A new sequence of poems from Ágnes Lehóczky with a short poem by Denise Riley written by way of introduction.
“Enter this book as into a pool: the waters are deep, revivifying, full of wonders, transformations, swirls of wild speculation, matter for dreaming and antimatter for spooky epitaph-emptinesses. Risk immersion, if you dare, in wells of language and of the heart. Enter the pool of language, memory, strange encounter, meet Celan, Sebald, Derrida, Bosch, Attila József, Vasari, and hosts of other artists of water and flows of mind. Meet your watery other, the swimmer within. And enjoy, with the same inky blocks on the page, a wonderful cultural history of the swimming pool, a liquid space for Ágnes Lehóczky’s exploration of her times, her encounters, her languages, in England, in Budapest, in the Europe of the spirit so soon to be abandoned.”
— Adam Piette
“One of the most important, thoughtful poem sequences, by one of the most important, thoughtful poets of my generation.
Writing-swimming both against, yet also necessarily alongside, tides of self-doubt, Eros and Thanatos, from a pool that is also – to borrow a term from Andrew Epstein – a transformation trope: an ‘absent pool present for now’; a ‘pond full of various magic and mirage’ … ‘long morphed into a landscape somewhere else.’
The poem (which is also love letters and a series of epitaphs) is that too. It reconfigures place as memory, chronology as feeling, physical movement as phenomenology, image as dialectic. Lehóczky’s genius is to make the ordinary appear to us always extraordinarily, and the extraordinary, ordinarily – and both very beautifully: ‘O that thin and invisible border between the beautiful and the / bizarre, the beatific and the brutal’ – as if in answer to the call of the purpose of ‘The Spiritual Work of Art’ (Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit).
‘[A]s if one’s (eternal) life were at stake’.”
— Emily Critchley
The cover features Poolscape #27 from Karine Laval’s Poolscapes series.
Ágnes Lehóczky is an Hungarian-born poet, scholar and translator originally from Budapest. Her poetry collections published in the UK are Budapest to Babel (Egg Box Publishing, 2008), Rememberer (Egg Box Publishing, 2012) and Carillonneur (Shearsman Books, 2014). She also has three poetry collections in Hungarian: ikszedik stáció (Universitas, 2000), Medalion (Universitas, Budapest, 2002) and Palimpszeszt (Magyar Napló, Budapest, 2015). She was the winner of the Arthur Welton Poetry Award 2010 and the inaugural co-winner of the Jane Martin Prize for Poetry at Girton College, Cambridge, in 2011. She was Hungary’s representative poet for Poetry Parnassus at Southbank Centre during London’s Cultural Olympiad in Summer 2012. Her collection of essays on the poetry of Ágnes Nemes Nagy, Poetry, the Geometry of the Living Substance, was published in 2011 by Cambridge Scholars, and a libretto of hers was commissioned by Writers’ Centre Norwich for The Voice Project at Norwich Cathedral as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2011. She currently works as a lecturer and teaches creative writing at the University of Sheffield.
Pool Epitaphs and Other Love Letters