On Wednesday evening, Patti Smith gave a concert in Müpa Budapest. During her performance, she recited three Hungarian poems. But this was not her first encounter with Hungarian literature.
Patti Smith is an American singer-songwriter, musician, author, and poet who became an influential component of the New York City punk rock movement with her 1975 debut album, Horses.
The three poems that she read were The black piano by Endre Ady and two poems by János Pilinszky: Under a portrait and Introitus.
Both Ady and Pilinszky are famous poets in Hungary who are part of the curriculum in Hungarian schools.
(1877–1919) was a turn-of-the-century Hungarian poet and journalist. Regarded
by many as the greatest Hungarian poet of the 20th century, he was noted for his steadfast belief in social progress and development and for his poetry’s exploration of fundamental questions of the modern European experience: love, temporality, faith, individuality, and patriotism.
Well known for his vast influence on postwar Hungarian poetry, János Pilinszky (1921–1981) is also considered one of the greatest Hungarian poets of the 20th century. Pilinszky’s style includes a juxtaposition of Roman Catholic faith and intellectual disenchantment. His poetry often focuses on the underlying sensations of life and death; his time as a prisoner of war during the Second World War and later his life under the communist dictatorship furthered his isolation and estrangement.
Patti Smith has been reading Hungarian literature for a while now, such as Skylark by Dezső Kosztolányi and Satantango by László Krasznahorkai. Smith is friends with Krasznahorkai and she even shared a photo of him on her Instagram account of the two having coffee together in Venice, Italy. She also posted a photo of Kosztolányi’s book when she was reading it. One of her latest posts is from Budapest about a poster of her show being sold out.
Smith also met Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony who used her song People Have the Power several times during his campaign before his withdrawal.
Featured image: illustration via Patti Smith’s Facebook page