160 pp., offset, smyth-sewn
ISSN 0269-0179 "Serie d'Ecriture"
ISBN 1-886224-39-0 original paperback $18
Norma Cole has combed
through books, little magazines, and correspondence
to gather an exciting body of writing by our French contemporaries.
letters, poems, interviews, critical pieces, and texts that cannot
The authors include Anne-Marie Albiach, Jöe Bousquet, Danielle
Jean Daive, André Du Bouchet, Dominique Fourcade, Liliane Giraudon,
Emmanuel Hocquard, Claude Royet-Journoud, Jacques Roubaud, Agnès
The texts (whether excerpted or complete) were selected for their
writing and for the conversation they enter into by appearing together.
conversation that creates new contexts for each individual text, but
widens the perspective in which a great deal of writing imported from
for instance poésie blanche -- the writing of the "blank
page" -- can be read.
This conversation, rigorous and vigilant, addressing issues such as
and historical circumstances, and the relation of writing to other
(reading), has been taking place for some time. Here are some pieces
it, most of them appearing for the first time in English.
"Par ces rappels, je n'entends
rien prouver, mais seulement orienter l'attention."
--Maurice Blanchot, L'entretien infini
There are conversations embedded in these pages, a kind of cross-talk
time and space. Texts, interviews, critical pieces, journal entries,
worknotes and at least one simple list make visible and audible an
embodied voices in conversation, in the deliberate breaking open of
isolating single elements at one extremity, multiple folds, complex
architechtonics in the process of being constructed and deconstructed
other. Most of these pieces have been published in France in literary
as books or as parts of books, although at least one has been circulated
as a "report." One text, a guest becoming ghost, was revoked
when the author,
although pleased with the translation, decided his own text needed
completely rewritten. Some of the writing here will extend the available
of writers previously translated and now familiar to North American
a number of texts will introduce new work and new names.
Dialogic threads echo and reverberate through considerations of body
silence as both restraint and production of meaning, the neuter or
neutral as the
unassigned in relation to sociopolitical complexities of address,
the sentence of
syntax and precedent. Sets of references indicate points of orientation
question assumptions of assignment. Their generosity and hospitality
as is their rigor of investigation. Writing is action, the phenomenological
entering language, already a specific set of conditions within conditions.
and its silences are made up of specific concrete decisions. Circumstances
events (such as two world wars and the Algerian struggle for independence),
detail to detail, date to date, are not backdrop but determining facts
different focal lengths, from naming to silence, testing the orders
as well as of writing.
Here is a range of writing at varying stages of coming into being,
proposing a stance very different from the taxonomy of "text/paratext."
Beginnings, Edward Said asserts, "One of the critical distinctions
literature is the importance given by the writer to his own paratexts
that explore his working problems in making a text." The opposite
impulse is at
work here, for what is of interest is how the texts read together
inadvertently, addressing each other and writing beyond the limits
of this or
any single volume.
Norma Cole lives in San Francisco. her books of poems include Mars,
Contrafact, Desire and its Double, & The Vulgar Tongue.
Her translations of
French poets have appeared in many publications.