Zoltán Beck

Foto: Támás Lékó

Zoltán Beck was born in Ajka, Hungary, in 1971, and is a songwriter, singer and teacher of Roma Studies at the University of Pécs. With his brother, László Beck, he started the alternative rock band 30Y in 2000. Musically, the five-piece band is close to 90s American rock music, but their style resists categorisation. In 2012 Beck was awarded the prize for Song of the Year for ‘Azért jöttem’ (That’s Why I Came). As well as his own texts, he sets the poems of contemporary Hungarian poets to music.

Discography (a selection):

Nr. 4 (2008)
(Stadtmensch) (2010)
(Sentimetale) (2012)

Szilárd Borbély

Szilárd Borbély was born in Fehérgyarmat, Hungary, in 1964. He achieved his literary breakthrough with his book-length poem Hosszú nap el (Long Day Far Away). Since then he has published many books of poetry as well as plays, librettos, essays and short stories. His poetry collection Halotti pompa (Splendour of Corpses) deals with the tragedy that beset his family at Christmas 2000, when burglars brutally murdered his mother and seriously injured his father. Borbély deals with this by drawing on the figures and motifs of ars moriendi, interweaving them with references to Christian and Jewish traditions.

Szilárd Borbély teaches Old Hungarian Literature at the University of Debrecen and translates from the German and English. His translations include work by Rumjana Zacharieva, Monika Rinck, Robert Gernhardt and Durs Grünbein. Among other distinctions, Borbély has been awarded a Soros fellowship twice and has won the Attila József Prize (2002) and the Artisjus Literature Prize (2011).

Publications (a selection)

Hosszú nap el (Long Day Far Away) (Jelenkor 1993)
Berlin – Hamlet
(Jelenkor 2003)
Halotti pompa
(Splendour of Corpses) (Kalligram 2004)'
Egy gyilkosság mellékszálai
(Side Strands to a Crime) (Vigilia 2007)
A testhez 
(On the Body) (Kalligram 2010)

In German translation:

Dichterpaare - Költőpárok, Band 8: Borbély Szilárd – Michael Donhauser (Kortina 2009)

Orsolya Kalász

Orsolya Kalász (born in Dunaújváros, Hungary in 1964) lives in Budapest and Berlin. She has been working as a writer and translator since 1984. Her father, the Hungarian writer and poet Márton Kalász, worked in the House Of Hungarian Culture in East Berlin in the early 1970s, where she went to German primary school until 1974. After leaving school in Hungary she studied German and Hungarian Literature and Linguistics at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. Orsolya Kalász is equally at home in the Hungarian and German languages. In her poems she plays with the idiomatic interferences between the two languages, exploring possibilities for such a dialogue. Monika Rinck has written of her that her poems testify to “foreignness and the ability to live with this foreignness.“ In particular in her translations she does great service to the exchange between Hungarian and German literature. Together with Gerhard Falkner she edited the acclaimed anthology Budapester Szenen. Her next collection is forthcoming from Brüterich Press in July 2016.

Publications (Auswahl):
Sandfuge. Gedichte. Merz & Solitude, Stuttgart 2009
Naive Pflanze. Merz & Solitude, Stuttgart 2008
alles, was wird, will seinen strauch. With an essay by Monika Rinck. gutleut verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2007
Budapester Szenen. Junge ungarische Lyrik. (ed.) DuMont Verlag, Cologne 1999
Babymonster und die Gärtner. Poetische Bögen: Heft XII. Connewitzer Verlagsbuchhandlung, Leipzig 1997

István Kemény

Foto: Sándor Szábo

István Kemény was born in Budapest in 1961 He gained a lot of attention as a poet even with his first publications in the 1980s, and his flat was for many years a meeting-place for the younger generation of Hungarian writers. It was largely his commitment that led to the publication of the poetry anthology Budapest Scenes. Young Hungarian Poetry in 1999. In 2011 his poem ‘Farewell Letter’ gained wide resonance not only in Hungary’s literary scene but also in the general public. In it, Kemény thematises alienation from his home country, whose political development he observes with great concern, but to which he nevertheless feels bound in the depths of his being.

As well as poetry collections, Kemény has also published essays, short stories, screenplays and novels. He has received many prizes, including the Wreath of Honour of the Republic of Hungary in 2007. In 2010, István Kemény was a guest of the Berlin Artists’ Programme of the DAAD.

Publications (a selection)

Állástalan táncosnő. Összegyűjtött versek 1980-2006 (Dancer without engagement. Collected Poems) (Magvető 2011)
A királynál
(With the King. Poems) (Magvető 2012)
Kedves Ismeretlen
(Dear Unknown Person. Novel) (Magvető, Budapest, 2009)

Tibor Szemző

Foto: Hamaritis

Tibor Szemző was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1955 and is a composer, performer and media artist. His work is concerned with combining music with performative and filmic elements. With his band The Gordian Knot, featuring a changing line-up, he performs chamber music and orchestral works. As well as pursuing a solo career, Szemző has been a co-founder of several influential groups of artists since the 1970s, including Group 180, Takarmánybázis and Gordiusi Čomó.

Works (a selection):

Hamlet (chamber opera) (2007)
Láthatatlan történet (film and sound installation) (2008)
Üzenet – dr.
Kafka utolsó szerelme (film and music) (2013)


Danube Exodus (Leo Records 2002)
South of No North
(Leo Records 2003)
A Guest of Life
(Fantasy Film Hungary 2007)
Invisible Story
(Leo Records 2011)

Petra Szőcs

Petra Szőcs was born in Kolozsvár, Romania, in 1981, and is a poet and screenwriter. She studied at the Academy for Film and Theatre in Budapest. Her first poems were published in 2009, and in 2013 she published her first collection, Kétvízköz (Alley Between Waters). Her poems touch on the topic of the family with all its pleasant as well as dark sides.


Kétvízköz (Alley Between Waters) (Magvető kiadó, forthcoming)

Short films:
A mindenes
(2007) (The Henchman)
Aki bújt
(2009) (Everything Must be Hidden)
A kivégzés
(2014) (The Execution)

Péter Závada

Even as a teenager, Péter Závada, who was born in Budapest in 1982, achieved success with the rap and slam formation ‘Sons of the Beginning’. They initially wrote their witty and provocative texts in English, but subsequently in Hungarian. One of their song lyrics was even introduced as the subject of an oral examination for the Abitur school leaving certificate in a gymnasium in Pécs in 2012.

Since 2009, Závada has been publishing poems in the main Hungarian literary journals such as Holmi and Jelenkor, and his first collection, Ahol megszakad (Where it Tears Off), came out in 2012. In his poetry he combines combative language with the slang arrogance of the street. He approaches the Hungarian tradition of poetry in a clever and self-assured way.

Závada studied English and Italian in Budapest, then lived for some time in California, and then in Paris. He works as, among other things, a language teacher and advertising copy writer.


Ahol megszakad (Where it Tears Off) (Libri könyvkiadó 2012)

Presszó Tangó Libidó

Viktor Kabai (guitar and vocals), János Keszei (accordion) and Bence Lajkó (trumpet) started the alternative rock band Presszó Tangó Libidó in the autumn of 2005. They were joined a year later by Zoltán Aknay (drums) and Gergő Török (bass). Presszó Tangó Libidó play a mixture of ska, chanson and rock´n´roll. As so often in the alternative Hungarian music scene, they combine poetically sophisticated. laconic and sarcastic lyrics with laid-back dance music. Presszó Tangó Libidó transmit a joie de vivre that can be described as typically Central Eastern European – and that is also the name of their first studio album, released last year.


Középkeleteurópai (Central Eastern European) (2012)