Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hocquard "...our understanding / of citrus fruits..." & a FREE link to Brett DeFries' review

CutBank Literary Magazine has reviewed Cole Swensen and Rod Smith's translation of the 2003, The Invention of Glass (Canarium Press, 2012), by French poet and verbal handyman, Emmanuel Hocquard. I did not expect to take a fancy to Hocquard when I began reading, for reasons I might explain another day, and, also--on general principles. I don't mind keeping a closed mind, now and then, and thrill in being caught off guard when it is uneasily pried open, when the soggy sodden gray matter gives up spark and explosion and results not in my being seared but in my humbling. Arrogance is merely a process and an underrated one, at that.

It would be cheesy of me to write more about the recently published (8/23/12) review, except it's intelligent, without attitude, by Brett DeFries, and available HERE. The following excerpt from Hocquard, again, translated by Swenson and Smith, is shooting sparks out of the smouldering crater of my clamshell mind. I'm allergic to shellfish. Miracles, every day.

When one speaks
of water, subject and object
form in the phrases.
There is
an abyss. Poetry
does not speak of the world.
World is a word
that flaunts itself
in order to be. The middle road
is an odd place
and it would be wrong to take
the tepid for the wise.
Given that
a phrase is always clear
ctenaire by analogy: one no longer
wants to be defined. To say the spoken
is within the speaking is
to take the void’s measure.
Wanted or not
he contrives to spread doubt
across the land.
Adventure also carries
this risk. After the war
a child bit
into a glass. The parallel
escapes no one. It has
no exit.
I eat an orange.
For the record,
Robert S. W. Sikorski
(grandson of the general who gave
their name to the helicopters)
wrote that one-line poem
which is no small contribution
to our understanding
of citrus fruits. And so,
a series of decisive encounters
that makes vertigo
switch sides.
Emmanuel Hocquard. The Invention of Glass. Trans. Rod Smith and Cole Swensen. Ann Arbor: Canarium Books, 2012.


  1. Spark-shootin' ludic cerebration & sensual delights here. Thanks for a great posting. Crossing it over to word pond. xx, Donna

  2. Always an honor to be visited by you. And dipped into the pond.