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 include: The Budapest File (2000); An English Apocalypse (2001); Reel (2004), winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize; New & Collected Poems (2008) and The Burning of the Books and other poems (2009), shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2009. Bad Machine (2013) was a Poetry Book Society Choice and shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2013. Mapping the Delta (2016) was the Poetry Book Society Choice for Winter 2016. Bloodaxe has also published his Newcastle/Bloodaxe Poetry Lectures, Fortinbras at the Fishhouses: Responsibility, the Iron Curtain and the sense of history as knowledge (2010), and John Sears' critical study, Reading George Szirtes (2008). Szirtes lives in Norfolk and is a freelance writer, having retired from teaching at the University of East Anglia.
'A brilliantly virtuosic collection of deeply felt poems concerned with the personal impact of the dislocations and betrayals of history. The judges were impressed by the unusual degree of formal pressure exerted by Szirtes on his themes of memory and the impossibility of forgetting' - Douglas Dunn, on Reel, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize. 'A major contribution to post-war literature - Using a painter-like collage of images to retrieve lost times, lives, cities and betrayed hopes, Szirtes weaves his personal and historical themes into work of profound psychological complexity' - Anne Stevenson, Poetry Review. 'Any new collection from George Szirtes will treat its readers to a unique poetic combination: immense versatility and virtuosity when it comes to form, but also a tireless sympathy that dwells clear-sightedly on shocks, traumas and hard-won renewals from a century of migration and massacre. This volume has typically strong-voiced sequences... But its title sequence truly takes the breath away: a meditation on the love and hatred of knowledge, and why fury against literature did not start or end on Nazis' pyres... Read Szirtes to feel the exquisite, excruciating paper cuts of history' - Boyd Tonkin, The Independent, on The Burning of the Books and other poems.