In Memoriam Andrew Singer

September 12, 2023

A photograph of Andrew Singer. Text reads: Andrew Singer. 1965-2023.I walked into Webster’s, a local café in State College, Pennsylvania, to meet a professor for the first time to discuss a project on literary translation. He was new to the Department of Comparative Literature at Pennsylvania State University, so I had no idea what to expect. Looking back, I cherish that first conversation that I ever had with Andrew Singer. We spoke for two hours over coffee discussing Europe, translation, and world literature. This eccentric man sitting before me with Andy Warholesque hair spoke with such passion and hope for what literature can do for the world. I had no idea then, but this conversation was the first of many to be had. Conversations that I cherish and will now miss. Not so surprisingly, response from the wider Trafika Europe and literary community has shown that Andrew’s impact has and continues to affect people across the globe.

Andrew Singer (1965–2023)

Andrew Singer, exceptional poet, author, artist, and educator, died on July 27, 2023, in New York, New York, after a battle with illness. He started out as a poet, eventually earning a master of arts in poetry at Boston University, where he studied creative writing under Derek Walcott and literary translation with Rosanna Warren. Despite having written poetry prior to his studies, literature became a possible future for Andrew at that time. In addition to his literature and art, Andrew was also a follower of the Bahá’i faith.

Andrew moved to Hungary in 1991 and lived there for twenty-two years. When he arrived, Hungary was undergoing a lot of changes in the post-Soviet era, and his skills in English led him to become an educator and cultural journalist. It is within this environment that he became involved in Trafika, a literary journal that presented contemporary literature from everywhere in the world in English translation. The project’s short lifespan of six years (1993–1999) exposed Andrew to a lot of different literatures and cultures. Upon the disbanding of Trafika, Andrew stayed in Budapest; however, Hungary was undergoing a new transition period away from western Europe and the United States to define what Hungarian culture was.

During this last phase in Budapest, Andrew began working with the International Club of Budapest where he learned from Ervin László and his theories. László’s ideas led to Andrew’s creation of Trafika Europe. Andrew based Trafika Europe on the fact that each culture and language of Europe, while independent and individual, becomes connected on various international and global fronts that expand beyond this individuality. Issues such as the environment, immigration, oceanography, and management of space, for example, all exceed the boundaries created by nations. The focus on Europe came due to what Andrew was observing on the continent at the time, notably that Europe’s rich cultural tradition, which has already existed for hundreds of years, has been put in conversation and collaboration more than ever before.

Andrew based Trafika Europe on the fact that each culture and language of Europe, while independent and individual, becomes connected on various international and global fronts that expand beyond this individuality.

Andrew officially launched Trafika Europe in 2014 in Scotland. The project began as a journal with the hopes of one day beginning a radio station. In 2020 Trafika Europe launched its radio program. Andrew has overseen twenty-three journal issues, hundreds of audio interviews, a radio livestream, archiving of literature and interviews, a dozen interns, and two seasoned editors. Furthermore, he assured that access to all of Trafika Europe remained free online. He managed to do so all the while continuing his drawings, his poetry, and caretaking for his mother. He had an outsized impact on literature, creatives, thinkers, and the people surrounding him.

Andrew’s legacy continues in many formats. Trafika Europe continues and will launch its seventh season of Trafika Europe Radio on September 17, 2023. The first day will be a tribute to Andrew Singer’s memory. His writing is also being assembled and will hopefully be published sometime in the near future.

Editorial note: The editors of WLT would like to express our deep sympathies to those affected by Andrew’s passing. He frequently reviewed books in our pages, including works by Tomas Tranströmer, László Krasznahorkai, and Valzhyna Mort.

Clayton McKee is a writer and translator currently splitting time between Pennsylvania and Nice, France. He has recently taken over as director of Trafika Europe after working as an editor for the project since 2015.