There is no escape from internal rhyme or rhythm, however much contemporary poetics might have.
Perhaps a deep-seated Tel Quel suspicion helps: Of all the poets here, Joseph Guglielmi is perhaps the most openly concerned with formalism, going so far as to establish an ironclad octosyllabic line in Fins de vers , while otherwise defying all the usual restrictions of French poetic language. Guglielmi is at home in languages: As a result, foreign languages and quotations in them pepper his texts: All testify to his textual identity as a postmodern poetician, one whose work might have been translated into a musical score or an artistic installation.
In trying to assign a definition to this formalist preoccupation, Liliane Giraudon recalls one of Hocquard's formulas: Meaning is to be found in line with poetry, in poetry's indivisible trajectory. Although some of the demands of poetry remain unchanged, today's poetry is dramatically at variance with the cerebral, conceptual efforts of the sixties. An unabashedly intelligent poetry, it is also moving, humorous, meaningful, and. Furthermore, as in Guglielmi's case, the re current formalist trend is marked by a concurrent change in language.
Poetic expression no longer borrows heavily from linguistics; it no longer insists on issues pertaining to grammar or syntax; finally, it certainly doesn't see itself as existing solely on a metapoetic level though all of the above may at times still be present. The languages within the French language that. But even in the manifestations of these so-called ordinary languages laid bare of their most visible rhetorical effects , neologisms, for example, are difficult to spot, since the French language steadfastly refuses such incursions into its expressive field.
From the time of Ciceronian poetics, the body has played a fundamental part in justifying eloquence. Cicero may have been the first master rhetorician to accord importance to emotions, pathos, gestural language—to all the elements dependent on the body that philosophy had, ever since Plato, prudently avoided. Roland Barthes put it the most succinctly: Writing passes through the body. The body's presence is closely associated with vocalization, if the body is to be more than a distanced representation, a textualized body, something to be described rather than heard.
Marcelin Pleynet is clear on this subject, both in his novels and in some of his erotic poems which are reminiscent of the eighteenth-century Venetian poet Baffo and, closer to the present, to Apollinaire or to Aragon's calendar in In the new poetics being expounded today, however, the presence of the body through orality must be taken seriously.
When Maurice Roche declares, in "The Body's Design" translated in the appendix to his interview , that "we write with our bodies"—Nietzsche went farther, saying that we. Of all the writers selected here, with the possible exception of Marcelin Pleynet, Maurice Roche is the most concerned with the body—his own body, specifically. When Roche insists on corporality rather than on the body itself as a figure of speech, a geometry of the mind, he does so in Villonesque terms, showing life being eaten away by death, which will unavoidably claim it.
Roche's accompanying drawings, of a charmingly macabre bent, highlight this preoccupation with the disintegration of the body and, as a consequence, of the text itself, for one belongs to the other, and it is impossible—as Cicero understood it—to separate corporal truth from literary eloquence. Roche then joins the company of those writers who have, often in a most un-French manner, worked over the body in their texts.
For them the body is not merely an image; it is a form of discourse, with its own terms of expression. This discourse is indeed far removed from Ronsard's lyrical declarations of love to his idolized ladies. In Pleynet's work the body is more explicitly socialized than in Roche's. Erotic themes such as homosexuality, which up to now have rarely been the direct topic of literary works, find their way into his prose and poetry. For Pleynet it is the voice—in absolute distinction from the written word—that permits rules of decorum to be violated.
In his most recent novel. Writing orality allows both to reenter the matter of poetics. Narration is making a comeback, thanks to a lyrical reinvestment in an authorial I —however tempered by structural and linguistic concerns—inherited from the recent past. The clearest indication of this development is a shift from the nearly impenetrable writings of Sollers in the sixties to Leslie Kaplan's novels, Liliane Giraudon's short stories, and Maurice Roche's interest in telling "good story.
But the prevalence of narration is not limited to fiction. Claude Royet-Journoud may surprise some of his readers by insisting that his poetry reflects the structure of the detective story. What is surprising, in fact, is his vision of narration, which defies the usual principles as these are currently understood in the United States, especially by writers of narrative poetry. Royet-Journoud's allusion to the detective story incorporates both the notion of obstacle and that of discovery.
Whereas the phrase "to turn a new leaf" is used metaphorically in English, in Royet-Journoud's vision of the physical nature of the book it is taken literally. It thus becomes the necessary base for all other pages to come.
- My Love is But a Lassie Yet / The White Cockade!
