“We announce with deep pain and shock that the president of the Hungarian PEN Club, poet Géza Szőcs, has passed away tonight. May your memory be blessed!” the Hungarian PEN Club announced. PEN International is a global association of writers, founded in 1921, to campaign for freedom of expression and uphold literature as a force of world culture.
Géza Szőcs was infected during Hungary’s COVID-19 pandemic in October 2020. He was admitted to a hospital in Budapest, where he was reportedly in intensive care and on a ventilator for weeks. Géza Szőcs died on November 5, 2020.
The ethnic Hungarian poet and politician from Transylvania was born in Marosvásárhely/Târgu Mureş, on August 21, 1953. He served as Secretary of State for Culture at the Ministry of National Resources in Hungary from June 2, 2010, to June 13, 2012.
Szőcs started his literary career in his twenties as the enfant terrible of Hungarian poetry. By the age of 26, he had already published three volumes of poetry that managed to upset all conventional poetic expectations. His ironic, even grotesque treatment of traditional norms and forms, combined with a playful tone and intricate intertextual ploys, are powerfully present in his poignant poetry.
After working at the scientific literature seminar of Babeș-Bolyai University in Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca, where he had been a student, he went into political exile in Switzerland and worked in Geneva as a journalist. Between 1989 and 1990, he was the head of the Budapest studio of Radio Free Europe. In 1989, he joined the staff of the Hungarian Writers’ Association’s magazine Magyar Napló. In 1990, Szőcs returned to Kolozsvár/ Cluj-Napoca and was active in the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania (known by its Hungarian acronym of RMDSZ), and from 1993 to 2010, he was editor of the magazine A Dunánál. He then served as Secretary of State for Culture at the Ministry of National Resources in Hungary from 2010 to 2012, and in 2011, he was elected President of the Hungarian Pen Club.
The Transylvanian poet and politician Géza Szőcs was awarded the Kossuth and József Attila Awards and served as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Chief Cultural Adviser until his death.