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Gáspár NAGY
( 1949 - 2007 )

» Crown Fire (1975)
» Our Future Passing (1989)
» Free Slaves (2000)


1949 born in Bérbaltavár; graduates from the Benedictine Grammar School of Pannonhalma
1971 earns degree in Library Science and Social Work in Szombathely, moves to Budapest to study Aesthetics and Sociology
1976-1980 editor at Móra Publishing House
1981-85 secretary of Hungarian Writer`s Association
1988 editor of the periodical Hitel
2007 dies in Budapest

Major Prizes:
1977 Radnóti Prize, 1985 Attila József Prize (Cleveland, Ohio), 1990 Attila József Prize, 1992 Artisjus Prize, 1995 Imre Nagy Memorial Award, 1994 Prize of the periodical Tiszatáj, 2000 Kossuth Prize, 2006 Prize of Hungarian Heritage

Crown Fire

Koronatűz (1975, Crown Fire) Even in Gáspár Nagy’s first volume of poems, the voices of István Kormos and László Nagy are discernible next to his own uniquely individual tone. The chief motif in this volume is birth, be it that of the poet, Jesus Christ or every human being. At the same time, love, infinity and the importance of tradition also rise to the surface. The title refers to György Dózsa’s crown of fire, declaring the ethical necessity to rebel even at the price of death. It is no wonder that later it was Nagy’s poem “Endless Summer: I Turned Nine”, written in memory of another executed leader, Imre Nagy, (Prime Minister during the Hungarian Uprising in 1956), that demonstrated the spirit of resistance during the Communist regime.

Our Future Passing

Múlik a jövőnk (1989, Our Future Passing) This volume is dedicated to the memory of Nagy’s parents and is comprised of poems written between 1968 and 1989. In the name of ethical behaviour, the poet not only pays attention to himself and his environment, but writes poems for Transylvanian and Yugoslavian Hungarians as well, his companions in upholding responsibility for their common nation. “The dead do not talk back / the dead abide anything” – but Nagy will never forget the martyrs of the Revolution. He has no fear of touching on the subjects that were strictly forbidden to mention during the Communist regime. He knows that politics suggest “to stay away from the wild party, / when it’s already virtually chic to be a Byzantine-boy, / when opinions to the second power, / innocent apologists to the third power, / and a pregnant wastebasket snitches / in every office corner / just to sit very still / not to move / not to speak / not to understand/ not to know/ to shake the head / all the while swallowing this and that, / gulping back some slobber . . .” (Noli tangere! Translated by Len Roberts)

Free Slaves

Szabadrabok (2000, Free Slaves) Amidst the silences and gagging of truth imposed by the official taboos operating during Hungary’s Communist era, Gáspár Nagy managed to achieve somewhat of a cult status by seeking to express openly the stifled feelings that simmered beneath the deceptively unruffled surface. This he did at no small personal risk; one group of his poems with their clear allusions to the unburied and bodies and betrayals of the 1956 Revolution so enraged the state authorities that they closed down the magazine which had dared to print them. This and many more of his famous great poems may be found in this comprehensive cross-section of his oeuvre that was published to mark the poet’s fiftieth birthday. To suggest that the bounds of Nagy’s poetry are limited by politics would be to ignore the models that Nagy also saw in classical and modern masters and would thus fail to give justice to the full-sweep colourfulness and multifaceted lyricism of a poetic world in which richly textured forms and a classical poetic mien are offset by irony and colloquial simplicity.

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