The difference of this vision becomes only too apparent in a bilingual anthology in which the English figures on the left and the French on the right, a strategy that immediately vitiates the concept of narration in its deeper sense. That is why, given the blank verso that is integral to Royet-Journoud's "Port de voix," the. French and English texts are not placed en face in this anthology. This narration is explicit, visible, and tactile: On this conceptual level a narration unravels that coexists with the theme of any particular book.
In Royet-Journoud's scriptural universe, to turn the page is not a mechanical operation; quite the contrary, it is tantamount to overcoming an obstacle, thereby also founding the possibility of discovery. Thus, movement itself has meaning, movement that is not limited to the verbal procession of words, though the text is clear on its "mission. Although plot and characters have reappeared, an identifiable distance remains between French and American interpretations of such terms, particularly to the extent that the French believe the American model to have been influenced largely by the poetry of Walt Whitman as opposed to the more elusive poetry of Emily Dickinson.
The contrasts between the American model and the French avant-garde would then be located in the way narration has been rethought and considerably modified in France. When reading Jacqueline Risset's Sept passages de la vie d'une femme or the more recent L'Amour de loin , one is struck not only by the performative I in these two collections but also by a narrative insistence in both. The first alludes to Stefan Zweig's Twenty-four Hours in the Life of a Woman , which inspires the telling of the events that define the concept of passage.
These "passages" range from micronarratives to the larger context of writers and thinkers that inform the text. Freud, Dante, and Gertrude Stein figure among the latter in the second collection. They are there, as is the poetics of the troubadours, to enrich the "plot," to provide it with a referential echo, so that through the adjunction of mythological, linguistic, psychoanalytic, or autobiographical elements the poem becomes a layered text, existing on a number of cellular levels, both personal, in which emotions are undisguised, and formal, in which.
For Michel Deguy narration is a concept too easily confused with a representative sector of American poetry in which the poet "lives" his times and exploits his feelings, either in short, uncorrected poems like Allen Ginsberg's or in larger works like Robert Lowell's historical poems, in which individual consciousness also reigns Deguy does not, for all that, exclude the narrative from his work; instead he redefines it and, in a metaphoric illustration, circumvents the genre: Deguy's work falls in a number of genres, from polemical nonfiction  to a poetry rich in intellectual manifestations.
His professional responsibilities as codirector of Galerie Lelong in Paris and New York have provided him with analogies to the visual arts that allow him to free his story from the story. First, he appreciates the possibility of substitution and the option of inserting quotations in the text. And second, he has mastered the fragmented narrative, whose origins go back to Dada, if not further. The narrative need no longer follow a linear pattern; the writer is no longer responsible for the "invention" of the tale.
Meaning is constructed through borrowing and incorporating other texts. This referential order is indicated sometimes by the use of italics or quotes, sometimes by the insertion of proper names to document the extratextual sources. But often material is included without specifically acknowledging its origin. This patchwork poetics Pound and Zukofsky were masters at it now orders the composition of a narration in which discontinuities are as much witness to the telling of a story as the plot structure had once been in a Greek tragedy.
Leslie Kaplan's work further illustrates the differences between narrative as conceived in contemporary French and American literature. Kaplan has systematically returned to her stylistic-philosophic vision of the world in her novels. Her identifiable practices are not of aesthetic intention but rather of what I would call a "philo-graphic" intention.
Thus, the problem of simultaneity is resolved in Kaplan's insistence on providing the reader with a coexistential, nonnormative series of snapshots, "insignificant" events, and sound or color sketches that document a given moment. Through them, a story of passion unfolds in which individuals find themselves in the protective custody of "real" clouds, smoke, noises, people, buses. The reader recognizes the world within which fiction evolves—in the case of Le Pont de Brooklyn , a world that is close at hand for many American readers, since the novel appears to be situated in New York.
Kaplan's portrayal of New York lends itself to immediate recognition, and yet in the novel's scriptural insistence, it disturbs the conventional, passive relation between reader and text. This double aspect—in which narrative is combined with an ever-present writerly preoccupation—produces a novel that is fiction in the generally accepted sense, all the while resembling poetry as it locates and then dislocates the site of the real.
Two examples highlight the differences and similarities between Kaplan's fiction and that of American practitioners of the genre: Viking, , calls Summer People a book for "long, sunny afternoons, accompanied by a glass or two of local wine"; thus, the reader is enticed into a world of pleasure.
The beginning of the novel is so fact-filled that the reader is immediately gratified as he or she meets the principal players. The writing doubles the accessibility of the narration. It is conventional in its use of realistic props as it describes and transcribes the ways people speak and think. There is nothing here that unsettles or challenges the reader; nothing that makes the reader consider the place of language or the style of writing. This novel, and the hundreds like it published each year, testify to the persistent allegiance to subject matter in order to minimize resistance on the part of readers.
The second example, from Carver's collection Cathedral New York: Knopf, , is totally unlike the above model. The visibility of the writing a characteristic usually associated with poetry directs the reader toward a sophisticated discordance with traditional fictional purposes—to assure an easy passage from topic to reader's reception. The care accorded to language, rhythm, structure, syntax, and silence all amount to a passion for writing akin to that of French writers. The translations of Carver's stories and the critical acclaim accorded to his work in France attest to a correspondence between his sensibility and the one I have been defining.
Here too, as in Marge Piercy's work, oral qualities are present. In Piercy's novel they constitute a mimetic exercise; in Carver's story they form a strategy to lull the reader into recognizing his or her own universe, or at least one possible universe, resembling a Sam Shepard play. However weird, "Feathers" defines an "American way of life," just as Edward Hopper's paintings have done. Perhaps the topical analyses of Hopper's work facilitate a certain critical refusal to enter into the coded world of both psychological motivation and scriptural insistence.
In addition to lyricism, narration, formalism, voice, and the body, an important element of the new poetics in France is the influence of American poetry, in which the above elements are to some degree objectified. This influence does not exclude other foreign influences, of course, but for French avant-garde poets, the American model has been privileged ever since the sixties. Translation is an odd practice, as many theoreticians have demonstrated, from Saint Jerome to Walter Benjamin.
One particularity is of special interest here: Why have certain American poets received acclaim in France, while others, though translated, remain marginal? Why, specifically, have Ezra Pound and the Objectivists, and in more recent times the Language Poets including Charles Bernstein, who translated one of Claude Royet-Journoud's books of poetry into English , become. Why have these poets been invited to French poetry festivals? Why, at another moment, were the Beats so appreciated? In the first place one might cite the distinctiveness of American poetry and prose beginning in the late fifties.
What was happening in American literature and in the theater as well bore almost no resemblance to the French concerns of the Tel Quel years. The attraction of opposites can also be seen in the other direction: Americans discovered the nouveau roman through publishers such as Grove Press and George Braziller and the Evergreen Review. From the postwar years on, and especially in the more prosperous sixties and seventies, cultural exchanges between France and the U.
These connections were marked by invitations to poetry festivals, public readings, and publications of contemporary American poetry in French anthologies representing an avant-garde view of current American poetic production. Its charm was its espousal of an absolutely antithetical poetics. Jacques Roubaud, then one of the keenest readers of American poetry, is quick to admit that he found it so attractive precisely because of its "otherness.
Nothing quite like it had ever been written in France, where at that time any sign of romanticism in the realm of letters was rejected wholesale. The American model which went beyond poetry, encompassing Raymond Chandler's novels and Jerry Lewis's films, as well as those two ubiquitous American viruses, blue jeans and T-shirts appeared as a dialectical Other, one that perhaps even proved the value of the French attitude in contrast to American practices, or more specifically to the American poet's lyrical presence in his or her text.
Levertov—were shaped by an often barely veiled autobiographical enterprise and characterized by common speech, a form generally alien to French poetry. Ever since the translations of some of the Cantos , by Denis Roche in ,  that poet became a literary fetish, but—as always in such cases—of an ambivalent kind. Was this ambivalence in part because Pound had failed to gain admission not only to mainstream American poetry but also to American intellectual life and that, of course, before World War II? Together with his poetics, his fascist, anti-Semitic politics assuredly contributed to his later, quasi-definitive exclusion.
That bit of pro—antiAmericanism cannot in itself account for his reception in France. As a result of this ambivalent status which was also the case for Louis Zukofsky , there was one Pound who could easily be assimilated to French avant-garde poetics and another who had to remain outside it. In the first instance, it is clear that Pound, as the paradigmatic figure of modernism, reassures the avant-garde reader and poet who can appreciate both the new forms developed in the Cantos and the traditional allusions to historical, literary, and mythological sources.
When Pound exclaimed that to translate, one had to "Make It New," he might not have been alluding only to that specific literary enterprise. This enticing formula could also define his own contribution—the way he worked, the way he conceived of his own poetics. The use of typography in the Cantos , the inclusion of foreign languages, and the mixing of linguistic registers, complete with colloquialisms and accented speech to mock.
Pound's Jewish friend, the French medievalist Gustave Cohen —all these elements could "pass" into the French order of cultural artifacts. In the second instance, there is the "invisible" side to Pound's poetics. Whereas the signifier found a ready avant-garde public, the signified could not, in Pound's lifelong project to rewrite a Homeric epic in which, as he so succinctly stated, History would converge with personal experience. In the sixties, when French poetics had renounced this postromantic historical posture—as it had with equal vigor rejected the accompanying lyrical voice, one able to carry the autobiographical concern—it was impossible to subscribe to Pound's whole project.
