Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nicole Brossard

Nicole Brossard read last night at the Nickle Arts Museum at the University of Calgary to a full, attentive crowd. One thing that never fails to impress me about Brossard's reading is the intensity and pleasure of hearing her, how the text seems to weave such a confident air that one feels quite literally to be floating from one idea to the next. I'm always taken by surprise when the reading is over, it always seems, not too soon necessarily, not too abrupt, but surprising...an aspect one can attribute to what? The grace of the reading? How she moves from text to text with a soupcon of introductory notes...and voila. She is unfailingly uplifting, even when--as she did last night--she delves into the darkest aspects of humanity. "Give me a match..." a refrain that lilted through a poem translated by Caroline Crumpacker.

Brossard read from Yesterday at the Hotel Clarendon, the novel recently published by Coach House, and then a little French--the title eludes me. However, Robert Majzels and Erin Moure, translators of three books, were also on hand and the three of them read from Notebook of Roses and Civilization ending with all three of them reading in an incantatory style, the final poem, "Soft Link 3," which I offer an excerpt from here:
It's names of places, cities, climates that haunt. Characters. Clear mornings, a fine rain that falls all day, rare images from elsewhere and America, two natural disasters that make us close ranks amid corpses, it's quiet or violet acts, mortars, ice cubes in glasses at cocktail hour, noise of dishes or a slight stutter that momentarily torments, a slap, kiss, it's names of cities like Venice or Reading, Tongue and Pueblo...

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