I’ve been asked to comment on Ron Silliman’s excellent talk “Your Monsters Are Our Monsters: The Problem of Borders and the Nearness of the American Avant-Garde.” In Silliman’s “L-shaped talk,” the shape itself merits consideration.
On February 20, 2012, Erín Moure traveled from Calgary, Alberta, to read at a Belladonna* event, part of the “HOT TEXTS” project. She read with Rachel Levitsky and Christian Hawkey, and was introduced by Emily Skillings. Skillings and Krystal Languell hosted the event, which took place at The Way Station in Prospect Heights Brooklyn. Episode #41 of the PennSound podcasts series, hosted and edited by Emily Harnett, features a twenty-minute excerpt from the reading after a three-minute introduction.
In preparation for this week’s commentary, I was flipping through TCR’s recent special issue on multilingualism, and I came across a very interesting essay on translation by Erín Moure. The essay is structured as a kind of journal or daybook recording the process of translating Québecois poet François Turcot’s Mon dinosaureinto English. Mouré describes translation not as “bearing across” (get it?!), but as “a poiesis,a making. Each small piece of the Turcot poem, in English, takes hours of building, forming syllables, seeing how they interact.”
Nicole Brossard is one of Québec’s leading poets, novelists, and literary theorists, and has published more than thirty books since 1965, including These Our Mothers, Lovhers, Mauve Desert and Baroque at Dawn. Brossard also co-founded La Barre du Jour and La Nouvelle Barre du Jour, two important literary journals in Québec.
To grasp this amazing book — this doubled and redoubled book — is indeed to hold a lucky hand. To read the words of Hogue and Gallais translating Virginie Lalucq and Jean-Luc Nancy is not just to devour a long poem. It is also to receive a device for reading poetry and for exploring the possibilities of lyric address, for opening spaces in and between two languages, French and English.
LISTEN TO THE SHOW Erín Moure is a poet, translator, and communications specialist living in Montreal. She was born and raised in Calgary, and later spent two decades working for the Canadian passenger rail service Via Rail Canada. Erín’s great-grandfather was born in the Galicia region of northwest Spain, and as an adult Erín began visiting Galicia regularly. She picked up the Galician language, and has since written poetry in Galician and translated the work of Galician poets including Chus Pato and Rosalia de Castro.
At one time or another, Erín Moure has inhabited and continues to inhabit the localities of many subjectivity-figures, including Erin Mouré, Eirin Moure, Elisa Sampedrín, a plethora of medieval Iberian troubadours, the fervent person that is Fernando Pessoa that is Alberto Caeiro, Nicole Brossard, Chus Pato, Andrés Ajens, Nichita Stănescu, Paul Celan, Louise Dupré, more philosophers than can be listed here, and even Oana Avasilichioaei.
And as with all localities, these localities also come with their own histories, cultures and languages, including English, French, Galician, Portuguese, Spanish and Romanian, which Moure traverses not with ease, but responsibly, as responsive citizen. “To connect is so unconquerable a citizen only a gift may vibrate.” (O Cidadán) Moure’s work demands that we discover where in the disconnect between two languages can one connect; can one gift one language with the contours of the other language; can one shape a subject with a gesture of the other subject.
I'm in Banff, Alberta, attending a long-weekend-long conference called "interventions"--focused on new writing practices.I'm in Banff, Alberta, attending a long-weekend-long conference called "interventions"--focused on new writing practices. The best thing about it is that most of the presenters are practicing artists. This morning, for instance, Jen Bervin showed us several of her textile/weaving projects--one a brilliant weaving of Emily Dickinson's fascicles. Lance Olsen (an old graduate school chum) and Steve Tomasula on various forms of digital/hypermedia fiction. Fred Wah starts a talk about collaboration by talking about using tea mold for a mealtime art project. I'm meeting many Canadian writers whom I'd not known before. Erin Moure and J.R. Carpenter among them. Maria Damon riffs on connections between schmata and schema-ta, a raggy poetics, in response to the matter of the state of the sentence. Craig Dworkin (best paper, to my mind, of the conference) starts with the Poundian/imagist compression of the sentence and does exemplary literary history in a short paper. There's a ton there. I moderated a panel on the state of reading today and tomorrow I will present a manifesto in 6 minutes. Hearing tales of the Wah-bash (the celebration of Fred Wah's retirement from active teaching near here in Calgary). Finally, after all these years, met Derek Beaulieu--a treat. Kenny Goldsmith found a moment to insert his stump speech about uncreative writing, and he chose the perfect moment. Charles Bernstein started his talk by being absent, then showed us some stunning slides of his collaborations with painters over the years. Met a young man, Mike, who lives in a cabin in northern Northwest Territory, has a satellite-enabled WiFi and uses PennSound recordings as a lifeline to the world of poetry in the provinces and states below. John Cayley yesterday used the (Brown University) "cave" (3D virtual textual environment) to draw the distinction between our seeing objects floating before us (not "on" a surface) and our seeing words in such a scene. We just can't see the words as things. Chris Funkhouser performed the other night, sheet over head, as a dancing bounding text reflector, and played a one-string instrument his mother had bought him years ago. He's finally found a use for it. Christian Bok unveiled his new project: infecting can't-be-killed microbial life with text so that it will survive the death of readers. Writing that really lasts. As someone observed, he's gotten so far past the traditionalist's lament about writing for the ages that he's back to it. Humanism rears its viral head.
Julia Bloch and Sarah Dowling are taking good notes on everything and intend to write an article. Steven Ross Smith, organizer, says he will get us recordings so that we can put a selection on PennSound.