He was thus at once present and absent: French translations of Louis Zukofsky's poetry further illustrate this absence. Much like his better-known friend and compatriot, Zukofsky has in recent years gained a small but impressive following in French avant-garde circles. These readers see in the American Objectivist's poetics a model that preceded yet paralleled their own concerns. What, then, filters in to French?
Quite evidently the rejection ot the sentimental, lyrical voice, and Zukofsky's metadiscourse, which informs his project and provides it with a theoretical justification—the intellectual analogy to Bach's fugues, especially the St. This formalism is clear in Zukofsky's treatment of language and placement of lines on the page. His principles of verbal condensation, his retextualization of borrowed material, and his montage techniques, as well as his musical sonorities and use of punctuation and capitalization, all attest to his centrality in the world of French avant-garde poetics.
It is also worth noting that his espousal of Marxism like Aragon's, from Marx through Stalin represents a perfectly recognizable legacy. Finally, his reworking of classical rhetoric is the most readily acceptable lesson. But something else remains outside the cultural option, remains, so to speak, in the shadow of Zukofsky's legend and defies translation.
The rich vein of the spoken register in " A " is both a highly distinctive trait and a major stumbling block in assuring a commensurate restructuring of the American text within French poetic language. We find base or "obscene" sexual terms in Joseph Guglielmi's poetry, as in Joyce Mansour's surrealist poetry, but avant-garde poetics in France has no place for the inscription of a spoken text.
There is no room for the newspaper editor's diction in " A "-1 or for Henry Ford's voice in " A " For the sake of poetic language, then, Zukofsky's commitment to a multiple linguistic experience is brushed aside. The French unisemic code washes away what it considers impertinent information, unreadable material, renegotiating vulgarity within an acceptable aesthetic medium. The frenchification of Zukofsky's poetry forcefully reduces the impact of his poetics in France, or at the very least demonstrates the principles of cultural refraction noted above.
A second difficulty appears on the conceptual level. What does not pass are three essential elements of " A ": The body, the voice, narration however elliptic , forms of lyricism—all point the way toward incorporating Zukofsky's multilayered autobiographical commentary into a possible French appreciation. And yet, both the epic poem as a genre and the historicization of the text remain as stumbling blocks.
The grandiose cannot be entertained when the everyday is flaunted. Furthermore, while Zukofsky has found favor among readers opposed to a surrealist, metaphor-laden poetics, they have failed, as far as I have been able to make out, to read his Jewishness into the text; thus, his translation and adaptation of Solomon Bloomgarden's Yiddish poems within " A " have gone unobserved.
The lesson is clear. When Zukofsky or George Oppen, for that matter is translated, he serves a dual function: Although Zukofsky is a glorious absence in booklength studies, his American adepts are prominent in French poetry festivals, translation workshops, and anthologies. Reciprocally, though with less financial support, French poets have also been invited to the United States. Contacts are now better than ever between New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and various American universities and their corresponding organizations in Paris, Royaumont, and Marseille. Increasingly, cultural exchanges encourage poets and writers to participate in joint activities, including collective translations, thereby enriching the literary scene on both sides of the Atlantic.
This cosmopolitanism is indicative of a new configuration in the world of letters: Rich in variants, its multiple productions nonetheless all honor that contract between author, text, and reader that is founded on reality, textuality, and readability.
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The numerous translation projects on both sides of the Atlantic attest to this trend, which is essentially a shift toward recuperating meaning by exploiting themes taken from daily experience or from dramatic events, a communion of interests that envisages a telling compatibility between French and American poetry and poetics. It is quite obvious, however, that the poets and writers who define contemporary French avant-garde writing do not fit into a popular mold.
Though some may be amused by comic strips, television programs, newspaper headlines, or by reality itself, all these signs suffer from formal constraints. Today, writing may no longer imply hermetic forms, the nontranslatability of arcane deconstructive montages, or even the rejection of meaning in its conventional sense, but it still centers on a questioning of the processes of writing itself that has set the terms of the relation between theory and literary production for the past thirty years.
Rather than focus on discontinuities, in conclusion, I would like to borrow Derrida's concept that that which is has always been. Yet throughout, the stability of poetry and prose is apparent, reminding us of Apollinaire's insistence in La Jolie Rousse on a dual allegiance within the avant-garde, both to tradition and to innovation. Thus, no contemporary French poetics can deny its antecedents, which go back to the troubadours, when formalism was at its height. Nor can its most recent antecedents be banished, which accounts for the ambivalent relation that today's poetics maintains with its immediate past—what I have characterized as the Tel Quel perspective, with its radical theoretical interference within the creative work.
