Friday, 26 October 2012

Sudden Prose Reprints: section 3 of "Torso in the Window" by Ágnes Lehóczky


There are two confessionals in that baroque church, remember? He always queues at the one at the back, the one in shadow. He always disappears so quietly and diplomatically then reappears from the dark as if he was never gone. Into the dusk of the wooden, carved, ornamented box. Coarse coughing gives him away. The evening sieves through its grid between the forgiver, the forgiven. This Sunday morning, you say, one of them is out of order. There is heavy breathing, panting, snoring streaming out of the fissures of the wood. Attention flies out of the building. The priest’s words, disoriented, circulate like the bat’s flight we woke to one summer night, adrift in its circular voyage on our ceiling unable to find an exit. The vet says it might have nested in the invisible cavern behind the pelmet and perhaps by now brought forth a bat family. The ladder he uses is several metres long, he leans it upright, against his own reflection in the window. Directing it towards the sky. He requests silence. Gently tapping along the curtain rod centimetre by centimetre for something as soft, inept, dormant as a dream.

Ágnes Lehóczky is an Hungarian-born poet and translator. Her first full collection, Budapest to Babel, was published by Egg Box in 2008; her second one, Rememberer in 2012 (Egg Box) includes "Torso in the Window". Her collection of essays on the poetry of Ágnes Nemes Nagy, Poetry, the Geometry of Living Substance, was published in 2011 by Cambridge Scholars. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of Sheffield.


Robuscus said...

What makes this successful as a prose poem? Well, in Lehoczky's case, it has to be his vast hold on poetic language. "Evening sieves through its grid", disoriented words circulating like a bat's flight, "soft, inept dormant as a dream"; these words are just so flowing, and gentle and imaginative. There's something generally relaxing and soothing about this way of writing, almost like something you could read to a child to help them sleep. The overall tone is just so peaceful and quiet. Very successful if you're into that kind of thing.

Ben said...

‘Torso in the Window’ is a successful prose poem simply because the language that Lehoczky uses is very poetic and grandiose, but is presented as prose instead of lines. She also uses some poetic techniques, but subtly, such as rhyme with ‘flight’ and ‘night’, and the simile of the bat’s flight. Often prose poems seem to make an effort to be particularly obscure or experimental in order to distinguish themselves as entirely separate from both prose and line poetry, however I believe that Lehoczky has crafted a successful prose poem simply by writing a passage of prose poetically.