Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New & Confused

Landing back in the literary landscape of the mind takes some time, but things have continued to filter to me, and from me to the world, even while I have been either mentally or physically away.

Some of the projects that have arrived to delight me these past weeks and 2 months in Paris are:

I) NEW LIT REVIEWS TO READ exciting recent issues of reviews with tons of work by authors I knew or have discovered in The Denver Quarterly, Cutbank Review out of Montana and, in French, fresh from Marseille, issues of the Cahiers de Refuge.

II) BOOKS by OTHERS! What pleasure to have new books arrive, such as

***I just received the beautiful translation of Marie Etienne's work by Marilyn Hacker just out in a gorgeous (I kid you not! GORGEOUS) hardback edition from Farrar Straus & Giroux: King of a Hundred Horsemen. I imagine that Marie Etienne is psyched to have her first translations in English appear in book form with a publisher of such a long, respectible history of publication! But she, and Marilyn, in turn are doing a lot for FSG with this dual-language collection: a novel in verse. These narrative poems, numbered, sectioned by sorts of topics, are conversational and yet tightly written. They reveal what Marilyn rightly calls an "interpenetration of the quotidian and the foreign" "in a mosaic of shattered mirrors". I delight particularly in the voices, constantly shifting between what feels like a locatable "I" autobiographical speaker, and "personas" addressing moments, visions, and events the author herself could not have been privy to outside what she imagines, hears of, knows, feels has happened. The imagined and the personal become one in this delightfully intimate and yet historical collection.

***The new bilingual (French & English) collection written simultaneously in both languages by young American author Alexander Dickow, Caramboles, (Argol Editions, 2008) also arrived on my doorstep this past month! Playfully unstitching elements of both languages and their syntax, this was a fun book and author to discover. It promises greater explorations while introducing me to a first collection which is formally & linguistically provocative. I look forward to hearing him read for the first time later this year!

***TRI / VIA (Erudite Fangs/PUB LUSH Press, 2003, pictured at left) by Michelle Naka Pierce and Veronica Corpuz. No, not a new publication, but new to my household! I received this gift among a series of other great books (Bhanu Kapil's Incubation: A space for Monsters from Leon Works Press and Kass Fleisher's The Adventurous from Factory School) from Laura Mullen. Could anyone hope for a better "welcome back home gift basket"? These are what I found when returning from Santiago de Compostelle, and TRI/VIA has provided me an entry back into my own writing of late--the fantastic open-endedness of the letter form, the communicative reaching out to other that it instills, especially when it is being practiced by two so skilled authors as Michelle Naka Pierce and Veronica Corpuz. But I also admire the way these poems interweave mathematical language with that of emotional longing and daily life. A fabulous exploration of form and dialogue! Don't take my word for it, go read it, or read the fab short review of it by Jeremy Biles online at EPR.

FINALLY: a little self promotion, or rather, promotion of others who have helped my own works of various sorts get into the world of late!!! Yes, my translations are starting to hit the streets, and so I am happy to announce the following publications with them:

***My translations of Albane Gellé's poems (photo of author at left from came out in the most recent issue of CONDUIT magazine, edited by William D Waltz. To order your very own copy of the Last Laugh issue, "black humor in deadpan alley" go directly to their site at I was particularly excited to read my translations smack dab next to a poet I adore, Greg Bachar, out their composing away his sharp-as-tack prose poems in Seattle, WA. Why doesn't everyone whose work I love just move to Paris?--that is what I wonder!

***Translations that Barbara Beck, Rufo Quintavalle & I completed in June of Christophe Lamiot Enos poems are online at the new Centre 104 review, now at For those of you living in Paris, yes, this is a review linked to the new arts center that advertised, well, EVERYWHERE last month for its Oct opening--so packed they physically shut down the place. It is worth visiting to see photo shows, art installations, etc. Watch their sites for events and readings as well. An explanation of their review is at: I dig the photo here at the right by Pascal Dhennequin from le 104 under construction. I hope he'll forgive my putting it up on the blog, but it is a great pic!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kate Van Houten: Text and Image

Getting back into the "grind", and with great relish--Paris is full of book and art events, so many things I can't keep up with all I want to see and be part of. But I am also trying to engage differently in the world of art and writing this fall, and so would like to share two recent publications I have been part of where I am engaging in reading and image critically, or as interviewer.

First: KATE VAN HOUTEN. An artist that has been a long-time friend of mine, and whose varied work I admire and have often drawn inspiration from for my own poetry--for example the writing of Retina which later became one of Estepa Editions--kate's artist book press--books. When asked by Richard Nahem to write once-a-month texts on an artist living and working in Paris for his wonderful blog "EyePreferParis" I leapt on the opportunity and knew immediately that I wanted to begin with my close friend. For me, this was an opportunity to talk to her in depth about her work in a way I had not done before. I asked her a lot of questions about where her varied pieces came from, how she had grown as an artist, and in the process learned also about some places I might go visit in Paris that she loves. Please do check out the final product, with my photos of Kate alongside her fellow studio mate, Daphne Gamble. The post is from Oct 14th, 2008 on the blog EyePreferParis:

Secondly: TEARS IN THE FENCE. Octavio Paz, Czeslaw Milosz, Joseph Brodsky--all Nobel prize winners, all strong influences on me as I developped into a writer, especially their essays which reflected deeply on the international writing scene, traditions, patterns, even politics and language. How now to start my own journey of writing essays on poetics and poetry, essays in which I might ask myself (and others) questions about what feels an essential debate that has followed me since I was 18: the traditions of writing (poetry in particular), and experimentations. When David Caddy, of the UK magazine Tears in the Fence asked whether I would be interested in writing a regular column for his lit mag, I saw this was absolutely the opportunity I had been awaiting. To write about poetry in an international context, in particular in a country (the UK) which feels still to me stodgier in its poetic practices, and thus which will force me to take a closer and more honest look at what is happening in the UK while also allowing me to introduce to the British community some of my views and books I read that are published in the USA.

The first in my series, which I call "Of Tradition and Experiment" came out this summer in TITF number 48: "Of Tradition and Experiment I: Collaboration". I begin by talking about Collaborations throughout the 20th century and into this one, and I conclude my brief essay with a series of 13 mini reviews of books written as collaboration, from Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison's Braided Creek to Leslie Scalapino and Lyn Hejinian's Sight. Next up? "Of Tradition and Experiement II: Characters who kill--from Robert Browning to Laura Mullen"

For "Tears in the Fence" n°48, you can order a copy of the magazine or subscribe, or even submit some poems for a future issue by writing to David Caddy, the editor, at: 38 Hod View, Stourpaine, Nr. Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 8TN, England. You can also ask him to send you a subscription form or info via emailing him, but no submissions by email please: "David Caddy" <>. While you are checking out the magazine, you might also enjoy David's own blog, at: