Author's page

Biography

1936 born in Kisújszállás
1954 graduates from the musical school of Békéstarhos as a violin major
1954-57 studies law and later humanities at the university of Budapest;
leader of the Young Artists Club in Budapest; works for the Arts Fund, the Ministry of Labour, and the army monthly
1968-71 works for the Hungarian Television
1978 chief editor at the children s publishing house Móra
1985 freelance writer

Prizes include:
1975 First Prize of the X. TV Festival in Hollywood for the best children's movie, 1977, 87 Attila József Attila prize, 1978, 1982 Prize for the Young, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1990 Prize of the Szépirodalmi Publishing House, 1984 Andersen Diploma, 1984 Literary Prize of the Arts Fund, 1986 Prize for the Children, 1987 Book of the Year Prize, 1989, 1995 Tibor Déry Prize, 1990 MSZOSZ Prize, 1996 Prize of the MAOE for lifetime literary achievement, 1997 literary prize of the Tekintet Foundation, 1999 Kossuth Prize

Oriza Ricepap. From the Adventures of Purr Purr
1977

Csukás started as a poet, but became widely popular as a writer of juvenile literature. Generations of children have been raised on his wonderful tales, playful with imagination and laudable for their lack of violence. In those times when the dictatorial regime of Hungary banned many writers from publication, they (fortunately) had to turn towards the supposedly harmless genre of children s literature; Csukás himself was advised to write tales by his editor, the poet and popular children s writer István Kormos. The stories then where quickly adapted to the stage, television and the big screen (the movie Bowler and Bottlenose has won the Best Children s Movie of the Year award in Hollywood). The characters Csukás created are still the perpetual highlights of every evening s tale on Hungarian television. One of his most memorable heroes is Purr-Purr, the globe-trotting tomcat, who befriends another cat named Oriza Ricepap (the funny name must have been based on a Hungarian brand of baby food); together they aim to become members of the World Organization of Stray Cats. The book (in most editions illustrated with scenes of Otto Foky s puppet film) makes a good reading for both young and old, not only because of the adventures and trials but the style and the farcical situations and characters that recall the works of Jenő Rejtő and Jenő Józsi Tersánszky.

The Tales of Pom Pom
1983

“Who is Pom Pom, you wonder? Don’t you know me? Well, no one knows me, because I’m always changing my shape. Sometimes I resemble a fur hat, as I sit on a nice long branch; in other cases I resemble a fur glove turned inside out; or a pompon on the toe of a slipper.” This little creature is perhaps the strangest, most unique figure in Hungarian children’s writing, and also the most amusing one; each day he entertains his friend, the schoolgirl Picur, with a tale aimed to console her when she is beset with problems. The serialized tale includes characters like the big round chocolate-eating blue bird Arthur Dumpling, who always manages to appease other quarrelling creatures; the Brave Inkrabbit; the Bird-Defending Bullet-Catcher; the potentially dangerous All-Sticking Sticker; the Shaggy Hat-Devourer; the all-erasing Eraser Spider; or the Ambushing Clothes-Line. The greatest magic of Csukás is that he is able to tame and domesticate the violence of children: he is like Arthur Dumpling, who manages to win over the ravaging characters with a bit of chocolate, a few kind words or simply by letting them do some useful work—and he does this without ever sounding supercilious or didactic. His heroes are classical fairytale characters, but never resemble the heroes of other writer’s tales; they are everyday objects transformed into strange and very active figures, and they are strong and memorable without ever seeming to be superheroes.

Collected Poems
1996

… there won’t be grass and won’t be trees and wasps and flowers and there won’t be day and night, no Indian motives on the back of the beetles, no fluffy beard on the buds, no mineral radiance in the eyes of cats, the ecstatic flight of birds, the smile of the women, the curve of their breasts, the sweet saliva trickling in the corners of their mouth in deep sleep, no colours, taste, appeasing melodious music, landscapes, metropolises humming, planes swishing like sharks, and no eye and no heart and the last mind will blow out that could perceive the black disk where the sun was, and there won’t be, there won’t be, and there will be no trace… (“Bad News During Breakfast”) The poetry of István Csukás is hymn-like and beautiful, showing both the wonder of life and the terror of death; his early poems are very melodious, but later irony takes the place of musicality, and this irony, in fact, is a means of defeating death. His style is a mixture of the formal tradition of the classical Hungarian literary movement Nyugat and the lively and imaginative voice of folk poetry. As an intellectual writer he can be compared to Lőrinc Szabó and István Vas; as a hedonist he can be compared to Zoltán Jékely and József Berda, the “poet of food”. His poetry is a quiet but dominant voice in contemporary Hungarian writing. “Let us imagine the poet himself: a corpulent, big-headed, big-moustached man with brownish skin and slanted eyes, a face that seems to be left here from the sixteenth century, the time of the Mohács Disaster. He is getting old, and is struggling with many physical problems, but has an all-encompassing lust for life. A heavy albatross, he shuffles along Csatárka road on his way to the market, his wings folded under his sailor jumper … he loves eating and drinking, loves the bodies wet with perspiration after sex, he loves everything that can be touched or consumed, and in his poems, involuntarily and almost imperceptibly, he elevates these objects and persons into a kind of earthly eternity … Anyway: István Csukás is talking about the last things, the most important things, in such a tessitura as no one else does.” -László Lator, in an essay about the poem “Bad News During Breakfast”

Download contents in PDF!