' You can hear two poems from this recording via the British Council by clicking on Links and then on the appropriate heading..

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Poetry Archive: George Szirtes
Published by The Poetry Archive, 2005
Recorded 1 March 2005

'You can hear four poems from this CD free at the Poetry Archive, and specifically at George Szirtes'

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