|P E T E R H A R G I T A I
Mother Tongue: A Broken-Hungarian Love Song
PETER HARGITAI’s work, both in scope and in style, remains well outside the pale of
current poetic fashion including the McPoems of MFA mills and the lip- tongue-ear literature
of hiphop. Influenced by the great Hungarian poet Attila József’s obsession with the eternal
mother as a metaphor for all human longing, Hargitai probes the nature of spiritual exile on
terms that are neither Freudian nor Jungian, American, or Hungarian, but on terms that are
uniquely personal and movingly human.
“If traditional confessional poetry, now considered classical, had its halcyon days in the
work of Roethke, Lowell, and Plath, it can be said to have reached a new, ethnically charged
peak in the work of Peter Hargitai.”
“Peter Hargitai is a remarkable versatile and humanely touching poet with a truly distinctive
style and voice. These deeply probing intellectual poems exhibit an impressive range and
vivacity of genres."
University of Illinois Press
5.0 out of 5 stars
Confessional Odes: Mother Tongue Strikes a Chord By Vivian
Mother Tongue by Peter Hargitai follows in the tradition of Anne Sexton's The Death
Notebooks, and Sylvia Plath's Ariel. These sincere poems are strengthened by the obvious
emotions of the author. Hargitai's confessional odes convey a sense of bittersweet love and
brittle hurt towards his mother.
On a whole Mother Tongue can be seen as a collection of work following a struggling
immigrant family in it's move to the new world, an epic struggle between past and present,
a fresh look at the complexities of mother-son relations, or simply a telling amalgamation of
poetry that describes the trials and life of one man; with flaws and history much like the rest
This critic gives Mother Tongue five stars hoping it will one day line the shelves of
bookstores next to Sexton and Plath. Mother Tongue evokes confessional poetry at it's most
humane, realistic and inspirational.
American Academy of Poets award-winning poet-translator Peter Hargitai considers the
raging, aging child in this highly original collection of poems. His earlier work was listed
in Yale critic Harold Bloom's prestigious book The Western Canon.