V4 diaries (Bratislava): Bence Szenderák

(14-15. October 2014, KC Dunaj, Bratislava)

Getting serious

bratislava workshop_09_Bence Szenderák

Last night Bartosz happened to be in Bratislava so we met up with him. When I get home two days later, I see Jan’s check-in from Bratislava on Facebook. I guess it’s a city that attracts writers. (Bartosz Marcinkowski, editor of V4 partner New Eastern Europe Journal; Jan Kowalewicz, former participant of the Children of the Transition project, also former V4 literary resident in Bratislava.)
After breakfast we make our way to the location of the first workshop. It’s in the old town but the building is ‘70s socialist style. Its greyness, straight edges and cubic shape stands out. The café is in the basement. Peter greets us. (Peter Kerlik, expert from the Slovakian partner institute.)

There are three participants: Štěpán from the Czech Republic who I already met in Balatonszemes, Wojciech from Poland, and me. Wojciech is a new member of the group. He is a soon-to-be political journalist. Peter represents Slovakia as the new Slovakian participant can only make it to the second workshop.

bratislava workshop_08_project group

Szabolcs leads the first discussion. I can see he’s a bit uncomfortable speaking but he does it well. He hands out Hungarian poems of political matter written throughout the last twenty-five years. His goal is mainly to get non-Hungarians acquainted with contemporary Hungarian literature, but not disregarding the topic of change of regime. Others seem to like the texts: Štěpán quickly translates a short by Kányádi to Czech. I’m glad that this time we have some set material to work with, although I wish someone else from the V4 countries had prepared in such manner. Štěpán said he will do something similar for Prague, so I’m optimistic. Suddenly it’s lunchtime and this interrupts the session. We agree on finishing the topic in the afternoon.
KC Dunaj is amazing. The wall of the stairway is full of poems in various languages (the Hungarian ones reflect the terrible taste of the person who chose them). The bar is clean and well-furnished. Electronic and chill music is playing. You can tell they’ve put effort in it. We meet the new Slovakian participant, Peter W. Balko. He introduces himself as a screenwriter. He’s quite amiable.

This session is led by Kinga Tóth. She follows up on the topics she brought up first in Balatonszemes. She brought a few poems written by Márió Z. Nemes to help start the discussion about hierarchy, childhood traumas, folk stories and fairy tales as well as our own writing. The latter is quite awkward; no one seems to enjoy analyzing their own texts, but it’s interesting to see how one manages to do so. After this I became more and more curious about the others’ writings.

During the active part we write. I try to come up with a good symbol to show the difference between the two regimes. I feel rather uncomfortable doing this in front of others, but it’s just a 20-minute part of the workshop. We finish by saying it’s basically homework for Prague. I’m glad I will have time. Time is always what I need.

Bence Szenderák

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