The days of those "excesses" may be gone, but no avant-. Michel Deguy was born in Paris in His publications include books of poetry: Fragment du cadastre Paris: Selected Poems of Michel Deguy. University of California Press, In Violence of the White Page: Special issue of Tyuonyi , no. I often think of you as perhaps one of the greatest travelers in the world of letters! You have carried off something quite unique in maintaining that energy which is yours, whether you're writing poetry, literary criticism, or philosophic essays.
Could you talk about this continuing interest in translation, and perhaps in so doing connect it to your other activities? First of all, it corresponds to a personal history and so requires a bit of autobiography—but only as relevant to the matter at hand! In my background, in my Bildung , philosophy, poetry, and translation clearly coexist as a triad without any order.
Toward a New Poetics
What I mean is that there wasn't philosophy and poetry and, in parentheses, translation. This may appear slightly disconcerting, but for me, translation was not a more-or-less transparent middle position, a "go-between" [said in English], but was itself on a par with poetry and philosophy. In my past experience, philosophy consisted in a translational reading of German philosophy; poetry itself moved in translation toward philosophy while held within a linguistic relationship, that is to say, within literary works, making it simultaneously simple and difficult.
Translation was there, on the same level, equally important. It was never in an ancillary position. Thus it assumed the strange status of an intermediary or a middle ground that is as much one of the terms of the relation as the relation itself. Perhaps, to take this notion further, it would be interesting to find out to what extent each of those terms is also the name of the relation between the two others—with philosophy playing the middle role between translation and poetry, and poetry between philosophy and translation.
I think that's where my interest comes from! Of course for us, when we were young, Latin and Greek were the languages that projected us into other languages; so translation was the experience of Greek and Latin, languages we call dead—and we should perhaps reconsider this label: That is where my experiences began, and then came Ger-.
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Thus, I'd have to point to some sort of archaeological relationship with "dead" languages. Could translation be another way of naming Greek and Latin? And here, unfortunately, I cannot add an et cetera , though I should note that in earlier years it might have been easier than I thought to enter into another language, especially a related language.
I was seventeen when I first went to Spain. At that time I said I couldn't understand a thing, yet ten or twenty years later I read a Spanishlanguage newspaper without, obviously, having learned the language. At bottom there is a sort of familiarity with foreign languages, as long as they belong to the same family. That knowledge can function without any academic preparation.
So much for my own story! Now, as for the magazine, I can only say that at its source lies a relation between language and literature. Languages exist for writers only insofar as there are literary works in them—a literature within literary languages, let's say—and that can only come about when a language is able to welcome great literary works from other languages.
Let us take an easy example and I know some would not agree with me, but they're not here!
Because, by my criterion, Breton is not a language. Well, it's a fact: Breton never welcomed a translation of Goethe, for instance, or Dante. A language-literature that has the capacity of receiving masterpieces of other languages is of one texture. It all goes together. It was in this light that the project for the magazine was sketched out. Translation, therefore, is not an accident. It is, as you have said, the energy that emanates from the continued relation among languages, among great languages, through this obligation of receiving one another's literary works, past and present.
And what does it mean? It implies, especially at this moment, that is, at the decline of the twentieth century. I think a lot of writers feel this way, that all great languages are in a state of dangerous simplification.
A certain menace is weighing on languages: What has happened to the sentence? What happens to the sentence when it becomes the little politicians' sentence or the screen sentence on computer terminals? What has happened to the sentence in all languages? Thus, something one might call conservation and defense has arisen. Of course, that's not the only concern, either of the magazine or of concerned writers. We are not merely conservationists in a conservatory, but I believe there is that aspect of a very deep commitment to conservation, or, if you will, of memorization, of rememorization.
To confront a menace that is an attitude. This commitment is not, I should emphasize, reactionary, or even reactive; it is meant to protect—in a word, to shelter, as Heidegger would say. To maintain the language in its literary works: But I should be a bit more modest: We're open, but in fact in most cases, our texts are the roses of the languages of Paris, whose stems are those of our neighbors. You yourself have authored a work entitled Tombeau de du Bellay. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in your desire to emphasize the place of translation, both in your own thought and in the identity of the magazine, is there an ambition, similar to du Bellay's, of ornamenting the French language through the practice of translation?
