Author's page

Anna SZABO T
( 1972 )

» Prints of Bird’s Feet on the Snow (1995)
» Gravity (1998)
» Light (2002)
» Capturing Motion (2004)
» Leaving (2006)

Biography

1972 born in Kolozsvár (Cluj, Romania)
1984-1986 studies at István Báthori Líceum
1987 emigrates to Hungary with her family, attends grammar school in Szombathely
1990-1995 graduates in Hungarian and English Literature and Linguistics from Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest; member of the József Eötvös Collégium
1998-2001 PhD studies at the English Renaissance and Baroque School of Eötvös Loránd English-American Institute; lectures for several semesters at Eötvös Collegium
2000-2004 leads poetry translation workshops for the British Council

Her prizes include:
1996 Sándor Petőfi Prize, 1997 The Soros Foundation's Scholarship, 2000 Tibor Déry Award, 2001 Zsigmond Móricz Scholarship, 2002 Attila József Prize, 2003 Vackor Prize, Nizzean Pebble Prize, 2004 Zoltán Zelk Prize, 2005 János Arany Scholarship, The Tokaj Writers' Assembly's Prize, 2006 Mozgó Világ Quality Prize in Fiction, Mihály Babits Translator's Scholarship

Prints of Bird’s Feet on the Snow
1995

A madárlépte hó (Prints of Bird’s Feet on the Snow) 1995 Early on, in her first work, Anna T. Szabó articulated her poetic intentions: To write poetry as if the word and the form did not hide what is behind them (“Úgy írni verset” To Write Poetry). Her fondness and sense of closed and clear forms draw on the Transylvanian poetry tradition, as well as the tradition outlined by the authors of the periodicals, Nyugat and Újhold. Besides the rich musicality of her poems, it is the view and vision, sensual experience and an abstract distance that, as early as her first volume, govern her poetry. “If one can believe the ars poeticas collected in the first cycle of the book, she wishes to write an elementary poetry that is nested in a pre-creation void. Human-sized events seem to point to apparitions of greater proportion, to the nature of existence.” -László Lator

Gravity
1998

Nehézkedés (Gravity) 1998 Two metaphysically spacious, grand poems, “A sötétről” (On Darkness) and “A szemről” (On the Eye), open the second volume. The ars poetica is modified; it is evidently the different roles of watching (its subject, object and process; objects and their radiation; the relationship of the perceptible world and the perceiver) that the poet is after. Whatever can be connected to it (the eye, viewing, sight, closed eyes, dreaming, the imagination or vision) is present here. The book continues with dramatic monologues and ballads of dense atmosphere, poems that identify with the “impersonal suffering” of the dying, and death poems, yet all this is counter-balanced by other poems of sensual experience that can be palpably objective or clearly abstract. “The three great pillars of Nehézkedés are contemplation, dramatic monologues and empathy. All three have to do with attention or, more precisely, with the eye: it is how the poet observes—presents—and sees.” -Mónika Mesterházi

Light
2002

Fény (Light) 2002 Győző Ferencz provides an observation that properly introduces this volume: “In her new poems, Anna T. Szabó examines the possibilities of lyrical expression even more consistently than before. Structurally, the book is built on the metaphor of photography, its three cycles, “Autofókusz” (Autofocus), “Sötétkamara” (Darkroom) and “Előhívás” (Developing), follow the three stages of capturing sight, that is, the birth of the poem.” It is worth calling attention to the two lengthiest compositions of the volume. In the eight-piece poem “Népstadion metrómegálló” (Népstadion Metro Station), with its motto alluding to the work of László Moholy-Nagy (“A fotográfiai látás nyolc eleme”—The Eight Ways of Photographic Vision), Anna T. Szabó presents the micro- and macro-events of the same everyday urban environment, a busy traffic junction, in eight different ways of seeing, from eight different approaches (“Absztrakt látás: fotogram”—Abstact viewing: The photogram; “Pontos látás: riport”—Exact Viewing: The Report; etc.). The closing poem, the three-pillar “Fény” (Light), is set during the Easter holidays, the time of the Resurrection, in three scenes: at the market-hall, at the junk-market and in the cemetery, and each projects into another rich images of life and death. “Anna T. Szabó follows Moholy-Nagy’s ‘technical’ instructions even in the sense that in presenting the sight, she never for a moment wants us to believe that what she has seen is reproduced in a simple or naive way, nor that the objects and elements of reality offer automatically what can be seen in them.” -István Margócsy “The claim and the ability to happiness is there hidden in Anna T. Szabó’s darkest poems, as in a well-defended nest or unseen, at the depth of water. But happiness, not as a message, a topic or a story, but as form itself, is there in the body of the poem; the lines proceed in merry dance steps even in the vicinity of death, of anguish—one can die in the next minute.” -Judit Márványi

