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( 1942 )


1942 born in Zagyvarékás, north of Szolnok
1959-62 manual worker in Budapest
1962 contributes to Szolnok County newspaper
1968 poetry editor for the Miskolc-based magazine, Napjaink (Our Days)
1990 manager of the Felsőmagyarország Kiadó publishing house, chief editor of the magazine Holnap (Tomorrow)
1995 on the editorial board of Új Holnap (New Tomorrow)

1991 Attila József Prize

Simon Serfőző’s Plays

Serfőző Simon színművei (Simon Serfőző’s Plays) The three one-act plays—Fearmongers (1975), Homeless People (1979), At All Costs (1985)—present the life of Hungarian farmlands and villages from the violent collectivisation forced on the Hungarian peasantry through its immediate results, as villagers began to lead a double-life, commuting to the city or settling down there with great difficulty. “In his belief, on the stage of the world full of great lies, only truth has a say.” -István Cs. Varga.

The Seer of the Future

Jövőlátó (The Seer of the Future) 2000 Simon Serfőző’s drama depicts Saint Stephen, the founder of the nation, who turned Hungary to Christianity. In the play, we see the sweep of Hungarian history, including its most tragic figures and events (familiar from the Hungarian national anthem); through the historical figures evoked, the play suggests that the Hungarian nation can trust only itself, its sound judgment, coherence, tolerance, and in Providence. “In presenting the age and his characters, Serfőző relies on trustworthy scholars and writers, not some ‘has-been’ fanatics, superficial enthusiasts or charlatans. He has analysed his sources without commenting on them, but on the whole used them wonderfully. He is interested in the compelling possibilities of ascertaining facts more than in the difficulties of interpretation, argumentation or persuasion.” - István Cs. Varga

Near and Far. Selected Pomes, 1961-2002

Közel, távol (Near and Far. Selected Pomes, 1961-2002) For his latest volume, Simon Serfőző has made a selection from his poetry of the past forty years. His name has long been associated with “The Seven”, one of the distinctive new groups of poets that appeared in Hungary in the late 1960s and sought to revive more traditional sorts of poetry. An enduring love of his homeland and a desire to preserve its values drive his writing, not just his prose works and their examination of rural life, but also his poetry, the elevation of “Hungarian reality” into verse being the self-appointed mission that he shares with others of his generation. Serfőző’s particular ties, from the start to the present, have been to the landscape and people of the neglected, poorer eastern part of Hungary. As he noted in an earlier self-avowal: “I wrote about those I had left behind at home, about the fates of myself and others, the hard lives of those who find it hard to speak, dwelling at the poorer ends of villages or in inner-city slums and suburban wastelands. I wrote for them, so it would be easier to bear the burdens if their voices were not silenced.” The poetry is graphic, presenting cavalcades of situations drawn from life in a flinty language almost sociographic in its sparseness. A land flooded over with farm plots. Furrows undulate up to the pigsty’s high roof Eagle screams in the Sun-smoke. Hayrick, blow-fly take fright I see the village-end of stillness, summer kitchens before farmsteads, sitting outside in the dust. (from “Our home: this land”) Even when Serfőző muses on public concerns, his imagery still derives from nature. In several of his longer poems, reference is made to contemporaries who have not been understood and are unjustly neglected as a result. Through the sensual passion and energy of his language and his renewal of the traditions of Hungary’s pre-war agrarian-populist writers, Serfőző succeeds in creating a sovereign poetic world. “The lyric poet’s calculating retrospective in the oeuvre of Simon Serfőző is richly complemented by his work as a dramatist, prose writer, author of sociographic reports, essayist and publicist.” -Zoltán Bertha, Hungarian Journal

Children’s Time

Gyerekidő (Children’s Time) 2002 Simon Serfőző’s autobiographic trilogy (The Little Savage, Hares in the Snare, Restless) spans nine years from the 1950s to the 1960s. The powerful Bildungsroman captures with a child’s eye how farmers were forced into state-owned agricultural co-operatives and what effects this had on farmlands and the country. “It is easy to track the development of responsibility, felt not only for the close community of the family but for the whole social class that had been ruined, disdained and dispossessed in the past and never properly recompensed. In this slowly and gradually sensed reality there are several shocking realisations that help to render the writer’s responsibility a determining factor for life. Each novel reaches its summit in such experiences, and it is through climbing them that it becomes possible for the protagonist to see new horizons leading into the future, preparing him to another road that fate has marked out for him.” -Anna Horánszky

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