Issue 29: Ágnes Lehóczky

Apropos the former Agora on cobbled Paradise Square. Neither hot nor cold, I will spue thee out of my mouth, goes one of mother’s much preferred spasmic sayings from the Book of Revelations. Intrinsically, for what it’s worth, it occurs to me, your own involuntary tremor brought about by such inflammatory lexis, paradoxically, brings forth another type of ataractic longing for the release exactly from it, for an ease at being in, viz. inhabiting language as some dialetheic metropolis (viz. mothercity, built, in your case, as if a transformation trope, its supreme design carried out by careful urban planning as pars pro toto, funded by the city’s benefactors, of symmetrical rows of terraces, each, from the outside, a series of the model home, a former primary house, epitome of one’s somewhat primordial desire for a prime (ultimate) destination; from the inside, an institutionalised open mad house of being, asymmetric asylum and/or unquiet quarantine; picture this paradox as your own poet’s home, positioned on the corner of S1 2DE, an imposing Georgian building with large open windows facing the square – which at this precise moment in time is – thronged by the campaigning crowd, by one of which, look, the figure of your poet figurine is framed, caught in the middle of chanting a poem in ferocious protest, hissing through the mouth of a loudspeaker larger than yourself, relics of a collective verse echoed, reverberated by heart, viz. bounced back by the open market square, the volatile constitution of a syntax excluding and/or including (you) which offers you the illusion of a language cradle, a kind of  (con)foundation of bene- and malediction, which is simultaneously secure and/or wobbly, both a safe or hazardous, temporary and finite linguistic construction, which, being inherently inconsistent, both mobile and immobile, both holds (your body) and gives (this very same and other body) up, an opening (kind of life) sentence drawn out of a metaphorical mouth, which (in 3-D) you could imagine as a lopsided cradle, cage or cave which simultaneously attracts and/or detracts, devours and/or regurgitates (your poet figurine) and thus conjures – needless to add, deceptively – both wholeness and hiatus, and thus destines you to either orbit around or walk (viz. write), all the way through life on a tightrope stretched above this dark hole, at times an enormous aperture (as in gateway, functioning as both entrance and exit), at times as tiny as a dot, viz. iota, viz. full/glottal stop. But, look, whatever appears absent, acrimonious or inaccessible earlier, Kristeva writes in Black Sun on depression and melancholia, eventually, i.e. in time, i.e. sooner or later (i.e. inescapably, or finally, i.e. at the end of the day), will re-appear accessible or real/secure in the form of supplements, by means of for now what you might call playthings, concrete and/or abstract, but mostly abstract, viz. by your imaginary, i.e. invented mode of modelling, as verbatim, word for word, so to say, a kind of (self)quotation, a kind of verbal (re)siting, by which I mean by way of mimesis, repetition, or staging language ghosts, a kind of dramatisation of what’s been directly or secondarily verbally witnessed (by which I mean said or heard), re-enacted by memory, manifest in form and shape, viz. externalised, in the shape and form of child- or adulthood toys, such as dolls, dummies, maquettes or other real life miniatures which for now I will name memes, i.e. words. By this, you could say, the (formerly muted) child viz. (presently immutable) adult(child), or your so called ghost tomboy (who, time and time again, is tried and found guilty of witchcraft), your rigorous, loyal phantom stenographer, is resourceful, and thus, whichever way possible will automatically attempt to act out her long-planned soft rebellion, to fix this caesura, to replace language loss (retrospectively) and populate the gap (prospectively), the hiatus (of the approving and/or disapproving mouth), inflate absence viz. disappearance with the pretence of a kind of presence, secure the fragile framework of one’s first origin(al) house (by which I mean a kind of healthcare resort, say a sanatorium, a clinic or a spa or a floating boathouse even) by way of replicating its exact structure by say with and from the architecture or design of an origami sentence. By which you simply might just mean, as the saying goes, if you say a, you mustn’t also say b (nor fuse the two), otherwise you might sound like the amnesiac child who, when questioned post event viz. retrospectively, viz. posthumously, couldn’t decide whether she was the victim or the witness and, when her memory probed, and her mouth finally unsealed, could not remember whether she was or wasn’t here or here she wasn’t or here she was or if she perhaps wasn’t’ was at all.


[Ágnes Lehóczky's poetry collections published in the UK are Budapest to Babel (Egg Box Publishing, 2008), Rememberer (Egg Box Publishing, 2012), Carillonneur (Shearsman Books, 2014) and Swimming Pool (Shearsman Books, 2017). She also has three full poetry collections in Hungarian: ikszedik stáció (Universitas, 2000), Medalion (Universitas, Budapest, 2002) and Palimpszeszt (Magyar Napló, Budapest, 2015). She is author of the academic  monograph  on the poetry of Ágnes Nemes Nagy, Poetry, the Geometry of the Living Substance (2011). She was  winner of the Jane Martin Prize for Poetry at Girton College, Cambridge, in 2011. Her pamphlet Pool Epitaphs and Other Love Letters was published by Boiler House in May 2017. She co-edited major international anthologies, the Sheffield Anthology; Poems from the City Imagined (Smith / Doorstop, 2012) with Adam Piette, The World Speaking Back to Denise Riley (Boiler House, 2017) with Zoe Skoulding, and Wretched Strangers (Boiler House, 2018) with J.T. Welsch. She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, Course Convenor of the MA in Creative Writing and Director of the Centre for Poetry & Poetics at the University of Sheffield. Her pamphlet, part of a larger project, is due out with Crater Press in Spring 2023. Am earlier draft of the poem for Geraldine in this collective has appeared in Disease, an anthology published by Carnaval Press in 2022.]


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