A man of many Odysseys, Paul Hartal is a Canadian poet, writer and artist born in Szeged, Hungary. His volume of cognitive and lyric poems, The Sinuosity of Straight Passions, was published in 2013 by Finishing Line Press Georgetown, KY. The author's books include Postmodern Light, poetry,2006, Love Poems 2004, The Brush and the Compass 1988, Painted Melodies 1983, A History of Architecture 1972 and The Kidnapping of the Painter Miró novel,1997,2001. The latter has also been published in Chinese translation by the Commercial Press of Taiwan in 2014.
In 1975 Paul Hartal published in Montreal A Manifesto on Lyrical Conceptualism. Lyco Art is a new element on the periodic table of aesthetics, which intertwines the logic of passion with the passion of logic. In 1980 the Lyrical Conceptualist Society hosted the First International Poetry Exhibition in Montreal. A few years later Hartal formed the Centre for Art, Science and Technology, which Clifford Pickover describes in Mazes for the Mind as a network that " facilitates the exchange of ideas between various domains of human knowledge" .
In 1978 Hartal exhibited his paintings at the Musée du Luxembourg and the Raymond Duncan Gallery in France and his canvas Flowers for Cézanne won the Prix de Paris. He also presented his oeuvre in museums and galleries in New York, Montreal, Budapest, as well as many other places. Representing Canada, his work was featured at the cultural events of the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
An explorer of global habitats and cultures, Hartal has traveled through Europe, North-America, Argentina, Australia, China, Japan and Korea. His research interests focus on the connectivity of art, mathematics and science. He has been involved in interdisciplinary symmetry studies and in 1994 NASA invited him to participate in visionary space exploration projects.
In the 1970s the poet attended Concordia University in Montreal and wrote a thesis on Aesthetics and History. He also holds degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Columbia Pacific University 1986. CPU was an innovative school in San Rafael, state approved and supervised by the Department of Education in California. Hartal's dissertation, The Interface Dynamics of Art and Science was published by University Press of America under the title, The Brush and the Compass New York,1988. The interdisciplinary periodical Ylem published excerpts from the book. Vie des Arts and The Montreal Mirror described it as a 'thought-provoking work bridging art and science'. The volume also generated wide interest overseas.
As a student at the University of Medicine in Szeged, Hartal participated in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. A few months later he burnt all his poems and papers and escaped to freedom.
Horace long ago observed that by implication all poetry is didactic: It aims to instruct and delight. Paul Hartal approaches poetry from a different angle; embracing the credo that the heart of poetry is the poetry of the heart. A recurring theme of his recent work explores the human tragedies of wars and genocides. He is not a newcomer to the field. In March 1944 German troops occupied Hungary and the future poet at eight years of age was imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camp of Strasshof in Austria. He was liberated by the Russians a year later.
Writing about the Shoah experience is a gloomy and difficult task. Indeed, the philosopher Theodor Adorno once remarked that writing poetry after Auschwitz is not only barbaric but even impossible. Yet Hartal begs to differ. In his opinion, after Auschwitz we require even more poetry than before. Poetry precipitates catharsis. Poetry heals the soul. We need to extract light from the core of darkness, he says. We need poetry to commemorate and to remember the victims; to denounce the villains. We need poetry to solemnize magnanimous acts of sacrifice. We need the magic power of verse, extolling heroes, honoring courage and compassion.
Oranges And Grapes
Oranges and grapes refuse to grow in the cold.
Today I sing and dance, refuse to grow old.
Yet all the same, time is tyrant and ruthless,
Unfolds my wrinkling years, it is relentless.
Now and then the lots seem to be gentle and kind,
But alloyed with fate the somnambulist is blind.
Luck and fortuity might act as a soubrette,
Life spins our fate like roulette in a film set.
Still, let us drink to life, celebrate, and be glad,
Let us sing and dance today, refuse to be sad.
Oranges and grapes do not grow in the cold,
A warm wind ties ribbons to maple leaves of gold.
My love soars high above trees and towers,
Carries to my beloved a bouquet of flowers.