That is, of not only making French readers discover or rediscover texts of the Renaissance but also, through translation, proposing poems that, because of their difficulty, are examples of the densification of language and contrib-. Translation there by becomes a means of perfecting the tools of language. In listening to you, it occurred to me that the defense we're talking about has nothing to do with the sixteenth century, as we shall see, since in that day the concept of defense was really a question of transforming the vernacular into a great language through the practice of imitation—paraphrasing du Bellay's "double bind" [said in English], he might have said: In order to imitate, I do not imitate; I do as the great authors of the past have done, and thus I stop imitating the greatest authors.
Defense, today, has become more complicated! But what might be the most troubling and important topic is the "perfecting" that you have just mentioned. In fact, do we want to say that a language such as French, one of the ten languages that has produced masterpieces, has not achieved its perfection? Surely it has, since so many great works have been written in it and so many great works from other languages translated into it. One might then ask what the meaning of perfection is. Let me try to find an example. What strikes me is this: Some literary critics complain of the lexical or terminological wealth of a given writer.
It is quite simple to accuse a literary person, for in France, literary is a pejorative term: Yes, it's too rhetorical to use rare and erudite words, but at the same time they fail to consider that nothing is as neologistic as socalled common journalistic language. What we're supposed to do today, with the greatest of ease, is invent signs, not words. Journalistic language is in ferment. We are in a state of fermented, corrupted lexicalization. But at the same time critics call attention to the fact that a writer uses such and such an old word, or uses a neologism in his poem in a rather erudite fashion, and this they condemn.
In the end, everything is a struggle! I don't know, but there should be an attitude of vigilance against signmaking, the dangerous semiotization of language, as well as against language inventions founded on old forms—neologisms as they have always been practiced. In the final analysis, if a language is "great," if it is a living language and thus does not merely duplicate the image of a dead language , isn't it always characterized by this particular dialectic—by the efforts of some to assimilate new terms or ideas and make of them new expressions and, simultaneously, the efforts of others to criticize such practices, bent on continuing their task of refining the language?
If what you say is true, this condition might be seen as a very good sign, not as a moment of crisis! Even if the writer-critic Etiemble has gone on the warpath against the Americanization of the French language, the language has always been enriched by this process of assimilation! That's true, but it's a question of reterritorialization, of reappropriating a foreign element that enters into the language. Here is an example: Conservation and literary invention would then imply an effort to reaffirm syntax, to play in its favor, to encourage syntactical complexity and obstacles.
This is hardly a form of purism, of academic interest, because spoken speech, in the past—I think we must add that—was heavily syntaxed. Thus it's not a question of "correct" versus "incorrect" syntax, but of the use of certain locutions, such as "des fois que. What I mean is that one must fight for syntax within the spirit of the language in its popular state, and against a way of speaking that may be taking the upper hand and which, though some might call it "popular," is in fact not within the spirit of the popular medium.
Thus the conservation of language would be joined with another motive, that of re-. Could you talk about the writing of poetry in France today? With everything you've just said, could one now characterize the way French poets react to language, without necessarily going into names or schools? How does this concept of reterritorialization affect contemporary writing?
A current direction that is much bruited about goes something like this. I don't know whether there is a return to narrative; if there is, I don't know whether it has a future, because I don't believe that poetry can continue through a narrative direction. That doesn't mean theme—a thematic, a something about which one writes and thinks—is excluded, but I don't believe that narration—the telling of a story—on the poetic level, with names of people, or in the lyrical mode or the elegiac I mode, can be done today.
But in any case, it's in the wind. I believe something has occurred: There was a movement that consisted in exterminating, in systematically excluding the thematic, the narrative, even. In the end, how does one recognize a poetic text? What kind of pleasure will there be in reading a poetic work? What will one find under the rubric of poetry that cannot be found elsewhere, whether this "elsewhere" is fiction or the literary pages of anthropology when, all of a sudden, an anthropologist speaks to us about death and desire?
We must be very cautious here. The poem, as a form of linguistic acrobatics, must take shelter, even if by ruse, under something recognizable—a story, or something to do with action in time, something that has a narrative element to it. But I take that to be a pretext and an alibi. The poem might present itself as something "hanging," like a shirt on a clothesline; the narrative thread would then be this clothesline on which, attached by clothespins, lots of things would be hanging.
I follow the line and find the poem, the surface, and then I go back to the line and pass to the next poem. Perhaps in that sense there must be a line, a return to rhetoric. After all, that is one of the ruses, a savoir faire , to make the poem readable again, to allow readers to listen once again to the French language. I don't know if that is indeed happening, but if it is, it's useful. As for a panorama of contemporary poetry, that's a more difficult question. Let me break in for a minute. Do you see, as a poet and as a professor of French literature, a particular mode of French poetic writing?
