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Budapest Workshop June 2013

Nottingham – Budapest – Karlsruhe

In Memoriam Katalin Budai

“We all have stories to tell. Stories about ourselves, our lives, our cities, our history, our culture.”

About the Project As part of the European Union Lifelong Learning Programme, the Dovetail project works with adult learners to improve writing skills through the creative writing method. The Dovetail project gives people in Nottingham, Karlsruhe and Budapest the opportunity to tell each other their stories using creative writing workshops, visits to local heritage sites and a five-day meeting in each of the three cities. The second international workshop was held from June 5th – 9th 2013 in Budapest. This anthology includes photos and creative writing texts, based on the inspirational workshop programmes, connected to given aspects. The texts were created by the project participants and reflect the experiences they made during this time. The workshop was organised by Katalin Budai, who can no longer be with us. This anthology is dedicated to her memory.


"Every encounter that touches our soul, leaves behind a trace that never disappears completely."

Kata Budai, the Hungarian coordinator of the Dovetail project was tragically killed in a car accident on 9 September 2013. She played a very active role in organising Hungarian literary and cultural life and participated in creating and running the 5K Centre from the beginning. We are thankful for her work and dedicate the following poem to her memory:

Gone! Her Voice Flying on Dovetail A warm stranger held my hand She had a crown of fiery flame Gentle and kind she held my arm Like a couple of others in the group She walked with me across the slippery snow As we ventured into Nottingham Castle Marching along like a herd of cattle In the icy flakes that give me nightmares. In Budapest, she went out of her way Warm and welcoming to all Making sure we had wonderful days Suddenly without warning she departs from us Gone! Her voice on the waves, flying on Dovetail We hear the heavens rejoice and hail. by Naa Ahinee Mensah


Budapest Workshop Programme The 5K Centre hosted the Dovetail workshop in Budapest. The project participants from the Nottingham Writers’ Studio (UK) and GEDOK (Karlsruhe, Germany) arrived in the morning, both groups were welcomed at the Dominik Panzió (14th district, Cházár András utca 3., Who was not tired enough, could come with us to visit the city centre, starting with the New York Palace, where Kata used to work.

Petőfi Literary Museum The first programme of the workshop started in the Petőfi Literary Museum (, which is hosted in the Károlyi Palace, a relic of the capital’s neoclassical architecture and the most important of the 19thcentury aristocratic palaces in Pest. Before the introduction and the creative writing programme we were guided in the palace that has a unique collection of writers’ belongings, manuscripts, books and photographs. The PIM runs the Translation Support Project, which enables foreign publishers to issue books in Hungarian. Besides that, they run a project to buy contemporary authors’ digital rights in a monthly payment form (Digital Academy) and publish them on their website, which is also an interesting practice in the copyright world.


The themes of the first writing workshop were the following: 1. Arriving and first impressions in Budapest (What does it look like, how does it smell, etc.) 2. The cult literary figure Sándor Petőfi (How did the exhibition inspire you?)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Wie fühlt sich Budapest für mich an? Durch den wenigen Schlaf bin ich wohl überdreht. Flug etc. alles Ok! - Ankunft! Der Himmel ist bedeckt und malt ein gleichmäßiges Licht auf alles. - Auf der Fahrt vom Flughafen zum Hotel freue ich mich über die Grünstreifen neben den Straßen. Das Gras ist hochgewachsen, das Gras ist sehr unterschiedlich, voll von Kräutern und Blumen, verschiedenste Grüntönungen, roter Mohn, unterschiedliche Gelbtöne, lila, blau etc. opulenten, es begeistert mich! Die Büsche und Bäume vom Wind durchweht zeigen auch die silberigen Grüns der Unterseite ihrer Blätter. Die Straßen sind gut ausgebaut, überall auch Bordsteineinfassungen, neues, altes, alles gut gekehrt für eine Großstadt. Kleine Vorstadthäuser wechseln mit Fabrikanlagen, altes wird abgerissen, Baustellen, endlose Straßen, breit, zeugen von dem Dasein in einer Hauptstadt. Prachtvolle alte Faßaden, bröckelnd oder neu renoviert. Die Verziehrungen sind üppiger als sonst gesehen, die Formen der Architektur oft geschwungener, runder. Altes Grau, Braun Ocker, meist helle Farben, neues Glas ... Das Wetter angenehm Wolken, trocken nicht zu warm nicht zu kalt. Außergewöhnliche Wörter auf den Plakaten, viele ööö, üüü, yyy ... ungewöhnlicher Klang der Sprache.

