A brand new UK tour of poetry & performance – from Lydia Towsey, Shruti Chauhan and Jean Binta Breeze MBE

NOTES ON MIGRATION 4 / GEORGE SZIRTES / #WhosYourNeighbour?

As a number of wonderful poets get involved with our #WhosYourNeighbour? campaign – many thanks to the mighty George Szirtes for generously volunteering this gorgeous piece.

More to follow… If you’d like to get involved, please tweet us @3HardWayPoets along with the hashtag #WhosYourNeighbour – with a link to the work as text and/or a recorded reading. For full details see here.

NOTES ON MIGRATION 4
GEORGE SZIRTES

Here’s the comfort zone:
an off-season boarding-house
and the full English.
*
Here’s the promenade
with its amusement arcades
and head-churning tunes.
*
The Winter Gardens
with its wrestling. The packed hall.
Beer and pools of rain.
*
Learning the language
they spit their harsh consonants
into the damp wind.
*
Learning the language
a comical dog scampers
after the late rain.
*
Learning the language
one stubs out his cigarette
on the teacher’s leg.
*
The foreign ladies
and gentlemen have gathered
for a homely snap.
*
Foreigners meeting
on the narrow stairs. Where now,
they ask. Where ever?
*
The sea is burning
in winter sunlight. Language
dips its tongue in it.

GEORGE SZIRTES – was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956. He was brought up in London and studied Fine Art in London and Leeds. His poems began appearing in national magazines in 1973 and his first book, The Slant Door, was published in 1979. It won the Faber Memorial prize the following year.

By this time he was married with two children. After the publication of his second book, November and May, 1982, he was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Since then he has published several books and won various other prizes including the T S Eliot Prize for Reel in 2005.

Having returned to his birthplace, Budapest, for the first time in 1984, he has also worked extensively as a translator of poems, novels, plays and essays and has won various prizes and awards in this sphere. His own work has been translated into numerous languages.

Beside his work in poetry and translation he has written Exercise of Power, a study of the artist Ana Maria Pacheco, and, together with Penelope Lively, edited New Writing 10 published by Picador in 2001.

George Szirtes lives near Norwich with his wife, the painter Clarissa Upchurch. Together they ran The Starwheel Press. Corvina has recently produced Budapest: Image, Poem, Film, their collaboration in poetry and visual work.

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