Budapest Transfer


4. BUDAPEST TRANSFER INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 2009 - BABEL TOUR Jerzy Jarniewicz (Poland) – György Spiró (Hungary) 30th September – 4th October 2009 PETŐFI IRODALMI MÚZEUM

Saturday 3 October 2009, 8:00 pm


The 4th international festival Budapest Transfer will be held in Budapest, 30th September – 4th October 2009. The theme of the festival this year is Babel Tour – Understanding and Misunderstanding.

30 September - 4th October 2009
1053 Budapest Károlyi Mihály utca 16.

The world was created by language: creation takes place based on God’s words. Language therefore is a means of creation, it gives the world meaning. The mind and human thinking was also inspired by language, therefore language is a means of understanding as well. God created the world and man believed that he could understand creation and make sense of his own place in it. Man thought he could do anything. He thought he could build a tower to reach the sky in order to be up and down, in and out of it, understand and speak the language at the same time. Then Babel came with all its experience for man to realize that it’s not only God he cannot understand but also his fellow man. This might be the reason for language becoming not just the vehicle but the subject of his mind, a subject which is as problematic, complex and inextricable as life itself.

Language: there are a lot of languages but most of us relate especially strongly to one. The one that enables and channels the mind, the one we can identify with and which represents our national identity, the one in which we communicate, which is an ongoing challenge causing misunderstandings sometimes and which keeps changing all the time. It is a vehicle of our every day descriptions and explanations as much as it is the leading force in literature, indispensable in both areas. It connects and departs us. It is one entity yet it has a lot of varieties including dialects, accents, registers and styles. We can cultivate, create, re-create and ruin it. We can fight, play and live with it.

Similarly to previous years’ tradition, there will be roundtables, readings, concerts, performances, film screenings to assure the widest possible representation of the subject.


30 September

17.00 Festival Hall - Festival opening
MÉHES-KÉK – pantomime performance by Csaba Méhes

17.30 Festival Hall - What does language mean?
Language is an impressive and fascinating human capacity, and human languages are strikingly powerful and complex systems. (modern languages, dead languages, language and media)
Roundtable discussion with the participation of representatives of different fields of arts and sciences. The participants are as follows:
Mária Gósy (psycholinguist)
Marcell Mártonffy (theologian)
Gábor Prószéky (linguist)
László Tardy (chorus-master)
Pál Závada (writer)

Moderator: Ádám Nádasdy (linguist)

20.30 Festival Hall - Concert of Balázs Elemér Group (Jazz)
Personal trait in sounding, special world of rhytm, exciting contrast of male and female voices.
Ticket: HUF 1800

1 October

16.00 Poetry Line – lyrikline is 10!
The Goethe Institute in cooperation with the Petőfi Literary Museum will announce the results of the jointly organised translation competition to celebrate the 10th anniversary of, the multimedia poetry website

Christiane Lange, Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, Deputy-Director will give-out the awards

18.00 Changing Languages: mother tongue – second language – the writer’s language
Reading and discussion with Agota Kristof, the festival’s guest of honour. The writer of Hungarian background living in Switerland will talk with a fellow writer, András Petőcz.
The event is supported by Pro Helvetia, The Swiss Cultural Fund
Entrance with museum ticket only.

20.30 Fáj (Hurt) - It Hurts
Film screening of the performance of students of the University of Theatre, Film and Media, Budapest based on Agota Kristof’s novel, The Big Exercise-Book
Discussion with the authors
Guest: Péter Forgács, film-director

2 October

16.00 Poem smuggler
Reading and discussion of poets translating each other’s poetry
Benno Barnard (Belgium) – Lackfi János
Our partner: Communauté flamande de Belgique

18.00 Language and cultural identity
Does language isolate or connect us? How does language help us in mainating our self-identity? To what extent are Basque, Irish, Flemish, Walloon, Alsatian or Csángó spoken modern languages? And Latin? How can the language o fan ethnic minority become a literary language? What is the role of artificial languages in culture?
Roundtable discussion with the participation of
Javier Pérez Bazo, Director, Cervantes Institute, Budapest, Jérôme Bloch, Vice Director, French Institute, Budapest and Laura Iancu, Csángó poet
Moderator: Balázs Lévai
Partners: Cervantes Institute, Budapest and French Institute, Budapest

20.00 Readings and discussion with festival guests
Márton Kalász poet, translator (Hungary),
Martin Graff writer (France),
Georgi Mihalkov writer (Bulgaria)
Moderator: Balázs Lévai
Performer: Rémusz Szikszai, actor
Partners: Bulgarian Cultural Institute and French Institute, Budapest

3 October

14.00-16.00 Lyrikline is 10!
Poetry-Route in Ráday Street
Public reading of the best translations of the translation competition organised jointly by the Goethe Institute and the Petőfi Literary Museum to celebrate the ten-year-old

18.00 Poem Smuggler
Readings and discussion to put translation, the problematic and most special cases of transformation into a wider context

The invited poets are:
Petr Hru¹ka (Csehország) and István Vörös (Hungary)
Jerzy Jarniewicz (Poland) –György Spiró (Hungary)
Benno Barnard (Belgium) – János Lackfi (Hungary)
Isabel Pérez Montalbán (Spain) – András Simor (Hungary)
Partners: Czech Centre, Polish Institute, Slovak Institute, Cervantes Institute, Budapest

4 October

11.00 „Babel Talk”
Language-traps from clichés to language populism
Closing discusssion with the festival participants of Babel Tour and By the Danube
Keynote: László Végel, writer (Novy Sad)
The event is jointly organised by the Ráday Bookshop and the Petőfi Literary Museum

