A reading and discussion of the poetry of Attila Jozsef, Hungary’s greatest 20th century poet, will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 5 in Sibley Chapel on Lindenwood's main campus.
The reading and discussion will be held by his translators, Hungarian poet Gabor G. Gyukics and Lindenwood professor Michael Castro. The event is being sponsored by Lindenwood University’s MFA in Writing Program, in conjunction with the English Department.
Attila Jozsef (1905-1937) wrote an intense, personal poetry with political and metaphysical overtones that still resonates with Hungarians, cutting through socio-economic and ethnic strata with its directness.
Castro and Gyukics’s renderings have drawn praise because they have captured an edge in Joszef’s voice that “feels quite contemporary,” a quality which eluded earlier English translators and accounts for his continuing popularity in Hungary and around the world.
Jozsef’s work has been set to music by composers and blues singers, choreographed for dance, and transformed into visual art. It has been translated into many languages, including French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Finnish, Swedish and now the English translations by Castro and Gyukics in their book, A Transparent Lion: Selected Poetry of Attila Jozsef (Green Integer Books 2006). The book was published in the wake of the 100th anniversary of Jozsef’s birth, the subject of a year-long national celebration in Hungary that featured a conference of his international translators, readings and other events participated in by Castro and Gyukics.
Gabor G. Gyukics was born in Budapest in 1958. He first became involved in the arts in 1980 when he joined the studio of Domino, one of Hungary’s most influential pantomime groups. A year later he became a founding member of a professional theater, Hevesi Sandor, with whom he acted until 1986. That year he left Hungary for the Netherlands, where he wrote his first poem, “Snail on Ice,” and began working on translations.
At the end of 1988 he moved to the United States and continued writing and translating. To date his poems, prose pieces and translations have appeared in over 100 magazines and anthologies in Armenia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Italy, Northern Ireland, Rumania, Serbia, Slovakia, and the United States. He has published three books of poetry: the first, Utcai Eloadas (Street Performance), in Hungarian (Fekete Sas Publishing, 1998), sold out in two months and is now in a second printing; the second, Last Smile (Utolso Mosoly) was released in a bilingual English-Hungarian edition by Cross Cultural Press in 1999; and the third, A Remete Tobbes Szama (The Plural of Hermit) was published by Fekete Sas in 2002.
Gyukics has been involved with numerous translation projects, including a Hungarian-American English dictionary, Half-Naked Muse, a bilingual anthology of contemporary American poetry featuring his translations from English into Hungarian, Swimming in the Ground: Contemporary Hungarian Poetry, a collection of forty Hungarian poets co-translated into English with Michael Castro, and Gypsy Drill, poems by the distinguished contemporary Gypsy poet, Attila Balogh, also translated with Castro. Gyukics has received several Hungarian literary awards for his poetry and translations. He has dual American and Hungarian citizenship and currently resides in Budapest with his wife and two small children.
Michael Castro, a Lindenwood professor since 1980, has been instrumental in establishing Lindenwood’s Graduate Communications and MFA in Writing programs.
He is a widely published poet with seven books of his own poetry along with his translation work, and a prose study of Native American influences on modern poetry, Interpreting the Indian: Twentieth Century Poets and the Native American. Castro has also done pioneering work with poetry as a performance art, often collaborating with musicians, dancers, and visual artists. Two new CD’s are due out in 2008, Kokopilau, with J.D. Parran, and Deep Mirror, with Joe Catalano. He is the founder of the literary organization, River Styx which, since 1975, has produced readings and the internationally celebrated River Styx Magazine. From 1989-2004, he hosted the radio show, Poetry Beat. Castro has been a Fulbright Scholar, traveling and studying in India, where he recorded a series of interviews with East Indian poets for radio broadcast. He is the recipient of the Guardian Angel of St. Louis Poetry Award (2000) from River Styx, and the Warrior Poet Award (2005) from Word in Motion, both for lifetime achievement.