This is the time of year, when Janus - the god of doors and transition shows his faces. Looking back and looking ahead the two-faced god opens the new year for us. Hence the name January.
I was reminded of him through a translation work I did recently; poetry by Safak Sariciciek. His work contains mythological, cultural and philosophical references that I immersed myself in November, in Hjo, Gothaland, Sweden. I had to revisit Nietzsche and Wagner and to honour the country that took me under its wings for a month, I revisited the work of Ingmar Bergman, too. It was a much-needed time alone, spent with focused work. I am very grateful.
Also, my novel Bed Table Door brought me an opportunity to spend nine days in Norwich, by winning the Desmond Elliott Residency awarded by the National Centre for Writing. My hosts loved the book and given their expertise in nourishing talent, it was so good to be acknowledged. Now the reviews are coming in and I am pleased that people like the characters and say: "You will finish the book feeling slightly melancholy but overall hopeful and inspired. A must-read for 2024!." This is what a writer needs. It took so long to get here, but the feeling is oh-so rewarding!
Sometimes things can happen faster. I signed a contract for the next novel, Kata inspired by the life of Katalin Karady in November. Open Books Hungary will publish it within the next 12 months. It is the irony of my life that it will have to be translated into Hungarian, but hey, it will be read, too, at the end.
Looking ahead with the hopeful face of Janus, soon enough, on St. Brigid's Day, I will be reading from the book at the Karady Villa - the residence of the Irish Ambassador in Budapest. Five days after Holocaust Memorial Day, we will honour this woman's heroic human decency during WWII.
Looking back I finished the first stage of Ec(h)o - an immersive project and a 16-minute long film poem in October. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the National Lottery helped me to realise a dream I carried in me for a few years. I hope it will be screened publically this year somewhere, too.
The ancient horned head of Janus looks into the abyss of time, while the baby face looks into the future. Ec(h)o does this, too, based on the elements that create our world. Climate crisis, extreme weather and all their consequences cannot be dealt with unless we see
a silver line on the horizon. Some say the ego takes you out of bed every morning, but I'm more inclined to say it is hope.