Győző Ferencz is an award winning poet, well-known in his home country of Hungary. He is currently a professor of literature at Budapest’s ELTE University. Minoritie Status is the first dedicated volume of his work to appear in the UK. As Győző notes in the introduction to Minoritie Status, how exhilarating to see poetry move from “Hungarian, a language spoken by relatively few, into Scots, another language spoken by relatively few. It is a deeply European idea, against insularity, seclusion and its consequences, provincialism, intolerance, discrimination, bias, and violence.”
Tom Hubbard is a university lecturer, bibliographer, editor, Kirkcaldy native, and one of our finest – as well as most widely published – Scots language exponents. He has long been close friends with Győző; these rich, vivid owersettins are faithful representations of their Hungarian originals.
Dr Zsuzsanna Varga, Lecturer in Hungarian Studies at the University of Glasgow, has also contributed a short postface to Minoritie Status, in which she gives a brief overview of Scottish-Hungarian literary connections, providing a fascinating context for Tom and Győző ‘s work.
I byde ayont my mairches: I maun sairve
An empire and a folk that’s no my kind.
I dinna ken their leid, forby their weys
Scunner me. My schulin disnae bind
Mysel ti their tradeition. I’m no kneelin
Ti their gods, I dinnae keep their Sabbaths either.
Their law’s a kirkyaird o deid prose. I’m tint
In the tousie wab o systems. As fir siller,
It’s its ain law and logic apairt frae trade.
Vertue’s nae mair nor the unco-guid bangin on.
Shair, I’m officiallie o ‘fixed abode’
But I canna faddom hou I reached this laund.
– Minoritie Status / Kisebbségben (first three stanzas)
“I started to conceive the poem in the mid-1990s and completed it in 1998. ‘Minorities beyond the borders’ was a catch-phrase much used by nationalist journalists and politicians around then, referring to the Hungarian populations living in neighbouring countries. There was something disturbing in how they appropriated this otherwise broad phrase for their narrow purposes. These were also the years of the Yugoslav war, when refugees in great numbers sought asylum in Hungary. I was slowly starting to shape a poem stating that being in the minority is the fundamental condition of human existence. No man is an island perhaps, but every individual holds a minority status whether or not he or she acknowledges it. We all are exiles, emigrants and immigrants, fugitives and refugees, in and out of our temporary homelands, no matter whether we are privileged to be provided lifelong residence or not.”
– Győző Ferencz (extract from foreword to Minoritie Status)