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George Szirtes



Faber Memorial Prize, 1980 - for The Slant Door 

Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, 1982 

Arts Council Travelling Scholarship, 1984 

Cholmondeley Prize, 1986 

Dery Prize for Translation, 1990 - for The Tragedy of Man 

Gold Star of the Hungarian Republic, 1991 

Short listed for Whitbread Poetry Prize, 1992 - for Bridge Passages 

European Poetry Translation Prize, 1995 - for New Life 

Shortlisted for Aristeion Translation Prize 1996 - for New Life 

Sony Bronze Award, 1999 - for contribution to BBC Radio Three, Danube programmes (5 x 20 minutes) 

Shortlisted for Weidenfeld Prize, 1999 - for The Adventures of Sindbad 

Shortlisted for Forward Prize 1999 - Single Poem, "Backwaters: Norfolk Fields"

George Cushing Prize, 2001 - Anglo-Hungarian relations

Travelling Scholarship from The Society of Authors, 2002
He will spend this partly on a US tour, but chiefly on a visit to China

Seven books Poetry Book Society Choices or RecommendationsShort Wave, The Photographer in Winter, Metro, Bridge Passages, The Colonnade of Teeth, Portrait of my Father in an English Landscape, The Budapest File, An English Apocalypse

Seven books named books of the year in various national newspapers:  The Photographer in Winter, Metro, Anna Édes, New Life, Selected Poems, Portrait of my Father in an English Landscape, The Budapest File

PBS 'Choice' and Shortlisted for TS Eliot Prize 2004 - for REEL.

International Writer Fellow, Trinity College, Dublin 2000 

British Council Scholar in Hungary 1985, 87, and 89 

Appearances at many festivals and conferences in Europe, USA and UK 

To be resident writer at BCLT Conference, Cambridge, July 2002 

To be resident writer at Tonbridge School, October 2002


Very many works for radio, the most recent being "Transylvana", "Portrait of My Father in an English Landscape", "The Lullaby of Broadway" and "The Old Scouts", all broadcast on BBC Radio 3 or 4. 

Beside poetry he has often appeared as a critic on various book programmes and as a cultural journalist. 

For television, most recently: sonnet for National Poetry Day 2000.


Author of some sixteen plays, musicals, opera libretti and oratorios, most recently Air Kissing with the composer Jane Wells, to be premiered at the Chard Festival in 2003.


For several years operated and contributed (as an artist) to The Starwheel Press.

BBC Radio 3: "Hungarian poet, George Szirtes, describes the creative - and often frustrating - process of writing his first novel, set in the murky world of wrestling."

Bloodaxe Books - Author Page,6000,581382,00.html

Wrestling with Englishness Hungarian émigré George Szirtes tells James Hopkin about his dual tongues (Saturday October 27, 2001).

"Desperado Literature" site  - Lidia Vianu interviews George Szirtes


Early Music


The little one was a slow speaker. Not until
The toy violin fell on his head did he mutter
The word 'violin' like a minor miracle.

Language opened its doors to him. He would utter
Prophecies and curses in the vocabulary of music.
Music ran through his fingers like melted butter.

Music would be the saving of him, music or magic.
Life would exercise him no more than those quaint
Ornaments he mastered, the beginner's trick

Of sounding like genius. Women would faint
To hear him, he was so beautiful to see,
And practised night and day without complaint.

Romantic reveries nurtured the folly
Of his parents. Monstrous hopes sat on the stairs
Frowning darkly at the happy family,

(Who were they to give themselves such airs?)
But music was aspiration, they could not breathe without it.
It was the flowering of their sad affairs.

The dead, undoubtedly, were firmly behind it,
Their bloodied faces and emaciated bodies
Resounding through the child, endlessly implicit,

In scales, arpeggios and those awkward studies.


(© George Szirtes 2001, To appear in Poetry Wales)




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