Bref, I read a lot of poetry translated from German and a lot of nonfiction translated from French. This is not very shocking. Much of my non-book reading happened at Asymptote: this reading (plus editing) is far more diverse and includes work by poets like Vicente Huidobro (Chile), Jan Dammu (Iraq), and writers who push at the limits of what translation means (the Special Feature in our January issue). One of my favorite pieces of this latter sort is Bronwyn Haslam’s anagrammatic translations of Nicole Brossard’s poetry (“Soft Links” becomes “Silk Fonts,” for example):
It’s nouns that gulp fire and life, one can’t tell if they’re Latin, French, Urdu, Veda, Cree, Mandarin, Aleut, Creole, Basque, English, secrete a number, deed, quorum, animal or accelerate old anxieties eddying before us in doubled somber contours full of luster and immense legends.
I also got to collaborate with my friend Michael Joseph Walsh to put together a different sort of experimental translation portfolio for Denver Quarterly 50.4 I have a few extra copies and would be happy to mail them to anyone interested (or you can subscribe). Joshua Ware’s visual translations of Celan appear as an online supplement to this portfolio here.
Photographs by Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault
For some years now I’ve been obsessed with a film by Yvon Marciano called Le cri de la soie (1996), which fictionalizes the life of pioneer psychiatrist Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault. This year I read two texts relevant to this film, de Clérambault’s case studies of women who developed an unusual sexual “passion” for silk and other textiles: Passion érotique des étoffes chez la femme (1908) and its suite (1910). Read More
– speak less of other people
– watch more good cinema
– sleep well
I found a poem I wrote on 06.04.09 called “A doctoral student confesses”—it is oddly prescient:
“so sound would be plural like description is” (Giscome Road 52)
“Sentences find you, style finds you on the road out; it overtakes you effortlessly, it palavers” (69)
* Read More
Bit of a shame I’m doing this on the last day of the month, but I’ve had some poems in the wonderful new issue of MiPOesias, edited by Sarah Blake. I’m sharing journal space with some really exciting poets, which I’m thrilled about.
MiPOesias April 2014
I also did a little blog post for Sarah Blake’s National Poetry Month Daily tumblr on something I love to think about: how people talk. There’s thirty poetry-related write-ups by poets on this blog, so lots to read and think about. Read More
Wanda Coleman. African Sleeping Sickness: Stories & Poems. 1990.
Wanda Coleman died on the twenty-second of November. I’d been introduced to her work roughly a year ago and hadn’t been able to let go of her long poem, “African Sleeping Sickness.” Some months ago I found her email address and contacted her. She gave me this stunning poem, which Asymptote published in its annual English Poetry Feature.
I knew Ms. Coleman had been ill, and you can find many instances of her thinking on her mortality in this poem:
My urine keeps getting darker, I must be passing.
But that very brief, personal admission is followed by a response—the poem is structured as a dialog—written in an entirely different register: a less inward-looking voice, a voice that opens out to a world of small, happy objects: a voice seeking, offering a sad pleasure, one could say.
Twenty-two cents, and a pack of mints
a rubber band and a paper clip.
Pass the bourbon and give it a kiss.
The title of the poem is “Tremors & Tempests: A Poetic Dialog.” The shaking, the sign of future destruction or pleasure, the barely perceptible movement, and the storm—that’s how I read it. And it’s a useful way to characterize the various natures of speech as well, or what are privately known quantities and what is gathered from public witnessing. Then, how these speak to each other.
I’ve also been thinking, via this poem, on the tension between the local and the international. Read More
The new issue of LIES/ISLE is out:
LIES/ISLE. Issue 7. THE DESERT.
I’m in it, so that makes me very happy. Read More