November 1st, 2018: I read translation extracts from Hungarian Secret Police Files. Three years ago, I requested the Hungarian government to look through their archived secret police files for any mention of my father. After waiting 15 months, 11 pages of material arrived in the mail. The files covered the time period from November 1956 (during the Hungarian Revolution, when my family left Hungary) through to 1960. In the reading and translation, I discovered words that you would expect: headquarters, top secret, strictly confidential, suspect interrogation, dossier, code name, or the chilling phrase “after being reminded of the importance of telling the truth, the witness gives the following statement.” These statements, or stories, are understated, almost banal, for for me they have a sad and uncomfortable resonance. The stories are are told by:
- a secret agent
- a man on a motorcycle
- the owner of a horse-drawn wagon
- an imprisoned priest
- a suspect
These extracts form part of my first docu-poetry manuscript, UNKN – Unknown – But Foreign, about the lives of my ancestors in the Carpathian Mountains of Central Europe.
The playbill for the evening: