Lehóczky, Ágnes

Ágnes Lehóczky - Swimming Pool


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Ágnes Lehóczky - Swimming Pool

Published October 2017. Paperback, 150pp, 8.25 x 5.5ins, £12.95
ISBN 9781848615427 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]
Here the text or the poem is a swimming pool, a pool in which language or thought-as-body glide through cultural and or phenomenological spaces; fluid places for being, thinking or even swimming in the world. It is polyglot within English, let alone in relation to all the other tongues that are almost audible and to the maps of Europe that move to and fro somewhere beneath the text. The book is accompanied by three "guest" texts, a new poem by Denise Riley, another by Adam Piette, and a prose piece by Terry O'Connor, each of which serves to introduce one section of the book.

"This is a wonderful, extraordinary poem in so many ways, not quite like anything I know, though reminding me to go back, perhaps, to the Blake of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in its embrace of contraries, in its repeated transformation of either/or into both/and, of polarity as requiring both poles, of binaries as always inseparably fused into generous – and generative – singularities, of affirmation as inseparable from negation and vice versa, of interiority as always ambivalently yoked to exteriority, of literalness as layered into metaphor, memory, even allegory, of I as always superimposed on I, of person and voice as moving around in the fluidity of language and social exchange. No wonder that the poem here makes such recourse to layering, folding, piling, refraining, riffing on instabilities in grammatical class (often reaching for a verb from the interior of a noun, for example), concatenating the resulting variations in a singing continuity rather than a stumbling uncertainty between them. Nothing here is ever as simple as an unambiguous noun. What on earth, in the name of currency, is a pool? Occasionally a simple, and for that reason seductive, image is glimpsed: for a moment there is the clarity of a single swimmer’s body cutting a line through water, and then that clarity is not so much lost – it never is – but disallowed the status of whole, as ungenerous within these shifting overlays. The literal is thus inseparable from metaphor, perhaps also from allegory, since all is set in motion by a cumulative aggregation – though always already in motion – moving in and through the long poem-paragraphs, which themselves pile up in breath-defying sentences that themselves keep accumulating on the principle of echo, inclusiveness, alternation, always refusing to settle, even into a narrative possibility that at times beckons. Is this a richness, a playfulness between different potentials that surround one, that is only fully available to a true polyglot (Nabokov is explicitly there in the text, though as lepidopterist; Caroline Bergvall isn’t, but was in my mind). I do think the poem – for I think of it as single poem, with poems inside it and beside it – is very special." —John Hall
"This poetry carries a hand-full of soft stones that sink and surface, shiver between decomposition and preservation as she dries herself to recall movement through surfaces beneath and above them. This is a sustained interrogation of the construction of a self that is intricate; intimate as much as broad ranged; larger than the pool the poet enters; and up against melancholy as a prospectus on beauty or the unattainable. The poem compels attention to itself as it expands, alliterates, rhymes, moves off at tangent and is wonderfully obsessive. Pool is polis and micro-thought, dense and reconciled. It demands frailty and errors of perception that become portentous and then elusive in moth flickers, expansive and pulled into itself, frightened and pervasive. The book celebrates a powerful engagement." —Allen Fisher

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