Images, mon ami (PoemTalk #116)

Anne Tardos, 'Uxudo'

From left: Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Ariel Resnikoff, Stephen Ross.

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Al Filreis was joined by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Ariel Resnikoff, and Stephen Ross to talk about five sections — or pages or passages — from a book called Uxudo by Anne Tardos. Only one of the five has a title (the first of our selections, called “She Put It Mildly”). Those who have access to the Tuumba Press/O Books edition of the book can follow along: our five sections, in the order in which we hear Tardos perform them, can be found on pages 55, 19, 31, 43, and 53. On PennSound’s Anne Tardos author page, one can find all five of these sections, and others, in the recording made of her performance at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, in 1999, at an event sponsored by “After-Englishes.” The texts and recordings are available here below.

The PoemTalkers discuss the remarkable aural scene Tardos creates: casual conversations overlap as if in a Mitteleuropean café. “It’s very non-threatening,” Rachel adds, partly because the book includes still photos of people who look like friends. It all has to do with the social meaning of the cosmopolitan. So while we feel comfortably invited in to this congenial Babel/babble of French, German, English, and Hungarian words and deeply demotic idiomatic phrases, there is a strong advocacy of the European mode of cultural and linguistic mélange and what turns out to feel like, especially in an era of intense nationalism and xenophobia, a stalwart resistance. That implicit resistance leads Al to suggest, despite the free, talky tone and formulation of the text, that there’s a didactic subtext. What is Tardos saying urgently about our relationship with language? Ariel responds: It’s in the urgency of the untranslatability of what’s at the root or ground or essence of being cross-lingual, of experiencing the “chaos that takes place between languages.” Chaos, yes, but something to which one beautifully, marvelously adjusts. As one does when reading and listening to Uxudo.

PoemTalk #116 was recorded and engineered in the Wexler Studio of the Kelly Writers House by Zach Carduner and Annie Fang, and edited by Zach Carduner. The PoemTalk team wishes to thank Nathan and Elizabeth Leight for a generous grant that supports this series.

At the 1999 “After-Englishes” event in Manoa, Hawaii, Tardos gave an introduction to the Uxudo project. She then read passages from the book. Here are our five poems/sections/pages:


“She Put It Mildly,” 55 [audio segment here; audio recording starts at 00:00 here]. Click on the image above for a larger view of the text.


“All sins of all cats rolled into one,” 19 [audio segment here; this portion of complete reading starts at 01:20 here]. Click on the image above for a larger view of the text.


“Houghgeduld after nine from a fountain,” 31 [audio segment here; this portion of the complete recording starts at 05:30 here]. Click on the image above for a larger view of the text.


“Lorraine hug-a-bee hiaba,” 43 [audio segment here; this portion of the complete audio recording starts at 07:56 here]. Click on the image above for a larger view of the text. 


“Szep anyag didn’t run Summerdrum,” 53 [audio segment here; this portion of the complete recording starts at 08:40 here]. Click on the image above for a larger view of the text.

Click on the image of the Uxudo page below for access to a PDF of all five pages discussed in this PoemTalk:

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