by Joachim Hirling


Was sagt mir Budapest? Ich bin lieb, ich bin wie meine Heimatstadt (Sofia), durch die unterschiedlichen Bauten, sozialistisch, realistisch, durch die freundlichen Gesichter. Ich bin nicht reich an Geldern, ich bin reich an Geschichten, ich bin reich an Blumen, ich bin reich an Substanz. Und ich bin sauber und aufgeräumt – und sehr, sehr kultiviert. Sie fügte hinzu: „Ich gebe dir köstliche Speisen, ich spreche zu dir durch nette freundliche Menschen, durch angenehme, belesene Frauen mit der Sprache der Kultur, mit der Sprache der Wärme. Komm, fass mich an, ich möchte mich offenbaren.“ Und sie meinte auch: „Ich leihe dir einen Rahmen, dadurch, dass ich institutionalisiert bin. Ich verehre meine ferne Vergangenheit, ich preise Autoritäten und geschichtliche Stile. Vielleicht sollte ich mich noch gegenwärtig verwirklichen und untraditionelle verrückte Ideen gedeihen lassen!

by Maria Hirling

Our journey across the city… was made on foot and wheels. We meandered through vintage shops, sat outside on the kerb of change wearing multicoloured smiles, our pink tongues tugging towards the cool vanilla essence of history. We learnt that the swirls of Hungarian ice creams are so strong they can stand 10 inches tall, perhaps that's why statues hang from every building – guardian ice cream angels waiting to see who's twist is the tallest. Hands displaying signs of wrinkles fought to push the wheelchair, excitedly tilting her towards silver weeping willows, book stands, ruins and even a breasted sphinx.

by Lila Randall


Fragments from Budapest

Here crows unhood themselves and don jackets in the park. Towering timepieces stand still, a half realised dream. Buildings, enwrought by entropy pulsate with hypnotic beats and bleed bohemian art. And we wonder, what does the word ‘ruin’ really mean? Here a swollen river slices though the city and splits its heart in two Children gather at the water’s edge and skim stones on to rooftops. Friendships are forged, dogs are disguised and food is reimagined.


And a once strong communist foothold is transformed into a resounding symbol of unity. I close my eyes, place my hands on the cold metal and listen to the past sound of bricks breaking Inhale the rust deep into my lungs and feel the echoes of revolution rumble through the streets. A sunset bruises the sky A father and son stare out at the horizon And even the air tastes different here.

by Aimee Wilkinson


Wheeling in Budapest A nightmare came true Staring at it, all I saw was limitations A free being in mind and spirit trapped I found myself reluctant to enter My body desperately screaming for it And yet my mind desperately averse to it In Budapest came my first public outing in a wheely Up and down the bus Up and down the train Up and down the underground Ladies and gentlemen Pushing, wheeling and carrying A sense of quilt overwhelming me A snail halting down a group of running cheetahs I heard voices of the peregrine falcons repeating “it's not that far� I thought yeah right! Try my body for a few minutes My first day in the wheely brought me a young friend A young boy and his charming mother I slowly started to feel a sense of ease Miss Smiling L became a child again For a moment she took ownership of my borrowed rounded legs Watching her spinning the double rings as you would stir a car wheel Made me feel a sense on normality Smiley L and vocal D brought excitement to the spinning wheels With her aching heels fascinating H wished to be pushed in the seated wheels And there I was feeling awkward in it. I felt a sense on commonality when others sat in my adopted lower half There you go, being in the wheely is not so bad I thought to myself Wheeling in Budapest Out of my nightmare came warmth Thoughtfulness and the kindness of humanity Germans, Hungarians, British, everybody aiding I was touched to see adamant K fighting my corner I was touched to see wonderful A empathising both Fighting to get me a wheely, my nightmare and my support! Such love for humanity! If only the whole world was as wonderful as these by Naa Ahinee Mensah



Petőfi The air flowing through the terminal breathes him into my lungs. Poppies grow alongside roads he walked paved now, choked with cars. Even the names of the roads speak of him. He comes to us in the bow of a violin-player with a moustache, with the fox’s dance.

The notes of Greensleeves are not English on his strings. His language screeches patriotism across Heroes Square under red-and-white stripes. Words ordered differently, his poetry gives this country a better kind of love. A face painted on a beech tree could be his— even the children know him. I gently kiss his cheeks. by Pippa Hennessy


University Library / Grandio Bár

After the guided bus tour in Budapest we visited the University Library of ELTE and the exhibition of calligraphies. From the Library we went to a “ruin-pub” called Grandio Bár, where we got new writing exercises.

