by Andrea Schmidt
Radoslav Rochallyi, a Slovak poet with a Hungarian surname who lives in Prague and Malta, writes a mathematical poetry that is not easy to understand. His latest collection, PUNCH, builds on his previous experimental collections, including Golden Divine (self-published, 2016) and DNA (European Open Culture Network, 2019). Golden Divine is a prototype of formal fundamentalism in poetry, employing a restriction according to the Greek letter phi, which represents the golden ratio. In DNA, Rochallyi threw himself into another rule, one derived from the title formula.
PUNCH is a free continuation of this form of experimentation, and it is Rochallyi's best work so far, in that he seems better able to find a tolerable relationship between formalism and freedom. The first impression when you open the book is that you are looking at mathematical equations—ones that you cannot read. Then, after a while, you begin to perceive patterns and find that you can read the text in different ways, suggesting that this poetry is a critique of semantics and language as such. Here is a sample:
As the reader progresses through the volume, they are apt to feel that Rochallyi's project is not only a critique of language, but also a beautiful, direct confession that tears up the metaphysical ambiguity of life. The poems obsessively sing about suffering in time and the potential for radical dissolution in life. Importantly, Rochallyi turns away from cynicism and towards hope. Full of paradoxes in both content and form, PUNCH can be considered one of the most important works of experimental poetry in the last decade.