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It ​is unusual for a poet who is quite so young (b.1950) and who has published relatively little, to be granted the status of a major poet-in-waiting that translation may seem to bestow. Nevertheless, when a voice is as clear, as capable of speaking so passionately yet intelligently, as that of Zsuzsa Rakovszky’s, people do tend to sit up and pay attention. Rakovszky has won all the major literary prizes available: the Graves Prize, the much coveted József Attila Prize, and the Déry Prize, twice. Some of her poems have appeared in England, the United States, and Germany; her Collected Poems are in preparation in Hungary.

The world of her poems is recognisably the world of her readers: a shifting urban landscape of noisy neighbours, malfunctioning television sets, shadows on landings, snatched meetings, and dying ideologies. Rakovszky’s tone is racy, fast, flittering, but precise, and despite the elaborate forms, she is essentially informal. George Szirtes intention in these wonderful translations, has been to make her sound in English, as she sounds to him in Hungarian.

It is partly the classical contral, partly the brilliant clarity of her observations, that as attracted readers. While her poems tend to concentrate on private experiences, with the themes of love, deceit, guilt, identity, and personal loss uppermost, there is a current feeling that encompasses a more general and public sense of place and identity.

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