Winner of Hungary's Kossuth Prize in 1993 as well as the Austrian Herder Prize in 1994, Kányádi is one of Hungary's living classics. Born in Nagygalambfalva, Transylvania (Porumbenii Mari in Romanian) into a family of Szekler peasants, he received his diploma at the Bólyai University of Kolozsvár in 1954. He worked subsequently as an editor of the Irodalmi Almanach [Literary Almanac], the weekly Utunk [Our Path], t Kányádi sees in poetry a vital link to his fellow sufferers, a fraternal bridge of words, that spans culture and time. His own work has been translated into many languages, including English, German, French, Romanian, Finnish and Estonian.
His is a socio-therapeutic poetry of immense importance, preserving national cultural identity in the face of non negligible odds. He alternates between the traditional rhymed couplet and stream-of-consciousness cast in free verse form, also experimenting with shamanistic rhythm, a recurrent element of folklore over the past millennium. His masterpiece All Souls Day in Vienna [Halottak napja Bécsben], in which he laments the fate of Hungarians scattered throughout the world, is a symphony in words, drawing together the past, the present and the future, as the poet listens to Mozart's Requiem Mass in a church in Vienna.