The body is the 'bad machine' of George Szirtes' latest book of poems. The sudden death of his elderly father and of his younger friend, the poet Michael Murphy, remind him how machines - sources of energy and delight in their prime - go so easily wrong; and that change in the body is a signal for moving on. But language too is a body. Here, politics, assimilation, desire, creatureliness and the pleasure and loss of the body, mingle in various attenuated forms such as lexicon, canzone, acrostics, mirror poems, postcards, and a series of 'minimenta' after Anselm Kiefer whose love of history as rubble and monument haunts this collection. George Szirtes is one of our most inventive - and constantly reinventing - poets, and Bad Machine shows him developing new themes and new ways of writing in poems which stretch the possibilities of form and question language and its mastery.
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George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948, and came to England with his family after the 1956 Hungarian Uprising. He was educated in England, training as a painter, and has always written in English. In recent years he has worked as a translator of Hungarian literature, producing editions of such writers as Otto Orban, Zsuzsa Rakovszky and Agnes Nemes Nagy. He co-edited Bloodaxe's Hungarian anthology The Colonnade of Teeth. His Bloodaxe poetry books are The Budapest File (2000); An English Apocalypse (2001); Reel (2004), winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize; New & Collected Poems (2008); The Burning of the Books and other poems (2009), shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2009; and Bad Machine (2013). Bloodaxe has also published John Sears' critical study Reading George Szirtes (2008). Szirtes lives in Norfolk and teaches at the University of East Anglia.Review:
“I can’t think of anyone but Louis MacNeice whose work has struck me as having such a combination of sheer verbal energy, contemporary pertinence and acuity, formal legerdemain, imaginative elan and fertile, courageous strangeness.” (Marilyn Hacker)
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