First we had to think about the word “ruins” and its meaning in our life. Then we formed mixed groups of about 4 people at different tables and each member pulled a "Dixit card" as a driving force to write a common story.



Ruinous Regeneration We skip our way between tram tracks and cobbled stones. We are all in the place we should never go. All week I have heard people mention the flood through hushed voices and clenched teeth. As if to discuss the disaster openly would call forth the devil and bring a further curse on their fair city. They say fifteen people have died in the villages. They say that it hasn’t flooded like this in living memory, and that the water, at nearly nine meters above its usual level, has not yet reached its peak. “Do you see how big it is? How much it has risen?” whispers our guide on our first day, as we drive over one of the bridges out of Pest and into Buda. But I have seen many rivers before and this is just another. Rivers rise, tides flow and the sun sets, it’s what they do. It’s the natural order of things. It’s not until my fourth day in Budapest that I truly begin to understand. We have been walking so long I have been encapsulated in time. We have been walking so long I have forgotten to worry and can only wonder. Scores of people clamour through the streets and congregate at the water’s edge. The swollen river stretches before us, its vast expanse cutting through the heart of the city. Rooftops of houses and well-loved monuments peek through the surface like giant stepping stones. Trees bend with the onslaught of the water and sandbags stockpile the streets, yet the tenacious river snakes through. I follow the crowd of people as we pick our feet carefully between jagged stones and smooth tram tracks. The tram itself, unable to move as all stops are


flooded, remains sedentary behind me, its doors closed like a sleeping animal curled in on itself. What was once a road winding down to the river is now transformed into a harbour, and I watch children paddle in the water and skim stones on the surface. There are no strangers here, and bound together by this spectacle, we lend a helping hand when one slips on the tracks, or take the time to point out some new marvel the person next to us may have missed. I lean over a rail and inhale the humid air deep into my lungs. The sunset glints silver and gold on the surface, yet the water surges past at immeasurable speeds. I shield my eyes from the sun and look over to the other side. With the river at this size, it is too far to make out anything other than the Renaissance buildings that contribute to the city’s character. I imagine crowds of people gathered on the other bank. Perhaps there too is a woman, much like me. I wonder if she has made the same mistakes, dreamt the same dreams, felt the same fears. I wonder if she has been able to conquer her demons and keep in her life the clarity of only what truly matters to her. If she has done so she is a stronger woman than I, and I want to break through the looking glass of the water to ask her how she has achieved such a thing. But the water is too wide, and the tide is too strong. I turn away and follow the crowd towards the Hungarian Houses of Parliament. Here the river Danube has also broken her banks and sweeps against the building's walls. The sun has now set, and an enchanted half-light hangs around us. This is a city well-versed in reconstruction. After decades of occupation and changing ideologies, it has uncloaked itself to rediscover its true identity. Like this city, I too am well-versed in reimagining myself, and the concept of new beginnings is not so new to me. I watch the play of city lights on the water’s deceptively calm surface, and remember that through ruin, regeneration is born.

by Aimee Wilkinson


Ruinen Ruinieren sie die Langeweile! Ruinez vos attentes! Laissez-vous surprendre! Mein Ruhm ist ruiniert, zerstÜrt ist das Gebäude der Fremdperspektive. Jetzt bleibt mir nur mein selbst. You've ruined my heart, now all I have left is a bipass, passing through my stomach... Ein Bauch voller Schmetterlinge Deine Blicke ruinieren meine Figur.

by Maria Hirling


Ein Haiku Der Ehemann: … ein stolzer Pilzhutträger in der Ruinenkneipe. by Maria Hirling

„Ruine“ Ruine – Träume, Vergangen – heit, träume Zukunft. Ruinenträume, Ruinenräume, Ruine, ruhe in Ruinensteinen, Ruin, ruiniert. Bruchstücke, Fragmente, Steinbruch für Neues. Ruinen – Steinbrüche für Geschichten und Geschichte. Ruinen – Orte der Heimat, der Herkunft. Geborgen, verborgen im/ aus Irgendwo. Frag „Mente“, er-sie-es kann es dir mitteilen – lies! Oder aber lass es!

by Joachim Hirling



The Story of Anonymouse Anonymaus Im großen Lecutturmland lebte einst eine Maus. Von einem dieser Türme wurde ein Schuh heruntergeschmissen, vermutlich von einem Lecutturmwärter. Der Schuh war magisch und flog durch die Lüfte. Der Maus gefiel das zunächst doch dann hatte sie Angst. Sie stürzte ab. Mitten über dem Meer. Voll in ein Boot. Mit diesem ging es über die Milchstrasse ins Indianerland, ein warmes Wigwam. Zwei Rothäute machen Rauchzeichen. Die Botschaft lautet: “Wir haben jetzt eine Maus im Zelt. Wir kennen ihren Namen nicht, aber sie hat einen Schuh dabei.”

