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Orsolya KARAFIÁTH
( 1976 )

Biography

1976 born in Budapest, September 19
1995 library studies at the ELTE University, Budapest; later studies Estonian but graduates in Hungarian Literature and Library Sciences
Librarian and program manager of the Ludwig Museum

Her prizes include:
1998 Prize of the periodical Mozgó Világ, 2000 Zsigmond Móricz Prize, 2002 Woman of the Year Prize, 2005 Cross of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, Gold Grade

The Secret Song of Lotte Lenya
1999

Orsolya (Ursula) Karafiáth is a special figure in young Hungarian poetry. By the power of her first volume, she was recognized as one of the most promising talents. However, she is not only an acknowledged writer, but a girl about town: she drinks, she goes to parties, she wears wigs of different colours (she poses as a cover girl for a literery magazine in a pretty black wig for example), she organizes interesting and provocative literary programs at her work place, the Ludwig Museum, she sing in a horse’s mask in her own pop group, she travels around, she has a TV show of her own, and she is the only Hungarian poet so far with whom a long interview has appeared in the woman’s magazine ELLE. She likes stage appearances and acting like a diva, but still, her favourite star is not the famous early film actress and chanson singer, Katalin Karády, but the contemporary pop singer, Zsuzsa Koncz, who is natural and spontaneous in both appearance and voice. This duality of actress and spontaneous singer is present in Karafiáth’s poetry. She is very good at verse songs that could be sung in a microphone – and still, she sings her lonely love songs not to an audience, but to an empty room or a big city street; the former lover is addressed, but she talks to his absence rather than his person. Melancholy is imbued with irony, anger with sorrow and forgiveness. “Two wonderful sonnets are at the beginning and the end of the volume The Secret Song of Lotte Lenya and frame the different poems. Halfway between, there is another poem composed of four sonnets of different tones, Farewell from Mornings. On the first one there is the unmistakable mark of a real talent. … Perhaps absence itself fills it up with poetic atmosphere. She talks in a straightforward and natural manner, just as a girl of twenty-something talks to her (ex) love. … Instead of the moment of falling in love, breaking off, or rather the slowly and undramatically disintegrating love seen with no sentimentality, but sad indifference, is the most important experience of the young poet. These poems are intimate ones even if they are role-plays.” (László Lator)

Café X
2004

„I’m just a woman, 1.7 high / whose favourite beer is Heineken, no less. / Who suddenly lost some ten kilograms / and until thirty needs only three years. // She has a job and she has had two loves, / She went to pilgrimage: two days till Rome. / It’s quite a thing – some people envy her. / She recollects things, now that she is home.” (Everything you want to know about remembering) Café X is the book of loves and seasons. “Our favourite heroine”, as Karafiáth calls her alter-ego, lives her life among choices and cities, the rhythm of dance and music; and she is enthusiastic like a teenager. The bitter and humorous tone of the poems is imbued with the charm of a young woman, who many times makes fun of herself and the boys, teasing them and missing them and loving them. The key motive of the book is yearning for adventures, which finds its way in travels and new loves (Adrew, Christoph, Mr. X., the golden-skinned ‘gipsy prince’); she writes songs, chansons, waltzes, “adventure poems” and daring music-hall songs about them, written in the manner of action, horror and fantasy films, telling about female spies and masculine heroes. The funny and melancholic volume that was illustrated by another female writer, Vera Filó, makes very good reading for everyone – especially students, girls and big-city dwellers. “In the volume of Orsolya Karafiáth there are some really beautiful poems – yes, beautiful, in the most traditional sense of the word; these poems are complete and lack any irony or trick. (In this, Karafiáth is quite old-fashioned.) So, let’s not beat around the bush: it’s a great event that her new volume of happy and sad songs is out in the stores.” (György C. Kálmán)

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