JERZY JARNIEWICZ (b. 1958 in Łowicz) is a Polish poet, translator and literary critic, who lectures in English at the universities of Łódź and Warsaw. He has published nine volumes of poetry, six critical books on contemporary British, Irish and American literature (most recently a study of Seamus Heaney and on Philip Larkin), and has written extensively for various journals, including Poetry Review, Irish Review, Cambridge Review. His poetry has been translated into many languages and presented in international magazines, including Index on Censorship, Paris Review, Oxford Poetry, Poetry Wales, and in The Penguin Book of the Twentieth Century in Poetry (1999). He is editor of the literary monthly Literatura na Swiecie (Warsaw) and has translated the work of many novelists and poets, including James Joyce, Philip Roth, Edmund White, John Banville, Seamus Heaney, Craig Raine, Simon Armitage. In 1999 he attended International Writers Program in Iowa, and in 2006 he was writer-in-residence at Farmleigh, Dublin. Lives in Lodz.

Jerzy Jarniewicz - POEMS

Nansen Passport [Paszport Nansena]

pour A. L.

Who told you, when and in what language,
that you speak a foreign language? A Spanish woman
from Catalonia? Or maybe the English guy
selling fireworks on the street in Edinburgh? Don’t go away,
we won’t be translating anything. I’d tell you
in Canadian that it’s too soon but I can see
a bead of sweat on your brow, and straight away
my language is mobilized. Silence. Let’s talk then
as the nationless: in the dictionary we have
Flemish kisses, Basque pinches,
Walloon whispers from ear to ear. Lost in translation?
You call my name in vowels I can’t
pronounce. I compose you out of foreign sounds.
Je t’embrasse. It will remain so. I’ve banished the translators.
We’re close if we are foreign to each other,
as the tree in the soil, as iris and horizon, as silence and the word,
I finally meeting I.

/translated by Zoe Skoulding/

Generation Relay [Sztafeta pokoleń]

The Zdrowie pool is going to be demolished.
Grass will be sown. From end to end
grass. Is there another word for it? Because
I’d like to be fully understood.
Grass doesn’t grow on cement,
I could say it in my own words
and so resolve uncertainties, at least some of them.
But you yourself must take the words to pieces,
the words in which we’ve been imprisoned. Go on listening
till you get results. As the time, so the language.
Don’t miss it: there are changes at the back of the eye. We are
running out of orangeade. Those who come after us
will be drinking Coca-Cola.
Pust wsiegda. Let it be. Amen.

/translated by Zoe Skoulding/

Here Come the Partisans [Idą leśni]

Forgotten years, and it will turn to ashes.
Grass will grow, the forest will flourish.
What can be said about this today? That it would last
no one, as I remember, gave their word. And no one
would keep such a promise. Back then I had a moustache
of Orangeade powder. And a white undershirt that read,
lonesome sailboat, it flapped in the wind.
We were surrounded by the partisans’ zigzag
trenches, these zigzags surrounded
me and you. The wind in the trees. Mushrooms grew.
Enticed by the smell of bodies
dogs came running in the night, blood
stained green shorts, and thighs
failed to heal all summer long.
No one made any promises. Today like a dog
at your feet, I lick your hand
and it tastes like lemon.

The title of the poem in Polish is the same as the title of a popular song, “Ida Lesni,” (literarily ‘The Forest People / Partisans Are Coming), celebrating the partisans who lived in the forest and fought against the Nazis during World War II. The phrase, “lonesome sailboat,” is from a poem, “Sail,” by Mikhail Lermontov.

/translated by Marit J. MacArthur/

A Hard Day’s Night [Noc po ciężkim dniu]

Let’s begin at the end: it was a hard day’s night,
you fell asleep in front of the T.V.
long before the black and white flag
was raised, and even the nightly anthem failed to wake you.
Sweet dreams, oh absent one;
in the morning the streets will be full
of flags and picket signs and banners
with unreadable slogans.
Are these Ultramontanists or maybe aficionados
of Marago coffee? I don’t know, I admit
I no longer understand the process of history
that goes on in my own backyard
and more and more I turn to the dictionary.
And what if the new edition is sold out? And what if
no one can read what you dreamt in front of the flag
because it was written in Chinese ideograms? And what if
there was no dream, since there’s no more Marago coffee,
and the hard day came to an end? I see you set up
the dominoes in perfect rows, on end.
May I begin?

/translated by Marit J. MacArthur/

Leaving the City [Wyjazd z miasta]

This city is a rigged match. So go
slowly and don’t look back. I can take
this risk for us, but for God’s sake,
don’t mention Lot, if you want to start
over. Or you might say, from zero.
The detour is a trap. Hot on our trail,
the streets run after us, the sidewalks nip at our heels,
after this corner, the next one lies in wait.
Here, my dear, one doesn’t live, here one is
lived. Illegally, without rights to the property.
And when you long to fall asleep, they scale the windows,
by night they change the color of the curtains.
We’re leaving the city. And for God’s sake,
don’t mention Herbert. The city is the city
is the city is the city. Everything before us
is opening like a hand. I am annoyed today
by your fingernails.

/translated by Marit J. MacArthur/

December (Epilogue) [Grudzień (Epilog)]

Twenty years ago they killed John Lennon

And you know, I said, that Don Quixote guy
has been dead a few centuries
plus Shakespeare won’t be writing much new?

You don’t say, he said, does that mean
carrion eaters?

And even that Billie Holliday track
you’ve been playing me this past hour
is just an obituary?

Don’t say, I say, don’t say.

/translated by David Malcolm/