In the next couple of years, Christian Lux will be publishing a German translation of my selected poems, All the Whiskey in Heaven. Norbert Lange and company have been working on the translation with marvelous ingenuity and astonishing dedication. Norbert, Christian and I first met in January whne I did a reading at Lyrik Kabinett. We next read together last month at the Berlin Literary Festival ("Reveal Codes") and then at Lettrétage.
The great French poet Anne-Marie Albiach died today, after a long illness.
Albiach was born in 1937 and for many years lived in Neuilly sur Seine on the outskirts of Paris. Her major collections include Etat (Mercure de France, 1971; republished 1988), Mezza voce (Flammarion, 1984), Anawratha (Spectres Familiers, 1984) and Figure vocative (1985; reissued by Fourbis, 1991), and Figurations de l'image (Flammarion, 2004). She edited Siècle à mains with Claude Royet-Journoud & Michel Courturier. Royet-Journoud writes that, for him, the 1971 publication of Etat “changed the ‘face’ of poetry.”
Albiach has been fortunate in her American translators. Keith Waldrop worked for 12 years on Etat (Awede, 1989). Mezza Voce (Post-Apollo, 1988) was translated by Joey Simas in collaboration with Lydia Davis, Anthony Barnett and Douglas Oliver. Vocative Figure (Allardyce-Barnett, UK, 1992) was translated by Anthony Barnett and Joey Simas. Rosmarie Waldrop has published a translation of Travail Vertical et Blanc in her Série d'Écriture (#4, Spectacular Diseases, 1990).
Jean-Marie Gleize's Albiach was the first book on her complete work (Editions Belin, Paris, 1995). In the U.S., essays on her work have been written by Keith Waldrop, Paul Auster, Benjamin Hollander, Geoffrey O'Brien, Joseph Simas, Norma Cole, Michael Palmer, Alan Davies, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Gale Nelson, Rosmarie Waldrop, Jonathan Skinner, Don Wellman, Peter Ramos, Cole Swenson and others.
Earlier this year I wrote about Rob Fitterman's "Holocaust Museum," Heimrad Backer's "Transcript," Christian Boltanski's "To be a Jew in Paris in 1939," and the documentary poetics of Raul Hilberg in a commentary called "The Picture Intentionally Left Blank." Like many, I resist the expressive deceptions of traditional memorials, which is why Maya Lin's Vietnam memorial is for me the more perfect embodiment of what is possible, not so much negative capability as negative dialectics.
A roundtable with Charles Bernstein & Leevi Lehto with Frederik Hertzberg, Teemu Ikonen, Karri Kokko, Hasso Krull, Leevi Lehto, Olli Sinivaara, and Miia Toivio at the Kiasma Art Museum, Helsinki, August 24, 2004
"But the basic conception that we realized last night was that there’s too much proliferation of the many languages in the world, and we need to understand what the root or the ur-language is that is behind all languages, the pre-Babelian state, and we are proposing that Finno-Saxon really is the mother of all languages, the deep language that underwrites all other human languages … because if we can establish that, we really could create much more stability in international semiotic exchange."