Author's page

Márton KALÁSZ
( 1934 )

Biography

1934 born in Somberek
1948-52 secondary schooling in Pécs
1953-57 works on a state farm in Ormánság; works in adult education, directs an arts centre (Siklós, Szigetvár)
1957-1970 correspondent for Falurádió (Radio Village), editor for Európa Publishers
1964 on scholarship in East Berlin
1971-74 works for the Hungarian Cultural Centre, Berlin
1970-1985 columnist for Új Írás
from 1986 on the staff of Vigilia
1991-94 director of the Hungarian Cultural Information Centre in Stuttgart
1991-present president of Vörösmarty Society
2001-present president of the Hungarian Writers' Association

Prizes:
1971, 1987 Attila József prize,1983, 1984 Európa Publ. House prize, 1987 IBBY prize, 1996 Artisjus Literary prize

Viola d'amour
1969

At the outset, Márton Kalász followed the lyric realism of the national-rural tradition of Hungarian poetry, but the poems of landscape and scenery soon gave way to ones more obviously aimed at contemplation. In the 100 eight-line pieces of Viola d'amour, all written in couplet rhymes, the poet explores the inner world of a love affair. However, emotions are not as one might expect: the intensity of the personal subject matter is in contrast to the impersonal feel of these compressed stanzas; and the dry and tense syntax expresses the disharmony of the emotions present.

The Praying Locust
1980

By the end of the Seventies, Kalász's poetry had evolved: his poems were characterised by elliptic sentences, rare and often archaic words or idioms, and vernacular vocabulary. As a response to the contemporary German poets he had translated (Kunert, Fühman, Grass), he experimented with unusual, at times outlandish, possibilities of the language. The sixty-four unrhymed sonnets of this volume portray someone living in a capital city but conserving the tradition of the countryside. In the cyclically structured volume, we read suggestive but restrained poems of self-definition and memory, in flowing one-sentence poems.

The Unconcealed State of Being
2003

A new volume comprised of selected and new poems. Bold word order and syntax, lines open to interpretation, and meaning distilled to its essence all make Kalász s poems dramatic. The most important features of his poetry are craft and a sophisticated grip of the language. If one had to define Márton Kalász s poetry and the world view it presents, the first word that would come to one s mind would be peaceful . -László Rónay

Memories of a Closed Zone
2010

In his essay collection Berlin: Memories of a Closed Zone, the poet and translator Márton Kalász (b. 1934) likewise chronicles his memories associated with a given region. Kalász, who grew up in Hungary but in an ethnic German family, translates modern German lyric verse and has been a cultural diplomat representing Hungary on German soil on more than one occasion. In this book he conveys his memories of Berlin and, in particular, of East Berlin. The relationship between Kalász and East Berlin is historical from day one; for he first arrived there on the day the Wall was raised. In his telling of the city’s story, the 1960s and 1970s were, to East Berlin, years of a world of “closed freedom.” Each and every day Kalász went to metaphorical and concrete walls in the company of the city’s poets and literary scholars. In this book, Kalász includes some of their poems and his own, and together they describe this city. Over the years, Kalász came to know the language of stairwells, walled-up subway stations, peaceful green outlying districts, the buzz of the theater world, sudden silences, and suddenly erupting sighs. The literary result is this lyrically composed volume of essays—an exceptional, living study of a city’s past that helps us draw a cultural portrait of the Berlin of today.

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