Poems of Memory
The poems in Jenei’s collection Always Different: Poems of Memory grapple with childhood, memory, and time. The poet looks back forty years and imagines himself as a boy—the narrator of the poems—looking forward into the future. Thus the poems combine moments with sweeps of time, village scenes with rumblings of societal and technological change. In the tradition of Hungarian writers Tamás Nádas and Ágota Kristóf, Jenei grapples with war and destruction, loneliness, desire, and loss. The literary historian Éva Bánki calls Jenei “one of the great masters of Hungarian free verse”—adding that his poems also hold an epic theme, “the strange underworld of the Kádár era, rural Hungary shown through a child’s eye.” Through their storytelling, searching, and rhythms, these poems take us into our communal yet private longing for self-knowledge, history, and home.