Anonymous In large Lecutturmland once lived a mouse. From one of these towers, a shoe was throwndown, probably from a Lecutturmwärter. The shoe was magical and flew through the air. Themouse liked the first but then she was scared. They crashed. Centers across the sea. Fully ina boat. With this, it went beyond the Milky Way into the Indian country, a warm wigwam. TwoRedskins make smoke signals. The message is: “We now have a mouse in a tent We do notknow her name, but she’s like a shoe..” by Heike Pitschmann, Renate Schweizer, Heide Schlösinger


„Was ist Inspiration“

Im dichten Wald öffnet sich eine Schatztruhe – Hinein und Hinaus schweben die zwei komplementären Geister – unfassbar. Hier erscheinen sie in den lyrischen Klangwellen Verdichtungen von Gelb und Blau, auch bekannt als „Ais (A#)“ und „D“. Verborgen im Dunkel der Truhe kondensieren Sie zur Kraft, aus dem das Grün entsteht, auch bekannt als „C“ mit seinen Geschwistern „B“ und „Cis (C#)“, auch Gelbgrün und Gelbblau genannt. Sie setzen die Energie zum Auf- und Neukeimen der kreativen Energie frei. Es entstehen die ursprünglichen Klänge und Geräusche des Urwaldes. Später wird ein Priester, weise wie ein Rabe, die leichten Federn die durch den blutroten raum schweben, bewegt von Luftzügen, nachsinnend schauen. In der Hand hält er, im blauschwarzem Gewand, gegürtet mit violetter Schärpe, den Rosenkranz. In Gedanken sieht er wie der allwissende Geist durch die hölzerne braune Tür den blauen Raum betritt. „Anonymus“ in weißer Mönchskutte mit dem „Bauchauge“. Er geht hinein – beleuchtet vom Sonnenstrahl, erwidert vom Kerzenlicht mit bewegter Flamme. Er kam zu dem für das bereitete Mahl hergerichtetem Tisch. Das Besteck neben Tellern, Gläsern für Wein, noch leer ungefüllt seiend. Klänge schweben um die Welten Erde. Die Sphären-Musik, gespielt vom Engelschor webt zusammen die himmlische Musik. Kreativ in freier Leichtigkeit kommt auch ihnen der Geist des E-Pianos, des Saxophons, der Klarinette, der Oboe und des Schlagzeugs – Inspiration pur. Erde – Blau, Universum Schwarz, Wolken – Weiß.


Kossuth Club – 5K Centre On the fourth day we visited the headquarters of the 5K Center, where another reading-writing workshop was organised and led by the renowned Hungarian poet Anna T. Szabó. ANNA T. SZABÓ, poet, writer and translator was born in Transylvania (Romania) in 1972 and moved to Hungary in 1987. She studied English and Hungarian literature at the University of Budapest and received her PhD in English Renaissance literature. She was 23 when her first volume of poetry appeared. She has since published four more volumes of poetry and has received several literary prizes. Anna T. Szabó: On Darkness (A sötétről) Where the heart was, a word is beating: Forget. There was heat, though; you lay back in the grass and felt the pulsations searing through your flesh, under your eyelids, there, where the sun was; a mirage burns into the retina like the trace left by a touch upon your skin, the grass, the sun, the feeling cold, the drying and the smell over cooling water of the wind… the word beats, stammers, forget it, let it drop just as the warm, rough palm tenderly reaches, unexpectedly, almost devoid of weight, to touch the naked shoulder, while the beach sinks into dusk, the water stirred by the wind, a shivering body filling up with warmth… you dare not move. It's gone. Quite gone. The season is changing - oh so slowly the sky revolves. Snow falls on the water, forget, forget, behind the eyes darkness without a flaw, which does not warrant tears, it has not the weight. But if you let it drop, you too will fall beneath dark water cold as ice, oh such a deep cold that there simply is no longer sun enough to melt it with a touch. (Translated from the Hungarian by Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri)



