poetry in action #13 | Kinga Tóth | Translated by Owen Good

poetry in action features work by poets from around the world, translated into English.

It has three rallying cries:

Poets of the world, unite and take over!

Resist the oppressive constraints of good, publishable poetry established by mainstream literary venues!

Only poetry in translation, all the time!

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says the graffitismile lemonyellow

circlehead says the poster helle freude kommt

great joy we write laughing heads new lines

creased by our own curiosities

frauen pfeifen winds of change

in turkey are villages in the back of beyond

where hands come to mouths and not a breath

of wind in the harbour no warning signs the road

the river the crossing not a bother in skirts

not deep not pointing

over hill and into skirt and into apron goes

the road tür auf tür zu say new commercials come on in

da is washing ma is cooking fremde an der tür

the fireblaze the pot the bedbugs strangers

in the door no one says nowt when they escape

sirens whistling pot forgotten boiled over boiled dry

ma da all the rest of them in the volunteerforce

wir sind europas herz say stickers

for pinkpower women of the antifa

wear a new hat es ist wieder donnerstag

in our wee country petitions and bridges are freedom

circleheads whistling from the back of beyond

leere häuser vacant houses where all the rest

where all the world is a ways away

a ways awaxelexilexlxwhhhistling

the women on rocks down shoughs

on the eu border zu hause ist alles super mann

itthon minden szuper it’s all good at home

peace by piece we’re building and fixing

mind the lakk mama says our ma

mind they don’t pull you over the car old and red and not pretty

whistling won’t always carry on the wind this is the new wave

the new sturm und drang backpacking

through our gap years welding mamatrabigo

can you see us budapest? can you hear us from the gimnázium

from the kollégium from the metrokocsi? from the settee

from the free country i read you on postcards

i collect petitició and copy

my signature mama still whistling

lots are buried here you say none

of them new nowt only the nobility

get burials they don’t decay good organs

go elsewhere too the rest

up the hill to the last root

to the rubble

where you tell me stories of countries

mama here overhead mama who’ll take up or

take to them a new tongue

where porcelán and overhead virágsmell limonádésmell

mama let’s do the weeding between your rocks

here’s where all them men loved you mama here’s where you sent them packing

here’s where you went full pelt to back off out of your way

or not to pull you over you crossing the fence

in our common tongue will we cross

the border with you? will new life work with ten words?

you fix it all eventually but

what do you gain, what about the rest?

is that a kitchen cupboard puddingsmell

in you and you in it too in bits

you won’t fit the stairs the flirts the heat

the papers érvénytelen lakhatási dokumentum

comicbook photograph postcard holywater limewall

with you all declared the invalid the incorrect the approved

where a stamp is not a must anymore but better but

when it is better when onto the wall of this house a good bit

a ways away over here the sun ought to shine here too

here is where she kicked the fence through here she was home

in that other place it’s all gone mama

just hairstyling one with lakk another mousse

little waves solid poofy curls

lakk lacq leave it on let it sit

let it harden let it hold






Kinga Tóth (1983, Sárvár, Hungary) writes in Hungarian, German and English. She is a writer, musician, extensive vocalist, visual and sound-poet. Her English collections include PARTY (BIRDS LCC, 2018), Village 0-24 (Melting Books, 2016), and also in Hungarian and German: All Machine and The Moonlight Faces. She was resident at Iowa International Writing Program. Her work has featured in Colony, POETRY, York Literary Review, Wretched Strangers Anthology, Words Without Borders, Asymptote. Winner of the 2020 Hugo Ball Förderpreis for her intermedia art and literary work, and the 2020 Bernard Heidsieck Prize in Centre Pompidou for her literature-media-performance work. www.kingatoth.com


Owen Good is a translator of Hungarian poetry and prose from the North of Ireland. His debut book translation, Krisztina Tóth’s Pixel (Seagull Books, 2019), took runner-up in the 2020 EBRD Literary Prize, and has been longlisted for the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. Elsewhere his work has appeared in Asymptote, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Moth, Ploughshares among others. He is editor of Hungarian Literature Online. @OwenDGood


poetry in action is an Action Books blog feature curated and edited by Katherine M. Hedeen (@kmhedeenwith web editing by Paul Cunningham.

November 20th, 2020|
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