An Exceptional Honor

A few weeks ago, I saw an announcement of a contest in honor of the Hungarian poet Sándor Weöres (1913-1989), hosted by the Maradok duo. Contestants could submit either a poem or an essay, either of which was to reflect on one of his poems. Since I had been thinking every day, throughout the day, of “Szembe-fordított tükrök” (and had covered it on cello), I decided to write an essay about it (in Hungarian). My colleague Marianna Fekete kindly corrected the text for me before I sent the essay in. I asked her to make only necessary corrections. I didn’t want the content, style, or expressions to be changed; I knew the essay would not read as though written by a Hungarian, and that was fine. Most of the corrections had to do with word order. In a few cases, she corrected a word or phrase.

I didn’t win. But my essay will be included in the Weöres anthology! This will be my first publication in Hungarian, alongside many essays and poems that I look forward to reading. If you read Hungarian, order a copy! It’s only 2,500 forints plus postage.

The poem has been resounding in my mind throughout the day, every day. It has associations with Platon Karataev’s song “Létra,” the film Magasságok és melységek, and a book I recently read; it has come up in conversation; and I have carried it alone.

Leave a comment


  1. Congratulations! I am sure you worked long and hard on this text, and I hope enjoyably too. Reading almost anything in Hungarian these days (except for very simple texts) is very frustrating for me, unfortunately. Getting old(er)…

    • Thank you! I was so immersed in it that I don’t know how long or hard it was. I think it was a relatively short time (approximately a full day), but the thoughts had been in my mind for a while.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • “Setting Poetry to Music,” 2022 ALSCW Conference, Yale University

  • Always Different



    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.

  • Recent Posts


  • Categories