When you talk or write about it, do you see something that has eliminated other possible poetic forms—as happened, for instance, with those historical poems of Alfred de Vigny's, after they gave way to Baudelaire? Do you think that French poetry today, and as it has been practiced through the mid-eighties, has somehow sealed its identity in relation to fiction? But the seal is complicated since, at the heart of it, the distinction between prose and verse was explicitly refused—or if not refused, at least forced to vanish.
In that sense, listening to the dance of language, its. Thus it's very difficult to isolate one as against the other. That said, there is something very simple concerning the situation today: No more satirical poems, no more political ones. The last grouping of poets as a school went under the label of surrealism, and that poetry, written by us, written by all of us as Ducasse wrote , has also disappeared.
In lieu of genres we have poetical works: There is Char, Saint-John Perse. I've mentioned only the complete works of a poet and, in some cases, poems written by poets now dead. Would we say the same today? I don't know if we'll be able to continue this particular series. That's what troubles me. But this series has a subseries. There are generations, and while I don't want to compile an impossible anthology of poetry, there are poems by Char, du Bouchet, Dupin; and following them there will be, not to say imitators, but poets whose sensitivity will express itself in similar registers, compatible with previous ones.
But then there will only be poetry if there is a great work written by a poet, by one of them, by someone. In the second half of this century, that is how poetry occurs. This is rather worrisome. Should there no longer be a will on the part of the poet to write a great poetic oeuvre, there might no longer be any poetry in the language—I'm not saying forever, but for a long. In other words, what would be the conditions for a great poetic oeuvre? As far as I'm concerned, there's one that seems important: I would readily say that the poet is someone who, in some sense, must explain himself.
Take the most recent example: Whatever was written down during the poet's lifetime in forms other than poetry is there: There's a poetic oeuvre insofar as there is an "accompanying explanation," a multiple discourse to go along with it. That is unquestionably a powerful reason to include nonpoetic works in a complete edition. I might also formulate it in another way, using another theorem: Poetry is not alone. What counts are the relations it has with itself, and as a result of which it is.
In relation to these confrontations, rivalries, jealousies, and comparisons that it has, for instance, with music, with philosophy, with painting. That is, everything that was once called ut pictura poesis, ut musica poesis. Thus, the arts form a circle, a dance of the arts, which, fundamentally, one could see as the dance of the muses. One shouldn't lose sight of that. One should hold out one's hand to music and say: What does philosophy do in its own way?
Perhaps here I shall try to elaborate. If there is a proximity between philosophy and poetry, each vast and enigmatic, each a realm of experience and work, it is perhaps because in its tissue, in its texture, in its linguistic material, philosophy is poetic. The rigor of its thought is such that it is in fact none other than a rhetorical rigor, a tropological or figured one. The question of figures or tropes; the. Many have asserted this, including Jacques Derrida: But indeed there is—and let's call it language!
You've just answered my question when you spoke of the constituent parts of an oeuvre. Clearly your parapoetic works figure in that definition, as well as your poetic works. But in listening to you, I was also made aware of the importance you attribute to pleasure, the pleasure we find as readers, going from shirt to shirt on that clothesline! The autonomy of language, brilliantly suggestive, fulfills numerous functions, one of which, for me at least, is pleasure.
We are not engaged in the fabrication of a purely hermetic text, but one also influenced, from beginning to end, by that trinity you defined; and yet translation may be the code that allows an uninterrupted reading of your work. There we find translations, that is, movements in space, as well as on a metaphorical level. This leads to my next question. The oral quality, the spoken, plays a central role in American poetics. Unquestionably, that is not the only tendency—there is also a language influence at play among certain American poets—but from Walt Whitman to Allen Ginsberg, the factor of enunciation has been one of the bridges permitting the reader to accede to an undeniable pleasure.
Is there, in France, a reinterpretation not only of the lyrical, of that narrative you have described, but also of an oral inscription? Belin, , 13— Or, put another way, is Heidegger's influence still predominant in contemporary French poetry? There I can't agree, for in a certain sense, there's nothing more vocal than a page taken from Heidegger! One might even imagine a public reading of many of his pages. This runs in the direction of orality, this vocality of language. But wait a moment.
I believe there is a radical, inseparable vocalization of poetry, since it is a linguistic manifestation I'll explain that in a minute , but on the other hand, when this vocalization or oralization becomes a performance, a certain staging of the gestural—I find that more questionable. The poem is deeply bound with a decision of quantity, space, time, accents—that is, a decision founded on diction. The poem's diction constitutes the poem's poetics. That is a constitutive part of the poem's poetics. But the oral, the vocal—that's in the poem of language; there's no doubt in my mind.
