The Past Few Weeks in a Fell Swoop

I have been so busy catching up over the past few days (with grading, projects, etc.) that I haven’t had a chance to catch up here. Even the full scope of everything that happened in my life is only a minuscule fraction of everything that happened. I have no clue about most of it all, even things happening right around me. But as far as my life goes, I’ll give a few blog-worthy updates.

In short: the Varga graduation ceremonies, or most of them (there will be a few more in June), took place in beautiful weather and exuberant, melancholic moods. There was the school serenade and the individual serenades (where students serenade individual teachers just before their last class with that person), the school graduation, and the citywide graduation, which involved a big procession around the block to the Rose Garden, where some thousand seniors let go of their balloons, all at once. Gifts were given, tears shed, words of gratitude exchanged.

My mom and stepdad visited for a whole week and had a lovely time, as did I. Lots of walks around Szolnok, delicious meals at restaurants, a delightful concert at the Tisza Mozi. They visited one of my eleventh-grade classes and got to see some of the Shakespeare performances (after the festival itself). They also attended the school serenade and the citywide graduation. It was their first time in Szolnok, and they received a wonderful impression and warm welcomes.

A project for October took definite shape, when Csenger Kertai and Gergely Balla both won grants from the Petőfi Literary Fund to present as invited guests in my seminar on “Setting Poetry to Music” at the ALSCW’s 25th Annual Conference, which will take place at Yale from October 20 to 23. Sebestyén Czakó-Kuraly will also be presenting as an invited guest (update: he also won a Petőfi Literary Fund grant). Kata Heller will be presenting as a graduate student. We will have a large Hungarian delegation and a terrific conference! While in the U.S., we will have other events as well—more about that soon.

And then the books finally arrived—my translation, published by Deep Vellum, of Gyula Jenei’s Mindig más. We have now started to plan book release events here in Hungary. My trip to the U.S. this summer will be fairly short, just 10 days—so I won’t have any events there. But we might have an international online event, and in any case we intend to have live events in both Szolnok and Budapest.

I have some projects in the works: two translated manuscripts, soon going out as book proposals, and some stories that have been floating around and getting highly complimentary, highly personalized rejections from the editors-in-chief of top journals…. I know that some of these stories will make it into print, and new ones will too, but I need to give them time and thought again. Speaking of writing, I am very proud that The Continental Literary Magazine published my essay on Cz.K. Sebő’s album. Since writing the essay, I have come to hear the album in still new ways, but that is what writing and listening can do. A friend said that my essay seems to be listening to the reader. I like that idea.

And there have been concerts: an absolutely beautiful Árstíðir/Platon Karataev concert at the KOBUCI, where my joy can be seen in this audience photo (taken by Tibor Kristóf Fekete). I think this was during Platon Karataev’s encore, during their cover of VHK’s “Halló mindenség,” but I could be wrong. Next week, I get to attend both a Cz.K. Sebő concert and a Galaxisok concert; the following week, Cataflamingo, whom I haven’t heard in a while; and the following week, Grand Bleu and Cappuccino Projekt (together in the same evening).

This is why I am not looking to add activities to my life. I have so much going on and need to think and rest too. Not only think and rest, but exercise; I badly need to return to running and biking. With vigorous exercise, I get a lot less tired in the evenings, but it has been hard to work it in. I love the long bike rides for the kind of thinking, endurance, and relaxation that they allow, not to mention exploration of the countryside. Two graduating students gave me a fantastic gift: a ticket to a bike tour around Balaton (where I have not been yet). I plan to schedule that as soon as possible, and to find a time to go up to Zemplén too.

But tomorrow we go on a class trip (with 11.C) to Sopron and then Austria! It’s just an overnight trip, but we have a lot packed into it, and I look forward to riding (by bus) through the hills.

I made a few additions to this piece after posting it, and even with that, I left a lot out.

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  • “To know that you can do better next time, unrecognizably better, and that there is no next time, and that it is a blessing there is not, there is a thought to be going on with.”

    —Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies

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    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In April 2022, Deep Vellum published her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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