Author's page

Biography

1940 born in the town Székesfehérvár
1959 diploma in Hungarian Literature and Library Studies at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
1961-62 works as a cultural activist in Bokod
1964 librarian at the Faculty of Law in Budapest
1965 editor of the literary journal, Tiszta Szívvel (Pure Heart)
1968-1970 translator s grant to Poland
1970-1977 editor of the worker s magazine, Magyar Papír (Hungarian Paper)
1978 91 member of the staff of the important literary magazine, Élet és Irodalom
2006 dies in Budapest

Major prizes:
1970, 1986 Attila József Prize, 1988 Book of the Year Prize, 1988 Tibor Déry Prize, 1992 Prize for Hungarian Art, 1993, 94, 95, 96 Prize of the Hungarian Army and the Writer s Union, 1994 Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, Officer's Cross, 1996 Horizont Prize, 2001 Kossuth Prize

Ragged word
1966

The shepherd Josif Izmindi and Adrás Herz from Post Street, and the Horváths on Old Street, and the ash-face of Ancient Meszkó – This is my only heritage. (“Faces”) Many poems of Bella’s first volume deal with predecessors and ancestors, with the living tradition which enabled the young poet to produce ballad-like poems resembling very natural folk songs. Bella’s voice here is that of songs, comparable to the tradition of Attila József, Ferenc Juhász and László Nagy (to whom he dedicates poems in the volume). The memorable metaphors and vivid poetic images create a private myth in which the poet’s task is to pronounce the truth because it is he who “drank from the waters of the sky”. Youth is full of wild, creative forces, of which love is the utmost aim. Bella has created some of the most beautiful love poems in Hungarian poetry.

On the Wall of the Sky
1984

This volume of selected poems (1958-81) gives a comprehensive view of Bella’s oeuvre up to 1984, beginning with the “world-tearing” love of youth up to the question leading back to the beginnings: “Do you still speak Wordish?” Hymns are found here together with playful pieces, songs and odes and with nonsense rhymes and pieces for children. “Until the middle of the Seventies, the song-form played a dominant role in his poetry; at this time he began to explore a more informal style involving ellipses and more fragmented structures. He never renounced his demands on form....Bella attributes magical powers to language, enjoying archaisms, folklore, word games, alliterations and homonyms.” -Adam Makkai

Abel in the Desert
1998

The problem of the archaic hero has always preoccupied Bella. In his volume, The Museum of Youth, he posed a question. In the case of Cain and Abel: so far nobody has mentioned the lamb. Not the Lord either! The Judge of Judges! .... So I propose the postponement of history. I move for a new trial. But who should be the judge? The victim may not judge! (“Retrial”, translated by István Tótfalusi) In this volume, instead of earlier myths and songs, he turns to ultimate, metaphysical questions. “A new book, like Abel in the Desert, must be naturally considered the peak of an oeuvre; so I only try to find the roots which feed and give power to this height: the Abel-motive. The title is double-faced. One meaning goes back to Áron Tamási, who said: ‘We are born to this world to find our home in it.’ This home is a human-faced country, a homeland, because Tamási’s Abel wanders through the world to find something of a home....The Central-European Abel figure, though, can only wander through the desert as a punishment, not according to his own free will. The desert is Nothing itself, an unimaginable, final lack, which is the ultimate non-being.....The desert is the final destination, where one must admit that he has reached nothing....Absolute truth is in God’s hand—or nowhere. But why was world created at all? This is the basic question of this volume.” -István Kemsei

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