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Poetry Canadian


by (author) Helen Hajnoczky

Coach House Books
Initial publish date
May 2016
Canadian, Women Authors, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2016
    List Price

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The word "magyarázni" (pronounced MUG-yar-az-knee) means "to explain" in Hungarian, but translates literally as "make it Hungarian." This faux-Hungarian language primer, written in direct address, invites readers to experience what it's like to be "made Hungarian" by growing up with a parent who immigrated to North America as a refugee. In forty-five folk-art visual poems each paired with a written poem, Hajnoczky reveals the beauty and tension of first-generation cultural identity.

‘Because translation between cultures is always fraught – and yet somehow translate we must – Magyarázni explores language and cultural identity in the permeable space fomenting between family and society, word and image initiating us into a new alphabet of lived meaning. In reading we wonder along with Magyarázni’s wandering “you,” we care and get entangled in the “brambles of your cursive,” we too are “made Hungarian.”’ —Oana Avasilichioaei

‘Familiar but out of reach, Magyarázni reforms the language of home on the tip of your tongue, a language of knotted cursive and bubbled syntax; folksong and stovetop. Each letter blossoms as a hand-drawn flower and a sputtering drone of spits and pith. Magyarázni punctuates every I with a poppy seed, every C with the splinter­ed foil of a solemn treat. Mournful and personal, Magyarázni calls out for the language of family.’ —Derek Beaulieu

About the author

Helen Hajnoczky's first book, Poets and Killers: A Life in Advertising (Invisible Publishing/Snare, 2010), was nominated for Expozine's best English book of the year award. Her chapbook Bloom and Martyr was the winner of Kalamalka Press' 2015 John Lent Poetry Prose Award. Her work has appeared in the anthologies Why Poetry Sucks: Humorous Avant-Garde and Post-Avant English Canadian Poetry (Insomniac, 2014) and Ground Rules: 2003-2013 (Chaudiere, 2013), in the magazines Dreamland, filling Station, Lemon Hound, Matrix, New Poetry, NöD Magazine, Poetry, Poetry Is Dead, Rampike, Touch the Donkey and in a variety of chapbooks. She lives in Calgary.

Helen Hajnoczky's profile page

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