I never shared the caricatural view that poetry was not made to be said, to be read out loud, to be heard. I don't believe that. And I have never believed it, but on the other hand, I'm not so sure that the festival moment, the regulated, preconceived moment of a vociferal act, itself operating within the field of a whole complex of technological apparatus—for isn't it a question, essentially, of a series of relays: I do believe that my own poems are meant to be heard.
How then would you define the relation between poetic diction, performance, and sound conditions in your own work? What bothers me when I give readings are the technical conditions involved, the possible staging of an "act. But that doesn't stop me for one minute from believing that the diction of a poem makes up the poem. If there is a considerable. But the song is the place where we are trying to find poetry, and I have nothing against popular music.
Language is also meant to be composed like a song, and it's by that route that the young will rediscover poetry, and in particular, assonance and rhyme, paronomasia, humor, story line, and satire. Popular songs have taken that up for themselves. And it's said there are many good songwriters and singers! Music is there too, as an accompaniment, as it was in the time of the troubadours and also in the time of the ancient Greeks.
It has always been there. Such a tradition might also be a way of finding out where poetry might end up if it allows everything that belongs to it to be taken away, including a large public. You have been translated in the U. What are the connections to that Other, in a way, whose name also happens to be Michel Deguy?
Sometimes, on certain pages, in certain stanzas, I say to myself, "That's very good; I'm sure it makes a poem in English. It really doesn't make one think or sing in English. Poetry, allowed to make her claims cultural , prefers to sneak away, vanish into nature—But nature has disappeared. Where is she going? You can hear her in language when her door is left swinging; a door must open and close. The tongue itself as porter of language: Where does she come from? By divagations she storms her way, sketches out her licentious regime, hollows out her bed so as not to sleep in it.
There isn't any "and so forth" to the I-saw-myself-seeing-myself of Monsieur Teste. The regime of intersubjectivity is open and spaciously circumscribed by Socrates; the exchange is completed when, and if, I know that you know that I know-I-don't-know-anything. You will know when you know that I know that you know that I know that I know nothing. On l'entend dans la langue quand sa porte bat; il faut qu'une porte s'ouvre et se ferme.
Tu sauras, quand tu sauras que je sais que tu sais que je sais que je ne sais rien. Joseph Guglielmi was born in in Marseille. Among his many books of poetry are Aube Paris: Seuil, , Pour commencer Paris: Flammarion, , Fins de vers Paris: He has written two works of criticism: Le Collet de buffle, and La Ressemblance impossible: Ends of Lines , extract. Translated by Michael Palmer and Norma Cole. Le Mouvement de la mort , extracts. Translated by Norma Cole. Hot Bird MFG 2, no. I've always been struck by the energy that arises from your work, which is rather rare in contemporary French poetry.
Were I to generalize, I might even say that you are a unique phenomenon in French poetry since, judging from the texts of yours that I've read and the opportunities I've had to hear you read in public, the nature of your voice sustains the decision in your poetry to exist as an electrifying experience. That compliment, my friend, goes right to my heart! I don't think energy is the result of a particular decision; it's rather like an electric current that either passes through or doesn't. But I would still have to say that language itself, in its natural state, already contains an energy charge.
Between words, in order for them to make sense, in order for meaning to occur, there must be some sort of energy; without it, there's no poetry, there's no language. As you know, since you're a reader of American poetry, at least in a certain kind of American poetry the oral aspect is preponderant.
There is a "performance" factor, an insistence on the polish of the delivery, a concern for public reception of works read out loud to an audience. I believe this sort of practice carries over into the content of the work itself since, consciously or unconsciously, the poet begins to "hear" his or her poetry, an experience which then, at least in part, dictates the nature of his or her poetry and constitutes a sort of updated Whitmanesque poetics, as opposed to both a Wallace Stevens strand and what is referred to as "academic" poetry in the U.
Would you talk about the place of that vocal quality in your work? At least two stages have got to be taken into account in answering your question. The first one is the writing, and perhaps in that first stage there is already a foreshadowing of orality. For example, in my Fins de vers , I tried to write using an eight-foot line, a rhythmic eightfooter, not rhymed, of course!
And when I read it out loud I try to discover this rhythm in the writing, and I find it and at the same time transform it, increasing its tension so as to underline the scansion. When I scan the lines, I try to give them maximum energy as you've noted , an expressive energy. I'm not adding meaning but expression, to make the reading more "brawny"!
That way, the line communicates to the listener through a tension, a scansion. What does their presence correspond to? Retrouvez ici tous les accessoires de protection pour les voiliers ou bateaux moteur: Tous nos articles de timonerie: Tous nos accessoires de pont: En cliquant sur "valider", vous acceptez de recevoir la newsletter de isonautique.
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