Capturing Motion
2004

Rögzített mozgás (Capturing Motion) 2004 The theme of the book’s first cycle, “Fehér” (White), is the experience of birth and giving birth, which offers the poet the opportunity to speak about the sensing of a pre-conceptual experience, “reporting,” writes István Margócsy, “to this point in an almost unprecedented manner in Hungarian poetry, the highly difficult relations and simple contradictions of the mystery, the defencelessness, the miracle and the commonness that giving life means. Radically different from the mother-poems of Hungarian poetry, she presents the experience of childbirth and of learning to be a mother in a way that almost completely ignores the moral aspects of motherhood or the parent–child relationship or the ‘social’ aspect, the conventional side, of being a mother.” It is motion the poet wishes to capture in the rest of the book, with the eye of the photographer. “She pegs down objects of everyday life, seemingly irrelevant scenery, the grades of light and darkness and motion. There is some foreknowledge in these poems, which we can watch, touch and hear amazedly. She is the knower of names anyway, she calls the objects of nature that crowd our environment and those of our depressing city by their name, and they serve her in her poems gratefully and beautified, because their attraction is personal and is built on knowing one another well.” -Zsuzsa Takács

Leaving
2006

The narrator of these classically wrought but at times daringly inverted or slanted poems is a young mother who encounters the processes of mortality, desertion, deterioration, “bequeathing” and slowly growing old from the vantage point of a happy mother-child relationship, with links of family and love. Even as she thrills at her child’s first steps the thought lurks that her child is preparing to leave her. Trivial everyday incidents abound in these poems, in exquisitely sensual, at times even bravely erotic images (witness an audacious description of the sweetheart’s foot). The gentle idyll at the start of the volume finds a response in the dour experience of death with which it ends. "In these poems Anna T. Szabó does not pretend this is a world of untrammelled happiness, but what she outlines is that in this world only relationships founded on love can create points of repose, even though these relationships lie under the threat of decline over time." István Margócsy, Élet és Irodalom With its throbbing, dactylic rhythm, the title poem presents the anguish of love, the dual optics of happiness, which shows both its achievable completeness and its losable state. The poem’s emblematic pair is “On the Top”, where the mountain peak, the fulfilment of happiness, immediately marks the beginning of slopes, of loss. Anna Szabó T. planned the arch of the book accordingly: first, like in her previous volume, there are poems of motherhood, about the newborn baby, followed by the small child’s (indeed dramatic) monologues, and then there come great poems of love (the real novelty in this volume, in the cycle called “We Say Fire”). In the middle of the book, continuing the poetic experiences of previous volumes, there are the poems of sensuality, of precise observation, of belief and existence (one of the most complex of which is “The Longest Day”)—while in the last cycles there looms the world of sickness, of old age and death in the form of memories, sights, nightmares and projections of the future. “One of the main sources for the dynamism in She Leaves Me is indeed this dual aspect: the constant oscillation between the adult’s doubts and the child’s confidence, the experiences of fleeting time and the mysticism of the moment, the disbelief originating in pain and the unconditioned certainty of happiness.” -Katalin Szlukovényi “Anna Szabó T. manages to create the blissful intimacy she talks about in one half of the poems, while, as she states in the other half, our fate, from the moment of our birth, is being caste out. Her world is kept in a fragile balance by powerful poems.” -Győző Ferencz

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