The ninth and latest edition of the Budapest-based, English-language literary and arts magazine Panel deals with the harrowing subject of war and the shifting concept of home. Publisher Masha Kamenetskaya and her dedicated team, some personally affected by the nearby conflict, made the brave decision to dedicate their recent issue to experiences and reactions over the border and beyond. The result, available at leading bookstores across Budapest, is a raw, honest documentation, and one offering hope to all concerned.
Having published eight previous editions of their cultural magazine, an offshoot of Budapest Friday Night Stories at Massolit bookstore, the team at Panel was immediately plunged into a serious dilemma about the next one.
Until now, the content had mainly revolved around Budapest – although, as pointed out in one of our previous articles, there were plans to broaden Panel’s horizons around the region.
Then, suddenly, war broke out in Ukraine, a war they could neither ignore nor treat lightly – not least because their members were close to people personally involved. Apart from helping out wherever they could, rushing to the border to distribute food, blankets and warmth, they realised they should provide contemporary Ukrainian writers and artists with an outlet to express their thoughts and creative reactions to what was going on around them.
“All along,” say Panel’s Masha Kamenetskaya and Maria Gyarmati, “we have had to deal with something that has been tearing us apart from the inside out”.
Within edition 9, underscored by compassion, prose and non-fiction pieces reflect concepts of loss and home. Books by contemporary Ukrainian writers are reviewed, anti-war poetry published and, in more of a departure to previous editions, works by Ukrainian artists were both reproduced in Panel and exhibited at the MÁNYI Kulturális Műhely. Some may be available in print form at Panel events later this autumn.
As Maria Gyarmati expresses so well in her short essay, Canvas of War: “Artists absorb reality and turn it into beauty and emotions on canvas… Ukrainian artists capture the horror that surrounds them… Russian artists who oppose the war are struggling to make their voices heard as well… In this issue of the magazine, we publish works by artists reflecting on their most difficult experiences, the demons of war, despair, with the hope that all the bloodshed will soon end”.