Discussion with Zoltán Lesi and Ján Gavura about the book In 'Women’s Clothes'

On March 12, 2024, the Faculty of Central European Studies in Nitra hosted a presentation of the Slovak translation of the book In Women's Clothes by the Hungarian poet Zoltán Lesi.

Zoltán Lesi, a Hungarian poet, translator, and programmer living in Austria, recently had a meeting to discuss the Slovak translation of his poetry collection, "In Women's Clothes." The meeting, hosted by Ján Gavura, a Slovak poet, translator, and literary critic, was conducted multilingually in English, Slovak, and Hungarian. The discussion offered fascinating insights into how the book landed at a Slovak publishing house, existing translations in German, French, and Polish, and its reception across different cultures. Notably, the book incorporates poems, photographs, articles, and documents, reflecting a collaboration between Lesi and the Brazilian book designer Ricardo Portilho.

The poetry collection tells about the lives of athletes Dora Ratjen and Gretel Bergmann. They are presented in a somewhat unconventional way - through documentary poems. High jumper Gretel Bergmann was unable to compete at the 1936 Berlin Olympics due to their Jewish background and was replaced by Dora Ratjen. However, Ratjen’s medals and records were later taken away because the police investigation could not unequivocally identify him/her as either a woman or a man. In the end, Ratjen was declared male against their will.

At the meeting with Zoltán Lesi, the author himself presented a selection of poems from the collection in Hungarian. Simultaneously, their Slovak translations were displayed on a projector. The event concluded with a Q&A session with the author.

Overall, it was a very interesting and unique presentation, especially since it works with a relatively little-known subject from recent history. Similar themes are frequently discussed in contemporary social discourse.

Lesi Zoltan 1

Lesi Zoltan 2

Lesi Zoltan 3

Authors of the text: Bc. Lucia Gulaiová, Bc. Dominik Kučera, Bc. Réka Antalová
students of Central European Areal Studies

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Fakulta stredoeurópskych štúdií

Univerzita Konštantína Filozofa v Nitre

Dražovská cesta 4, 949 01, Nitra

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