Author's page

( 1971 )

» Myself (1992)
» Seams (1998)
» Five Wounds (2000)
» Heat Loss (2005)
» Mortuary (2007)


1971 born in Budapest; both of his parents (Katalin Mezey and János Oláh) are poets
1985-1989 student at Mihály Táncsics Secondary School
1987 first publication in a literary journal
1989-1996 receives diploma in Hungarian and French Literature from the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
1994 teaches Belgian Literature at the University
1996 member of the Hungarian Writer's Union
1996-1999 doctoral studies at Eötvös Loránd University
1999 editor of the world literature journal Nagyvilág
1997 teacher on the French faculty of Péter Pázmány Catholic University
1997 secretary of the Hungarian PEN Club
2000 one of the founding editors of the Internet journal, which provides a forum for young talent
2002 fifth child is born (four daughters and a son)

Prizes include:
1991 Art Foundation s Grant for Young Artists
1992 Attila Gérecz Award
1995 Hungarian Artists National Association s Antal Hidas Award
1997 Main Prize at the Sonnet Competition of the Magazine Pánsíp and the Hungarian Writers Association
1997 Special Prize at the First Wine Song Competition of Sopron
1995 TEMPUS Grant at the University of Bruxelles
1998 Soros Grant
1998 Société des Gens de Lettres Gyula Illyés Award
1999, 2000 First Prize in French Category at the Translation Competition of Palimpsest University Foundation
1999 Péter Hajnóczy Prose Writers Grant
1999 Belgian Cultural Ministry s Translation Award (Prix de traduction littéraire de la Communauté Française de Belgique)
1999 Hungarian Cultural Foundations s Grant
1999 First Prize at the Portuguese Translation Competition in memory of Almeida Garrett
2000 Attila József Award
2000 Prize at the Vörösmarty Competition of the Centre of Contemporary Literature and of Petőfi Museum of Literature
2001 Tibor Déry Award
2002 Third Prize at the Mikszáth Competition of Palócföld
2002 Salvatore Quasimodo Award
2002 First Prize at the Interview Competition of the Magazine Új Forrás
2003 Zsigmond Móricz Grant
2004 Centre National du Livre s Translation Grant (Paris)
2005 József Katona Grant for Playwrights (Second Prize at the Competition Our Dear Mothertongue )
2005 István Örkény Playwrights Grant
2006 Special Prize at the Short Story Comptetition of the MÁV (Hungarian Railways)


Magam (Myself), 1992 Lackfi writes in his first book of poems of the poet’s ‘voyage’: On the tossing ferry-boat of impressions I travel from shore to shore And in the same poem, another crucial notion of his poetry: I have learnt that it is only worth existing for that second hand that spreads time in circles and brings fertility to the world. Lackfi’s poems are fertilized by these same moments: he observes everything and recognizes the importance of fleeting frivolities. His poems and prose are full of impressions and images. He uses surprising associations and records every moment, every single raisin, every time he lights up a cigarette, takes a bath or drinks a cup of tea, and he is able to write a poem about the relation of the telephone bill to the birth of his daughter. These everyday moments are elevated and intensified; they become just as important for the reader as for him when we come to realize that exactly these brief moments make up our own lives.


Illesztékek (Seams), 1998 In contrast to many Hungarian poets, János Lackfi writes not about death, but life. It is a great and special gift; he does not call upon his readers to change their lives, but asks us to realize that we exist in each fleeting moment of our lives. There are no exceptional moments; everything is equally important, because everything is linked to everything else. This is the essence of Lackfi’s virtuoso impressionism: his light brushwork, pulsating rhythm, bright sketches and brilliant lights all suggest that there is a God living in every little triviality, and it is only He who can create some order in our manifold lives. If we are aware of this, then we must only look up in the “cascade of invisible space” above our heads, and we will be enlightened. “He is not the mannered singer of weightless and meaningless trivialities, but a poet who describes things in a very natural but still elevated manner. The Lackfi-phenomenon means to use events of life as a tool for description, somewhat like fitting a screw nut; he intends to educate and form himself to be able to observe the everyday happenings with the least possible sublimity and elevation—only keeping as much dignity as necessary to create real poetry.” -Tibor Vass

Five Wounds

Öt seb (Five Wounds), 2000 The sacred is always present in János Lackfi’s poems—he observes and calls attention to things with the same intensity as the five saints that figure in this slim volume. Lackfi is well aware of the connections and coherence of things in this world, incomprehensible to the human mind (he calls them relations, seams, hooks and clamps) which can only be observed and described by the very best poets. The five male and female saints of the volume speak in a condensed, almost enigmatic manner; the short poems are filled with a sensual, ecstatic sacredness, a longing for God, using clear and novel images to convey their meaning.

Heat Loss

Hőveszteség (Heat Loss), 2005 Temples and taverns are open wide they show us a strange afterlife. (“Temples, Taverns”) In his latest volume, Lackfi continues to find interest “where the formula is born/that describes your existence (“Attic”). In this manner he records every incident from the saintly (“death lies in existence” from the poem “Nativity Crib”) to the provocative and banal (“I sit on the loo” from the poem “Levels”); he writes poems about selling his car, about his fat-reducing diet, about drinking coffee—parodies about the “bubbleweight” of everyday life, because he knows that sometimes the smallest events define a life—playing the piano, writing, watching his children play, etc. “János Lackfi is a lucky type because we can never feel the effort and strain in his works—it seems that he always enjoys what he’s doing. There’s nothing he shies away from. There are only a few writers who can find the poetic potential of well-known everyday objects. As if he would only prepare sketches about everything he sees, and these quick drawings usually show us something which does not only refer to particular objects and events, but also to our general human condition.” -László Lator, editor of Hőveszteség


Halottnéző (Mortuary) NORAN, BUDAPEST, 2007. 232 PAGES Poet, writer and translator, János Lackfi was born in Budapest in 1971. He qualified in his home city as a teacher of French and Hungarian in 1995. During 1995-96 he lived in Paris and Brussels on a scholarship. He has previously published several volumes of poetry, including Magam (Myself, 1992), Hosszú öltésekkel (With Long Stitches, 1995) and Illesztések (Interpolations, 1998). Teenager Johnny relates the story of his childhood in Hungary during the Seventies and Eighties wirg the man that he grew up into also chipping in his own observations. The strange, melancholically happy world of a child of the late Kádár era is conjured up, from his years as a smock-draped infant in the day-nursery through to his first love. The main protagonist is assailed by fits of high spirits and anxiety, by dazzlingly romantic adventure stories about cowboy and Indians and wartime Soviet heroes, but, first and foremost, by grotesque, embarrassed adults. The parlance of adolescent boys mingles with the idiom of the later adult, and we also have a peek into Johnny’s letters and diaries down the years. The adolescent does not perceive the situations in a tragic light, but the reader can clearly discern this in the background: adults, the boy’s parents, are casualties of the Kádár regime, it’s just that Johnny does not yet know it, or in other words, he does not really understand it. “Unlikely as it may seem, Mortuary is actually a novel about the father, or at least the absence of a father, with detail being directed towards the suicide of the narrator’s father, which takes place in the closing pages of the book.” Tibor Bárány, Élet és Irodalom

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