Ágh István: Biography

István Ágh (Iszkáz, 24 March 1938–)

Hungarian poet, writer, literary translator, winner of the Kossuth Prize and József Attila Prize, awarded the title of Artist of the Nation. He is a founding member of the Digital Literature Academy.


He was born István Nagy, but has been publishing under the pen name István Ágh since 1958. He officially adopted his pen name in 1968.

He was born in Felsőiszkáz on 24 March 1938 to a peasant family. His father was Béla Nagy (1884–1969) and his mother was Erzsébet Vas (1905–1995). He had two sisters and a brother, László Nagy (1925–1978), who was also a poet. He completed his primary school education in his native village before attending secondary school in Tapolca (1952–1956), eventually graduating from Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest with degrees in Hungarian literature and library science.

In 1961 he married Zsuzsanna Lángh, and their daughter Zsófia was born in 1962. They divorced after five years. He has been married to textile artist Judit Széles since 1968, with whom he has a daughter, Eszter, born in 1972.

He worked in the builders’ trade union from 1961 to 1962, then as a librarian at the Institute of Public Education until 1969. Between 1968 and 1970 he was head of the cultural section of the journal Munka (Work). In 1975 he edited the poetry section of Új Írás (New Writing). Between 1985 and 1990, he was a contract staff member for the literary column of the daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet. In the intervening periods, he was a freelance writer.

His first book of poetry was published in 1965. Since then, he has published eleven volumes, two of which are collected poems, Boldog vérem (My Happy Blood) in 1979 and a volume of selected and new poems, Mivé lettél (What Have You Become), in 1998, as well as ten books of poetry, essays, and five works of children’s literature. His poetry translations have appeared in Poems of Mile Nedelkoski (with László Nagy, 1982), Miodrag Pavlović: Bright and Dark Holidays (1988), and in numerous anthologies translated from Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Finnish, Macedonian, Serbian, and Slovenian.

He has been a member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts since 1992.


The biography was written by Géza Vasy, translated by Benedek Totth and Austin Wagner.