There once was a busy country with a Prime Minister who was determined to do well. The people worked hard and kept the fires of the power stations burning all day and all night. But the fumes from the burning of coal and gas made the air catch in their throats. The smoke blocked out the moon and the stars and dimmed the sun. The sky disappeared behind a blanket of cloud. “Do something,” the people said. The PM ordered them to build taller chimneys. “So the smoke will blow further away,” he said. “Paint blue sky and clouds all the way round the cooling towers. Then everyone will feel better because they’ll remember the colour of the sky,” which was true. A high-pitched screeching was heard from the cages of the canaries that the people kept for their sweet songs. The screeching got louder. “What a terrible sound,” said the PM. “Release them.” So the people opened up all the cages and the canaries flew this way and that searching for air that they could breathe freely. Many birds coughed and some died from air poisoning. “Let’s stick together,” said the chief of the birds, “and head for the clouds.” So the canaries flocked together to make a giant bird with a sharp beak and two huge wings and a tail. They flew vertically up into the air and though many were scattered by the strong winds and more were injured by the fumes, enough birds broke through the thick cloud for the rest to follow through the gap that they made. Free at last, the remaining birds glided on the jet stream over unknown miles of sea. At last, the clouds thinned and the shore of a faraway land came into view. The air was fresh and clear and the birds spread out and drifted gently down to the beach where a father was teaching his young daughter to count. The little girl looked up at the first yellow bird. “How many?” she said. “One,” said her father and when more arrived, “two, lots,” as the yellow birds drifted down like yellow snow. The canaries made a home in that new land and back in the busy country the PM was voted out of office and the people went on holiday.

by Nigel Smith


Nyitott Műhely The last evening we presented our works in a place called Nyitott Műhely (Open Workshop) in the Buda part of the city (12th district, Ráth György utca 4., We were the only guests in the cosy art-cellar which is a gallery and a restaurant at the same time.

“The last evening together was a back to back rally of exchange. Typical country dance steps were sandwiched between choruses of 'I want to have a female pope' and chorizo stew. From a writer being published that day, to her son asking questions about their country's history during the research, the Hungarian poet had cast a spell upon us all.” by Lila Randall


The Week of Books Festival

As part of the Vörösmarty Square programmes, Anna Menyhért was talking about women’ s role in the artscene and presenting her book Women’s Literary Heritage.

In addition Anna was presenting her new children book, together with three more authors in Írók Boltja Bookshop - Writers’ Bookshop (6th district, Andrássy út 45.,

The place used to be a cafe, called Cafe Japan, a gathering place for writers from the 19th century up until the mid-20th century. It became a bookshop in the fifties. It is still the place where writers do appear and their presence is cherished.



I saw the shining gleaming twisting river from 40,000 feet in the air through the clouds I feel I should have been another 40,000 higher with the butterflies in my stomach The bus journey to the poppies by the roads illuminated the way As did the road signs in foreign tongue The buildings with such colour and structure and detail feel like Picasso or Monet painted such great things and then there they stood Survived Proud The streets and the vibrancy of Budapest I could never express the magnificence of her or her beauty! You were there to greet us and the first night we had dinner I tasted a closely guarded secret. The sweet bitter taste of fought for democracy the right to exist the right to be standing alone tall proud and everlasting as the Danube If the Danube could speak what would she whisper? What secrets could she tell? Would she tell you about Petofi? Revolution? His beautiful wife? The Arrow Cross? Their evil deeds? The bricks of the bridges that fell into their watery grave in 1944? Would it tell you story of the moving of the university and its scared books one by one sailing down the river to their current home? Would she speak of the Red Army and Stalin and Lenin?


Or would she tell you to walk down Andrassy Avenue and marvel at its beauty? Would she tell you about the law of nothing being able to be built within Budapest and its city limits higher than the cathedral? Would she whisper about the New York New York cafÊ? Would she teach you how to spend her Forints? Or lead you to dance upon Heroes Square underneath the founding forefathers of Hungary? Would she lead you to where the last chink of light hits the last sparkle upon her bed at night? Would she let you scale the castle walls to lay on the grass of the gardens in Buda? And marvel at all her glory from up above? Would she show you the opera house with her bare breasted sphinxes standing guard outside? Would she let you look at the castle replicas and touch the Anonymous writer's pen? Now you see the Danube she whispered to me the secrets‌ Those secrets will be with me for the rest of my natural life. YOU showed me the Jewel of the East. And for that I am forever grateful and feel blessed and I am forever in your debt. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.

by Serita Blake



Budapest Anthology 2013  

The Dovetail project gives people in Nottingham, Karlsruhe and Budapest the opportunity to tell each other their stories using creative writ...