Author's page


1954 born in Budapest
1978 graduates in Hungarian and English Literature and Linguistics from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
1982 earns doctorate in Literature
1978 teaches at Ányos Jedlik Grammar School, Budapest
1980- present member of the Hungarian P.E.N. Club
1983-93 editor at Európa Publishing House
1985-86 assistant lecturer at the English Departure of Eötvös Loránd University
1989-91 editor for the Újhold-Évkönyv (New Moon Almanac)
1991-2000 editor for the monthly Nagyvilág
1993 assistant lecturer at the English Department of Eötvös Loránd University
1997 obtains PhD

His prizes include:
1987 Robert Graves Prize, 1989 MTA (Soros Foundation Prize), 1990 Tibor Déry Award, 1990, 97 Forintos Prize (Hungarian Writers' Association, 1991, 1995/96 Fulbright Scholarship, 2000 Attila József Prize, 2001 Ágnes Nemes Nagy Prize (Pro Renovanda Cultura Hungariae Foundation), 2006 Palladium-Prize, 2006 Artisjus Literary Prize

If There Were No Trace Left

Győző Ferencz’s first volume of poetry is characterised by a formal and linguistic virtuosity, an “exceptional sense of syntax” (László Lator), with which he transforms any seemingly insignificant detail of everyday life into (philosophical) poetry. “In quite a few poems he does not express thoughts as much as draws his way of thinking,” observes Lator, and it applies to his future volumes as well. “It is Győző Ferencz’s linguistic games that show his talent the most overtly,” writes István Margócsy. “In his poems, grammatical ambiguity, a letter by letter (not word by word) interpretation of quotations, the collision of elements of speech coming from different levels, the weighing of phrases and idioms in important places, appear as material taken and used in the finest way, and he can subordinate this material to his tastes with an irony that is easy and elegant.”

Danger of Collapse

In the somewhat graver (but no less witty) poems of his second volume, he examines existence, the confined nature of time, the problem of self and identity. Where does the ‘I’ end, where is the beginning of the ‘other’? Besides some changes in the poet’s life, the poems are deepened by a broken love. “I and you (plural), I and you (singular)—this system of relationships distilled in the pronouns is what governs the first half of the book,” writes fellow-poet, Szabolcs Várady. Following the design of the book, the bulk of the collection is concerned with the I-I relationship, in the space of passing and measured time. The last poems probe the possibility of some ‘getting over’: over the border, that is, which is his own self. Before publishing this volume, Győző Ferencz had translated a slim volume by John Donne with the title Negatív szerelem (Negative Love); in his own poems, he benefits a great deal from the imagery of 17th century Metaphysical poetry. The objective correlative of his emotional-philosophical world is the mirror, the laws of optics, the refraction of light.

The Mechanics of Poetry

A teacher and scholar, Győző Ferencz put together a book of textual analyses, in which he presents the poems selected from Hungarian, English and American literature (from the poems of Csokonai, Wordsworth, Arany, Browning, Kosztolányi, Eliot, Babits, Lőrinc Szabó, Nemes Nagy) with the empathy of the reader and the knowledge of the workshop in mind. Before each analysis, he sketches the background. “Győző Ferencz offers the outline of the site”, writes one of his important masters, László Lator. “At times he calls on the help of Positivism, at other times on the history of ideas, the history of styles, or sociology. But whatever he is speaking about, in the end he leads us, sometimes through breakneck, zigzagging, uphill climbs, to his attractive obsession: the structure that moves, holds and organises the whole poem. He supports his method with many quotations....He is most in his element when he can grasp all the tricks, building materials, directions, the metrical, grammatical and motive components at one sight, and then examines thoroughly how one completes, strengthens and colours the other.”

Under a Shallow Sky

In his fifth volume, the poet collects almost all of his old and some new poems, making relatively few changes. His previous book (Magamtól egyre messzebb, Always Farther from Myself, poems 1973-1997) is a selection as well, but there he had a different purpose in mind: “Its subtitle could have been ‘selected poems’, but I did not select in general, wishing to represent my poetry with some reduced completeness. Instead, I drew out one yarn: I collected all the poems that are concerned with the conscious mind (as it is, with my own mind), in itself and in its relationships with others.” Reading through the oeuvre so far, one can see how homogeneous Győző Ferencz’s poetry is, despite its changes. “[H]e pries into the borders of the personality,” observes István Margócsy after just his the first book. This search goes on in his third volume, Két ív (Two Arches), in which the poet who had written a handbook on prosody, starts methodically loosening the poems at their seams (rhymes, line length etc.), just as the objective correlative becomes this fragmentariness. In the new poems of the most recent books a more sombre vision is shown (although it should be noted there are some sarcastic and humorous pieces to be found); the poet finds the world unbearable, yet—following a higher command—he begot descendants. There are an increasing number of poems about (an intellectual’s) general social condition (“Szöges botokkal” , With Iron-tipped Sticks; “Kisebbségben”, In the Minority), previously only articulated occasionally; for these great poems Ferencz chooses forms recalling the poets of the 19th century, especially Mihály Vörösmarty, yet without the pathos of Romanticism, or using unambiguous symbols.

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