Márió Z. Nemes belongs to the new wave of young poets who, brought up after the end of communism in 1989, have endevoured to re-invent poetry in the years 2000 by neither adhering to the still-surviging tradition of the fin-de-siècle baudelaireian verse, nor accepting the philosophical, abstracting line of poetry introduced in Hungarian literature with the advent of the neo-avantgarde movements of the eighties. But even among these new poets, the works of Márió Z. Nemes stand alone: his is a poetry which can easily seem to be a juxtaposition of surreal and disturbing fragments at first sight, but which is in fact, after further consideration, an exceptionally cruel and clear-sighted analysis of the bodily experience in the 21st century.
Evoking the works of Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, Paul Celan, Gottfried Benn or the painter Francis Bacon, Márió Z. Nemes explores the desperation and confusion with which modern human beings relate to their own bodies, the alienation of human relations in a world where human identity is rather a bunch of shattered frangments than a complete wholeness, and sexuality cannot be easily discerned from animalistic desire or experiments in self-mutilation. The traditional poetic notions of love, kindness, solitude and catharsis re-emerge from these poems in a new and unusual light, even gracing the reader with moments of laughter – although this laughter more often than not turns into something else: a dreaded reckoning of our own human condition.
His first volume of poems, Casual Readings of the Flesh is an exploration of these themes in the context of an ill-fated romantic relationship which leads to the deconstruction of the body scheme of both the lover and the beloved, the male and the female, creating an environment of sprawling, desintegrating and reborning body parts that can be best interpreted in the cadre of the „body without organs” notion of Gilles Deleuze. The second volume, Bauxite four years later expands this into a world of surreal mythology, where the same point of view is applied to a much broader context, creating mini-narratives and accounts on invented creatures revealing the disfunction of societies bigger than the couple of the first book.
Márió Z. Nemes, as a lot of young poets of his generation, also has a theoretical interest in the matters of poetry and philosophy, having finished his degrees in Aesthetics and Philosophy, and also working as a freelance critic and essayist. But his literary work is not marked at all by theory, and his touching and shocking poems are in fact more realistic that one would imagine.
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“This poetry works with the constant flotation of casual and eternal, eventual and permanent, personal and universal elements, never giving in fully to neither mode of speech, but rather letting speech speak itself. These are very strong effects, and Márió Z. Nemes works this linguistic material with the greatest possible temperance, in an almost phobicly narcissistic state of self-contemplation. He simply lets his own corporal, unconscious and conscious selves to function and interact, by never letting this slimy-stodgy creature – which is actually the imaginary body scheme of the poems’ narrator – to abstract itself even for one moment.”
Béla Bodor, Holmi
[Márió Z. Nemes] “forces different kinds of flesh to talk, as if all were his own flesh. That is the great mystery of his poetry. He writes flesh-poems, with controversial themes. The critic would very much like to see some irony here. Even some irony taken to the edge, to make it more digestable. But there is not much irony here. And if there isn’t then the poems of Márió Z. Nemes are without poses, they are cruel, intensive and heavy.”
Dániel Levente Pál, Prae.hu
“This pose-less, laconic, very intensive relational poetry is really outstanding, rewarding the reader with such beautiful and desperate lines such as these: »even if you learn to cook / for someone else / I will still / eat that same thing« (Between men).”
Zoltán Pallag, Magyar Narancs
“Márió Z. Nemes actually takes everything apart: language, world, nature, human organism, and he builds new constructions from these disassembled parts. And it is through these collage-creatures that the weltanschauung of the poet is reflected back on the creted world: the poet didn’t only disassemble language itself, but ripped apart his own body, his family, his environment, his gender, his age. His identity.”
József J. Fekete, Magyar Szó
“The poetry in Márió Z. Nemes’s new collection doesn’t only ask what is the essence of our perception of the world, but also asks what is there to come after the natural environment of experience – and the world that his poems present may very well suggest that these two can even merge sometimes.”
Boglárka Kiss, Kulter.hu
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Márió Z. Nemes was born in 1982 in Ajka. He is a poet and a critic, one of the most important and interesting members of the younger generation of Hungarian poetry. He started publishing around the turn of the millennium, since then his writings have appeared in all leading Hungarian literary reviews and magazines. Márió Z. Nemes has two books published, the first one Alkalmi magyarázatok a húsról (Casual readings of the Flesh, Poems) in 2006, and the second one Bauxit (Bauxite, Poems) in 2010. He is member of the Attila József Young Writers’ Association (József Attila Kör, JAK) and the Hungarian PEN Club. With other ten young poets, in 2005 they made a poetry blog on the web called Telep („Settlement”), which quickly became an emblematic reference point regarding the new wave of contemporary Hungarian writing. They finished the blog in 2009 when an anthology of their work was published in the same year. In the beginning of 2009 he won the Móricz Zsigmond Literary Fellowship for his poetry. From 2009 he is a PhD-student on the Doctoral School of Philosophy of the Eötvös Loránd University, his research theme is the relations of philosophical anthropology and aesthetics. He lives in Budapest.