The page of Zelk Zoltán, English biography
[Hungarian] [English]Born December 18, 1906 in Érmihályfalva. Poet. Son of a village cantor. Spent childhood in Miskolc and early youth in Szatmárnémeti. Self-educated. Worked as apprentice and physical laborer. Participated in young workers' movement in Transylvania in 1921. Moved to Budapest when 19, where he worked at odd jobs and later became a journalist and publisher's reader. His poems were first published in 1925 in 365, later in Dokumentum and Munka. Joined Hungarian Socialist Workers' party in 1925. Was arrested in 1926, exiled permanently, and transported to Rumania. Returned to Hungary secretly in 1928 and lived for years under assumed name. After 1928 his poems were published regularly in Nyugat, Magyar Csillag, Szép Szó, and various kinds of dailies. Arrested again in 1935 but was released at insistence of literary world. Served in forced labor camp 1942-1944. Escaped and lived underground until end of World War II. Joined Communist party in 1945. Began to edit cultural section of Szabadság in 1945, contributed to Népszava, and became reader for Athenaeum publisher. Awarded Baumgarten Prize for Kagylóban tenger (1947), Kossuth Prize for new poems (1949), Attila József Prize for new poems (1951), and Kossuth Prize for Mint égő lelkiismeret (1954). Became member of secretariat of Hungarian Writers' Federation in early 1950's. Founded Kisdobos in 1952 and edited it until 1956. Sentenced to three-year prison term for his activities during the 1956 Revolution; released on October 15, 1958. Again became a member of Writers' Federation in 1962.
His early poems show influence of expressionism and of Nyugat School. His later works reflect his concern with the problems of workers and peasants. Tales and poems for children important part of lifework. ¶ Some of his poems have been translated into Bulgarian, Czech, French, Italian, Polish, Rumanian, and Russian.
Hungarian Authors. A Bibliographical Handbook by Albert Tezla