Istvan Vörös

Portrait Istvan Vörös
© Hartwig Klappert

István Vörös was born in Budapest in 1964. In addition to his jobs as library stacker and worker at a museum he published his first book of poems, »Só, kenyér« (t: Salt, bread) in 1988, together with the short story collection »Innenvilág« (t: The world from here). Following the fall of Communist rule, he studied Hungarian and Czech, then worked as a lecturer, completing a doctoral thesis in 1998. He currently teaches at the Institute for Czech Philology at the Catholic University in Budapest and also gives creative writing classes.
Vörös is one of the most celebrated Hungarian poets of his generation. Along with ten collections of poems he has also written essays, reviews and short stories. He has been awarded Hungarian and Czech prizes such as the Füst Milan Prize and recently Prague’s Premia Bohemica for his translations of Czech writers, among them Miroslav Holub, Ivan Wernisch, Petr Borkovec and Vladimír Holan. His own work has been translated into several languages, including English, French, Italian, Slovenian, Slovak, Romanian, Polish, Bulgarian and Czech, and has been featured in anthologies such as »Contemporary Hungarian Poetry« (1997) and »Budapester Szenen« (1999; t: Budapest scenes). The volume of poetry »Die leere Grapefruit« (2004; t: The empty grapefruit, after the epononymous poem »Az üres grapefruit«) has appeared in German, comprised of a selection from »A darázs tanításai« (2000; t: The teachings of the wasp) and hitherto unpublished poems. Memorable and precisely formulated images from everyday life are carried over into a dreamlike and surreal state, giving the poems an undefined, allegorical character. His mother baking strudel watched by her grandson, a bicycle ride with his son or his impressions of New York as a tourist become, like well-known paintings or poems, the point of departure for transforming the familiar into something quietly astonishing. So too, even feelings such as mourning, melancholy and tedium, are led into a cathartic process of profound change. »A still and concentrated, dancerlike form which lays out the cavities and perils of humanity in language devoid of pathos«, witnesses the »Neue Zürcher Zeitung« of this author, who with »a gentle and casual sense of the profane« reflects on the inseparability of life and death.
Vörös has been awarded numerous prizes, among them the Tibor Déry Prize, the Vilenica Crystal Award, the Attila József Prize and the Hubert Burda Prize. Most recently published in Hungarian is his collection of poems entitled »Heidegger, a postahivatalnok« (2004; t: Heidegger, the postalworker), the poems for children »A hajnali tolvaj« (2004; t: The thief at dawn) and »Gregorián az erdön« (2005; t: Gregorián in the forest). The author lives in Budapest and is currently a guest of the German Academic Exchange Service in Berlin.

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