Saturday, December 05, 2009

Two Books by Emmanuel Hocquard

Two people (Kathleen Peirce and Rosetta Ballew, to be exact) suggested the same thing to me at the same time, that I should read something by Hocquard. One must take such things as signs.

Now I’ve read the two books I could get hold of:

Theory of Tables (trans. Michael Palmer)1992 0-blek editions
A Test of Solitude (trans. Rosmarie Waldrop) 2000 Burning Deck

Here are a few poems to give you a bit of the flavor. The way he bends the lyric, the way he moves from fracture to the colloquial remind me very much of the work of his two translators (and then I see that he’s translated Palmer). Affinities abound.

from Theory of Tables


Brown, green & black

Don’t say the fragments of glass are the words
or are like the words of the poem

Dear B., forget the words
don’t count the years

Don’t think you’re holding in your hand
the pieces of the poem, time

Don’t write that color contains history

These pebbles don’t say Aegean Sea
on envelopes

These shards aren’t syllables
these envelopes don’t contain letters

Don’t dream that you suffocate each night


Who and what
who is he and who is she?

Evening Jo, put down the revolver
here’s your key
how did you find me?
yesterday this neighborhood still didn’t exist

The sky is full of glass
start a cypress fire with crates

Neither music nor dance
the wave is minus a domino
cry out the gulls

She says I wish I were a nasturtium or a peony

When the wave is minus a goat
cry out the gulls
a trail of stones and clouds flanks the puddles


You say I and you say
who does what?

Two statues have removed their coat

Why have those two verdigris brothers
so long dead
been invited to dinner?

You say things are always
orderly in photographs

You dream you are crossing a field of solid water

Detach two sheets of paper
you and another you
this road neither rises nor descends

Come in, welcome
go join those talking in the other room
pink light across the large curve

from A Test of Solitude

Book II.

Viviane or the secret list.
No sentence is any help.
The Wittgenstein list or by-path.
No sentence allows us to go from the canale to
the burnt stump, but a by-path.
Viviane is Viviane has found its place on the list
of secrets for me.
Or Theory of Secrets.
We said we named things to show what
separates them.
Phrasing shows how to reunite them.
A class photograph is not a sentence is this list
this story without beginning or end this snap-


Only uncertain propositions should be attributed.
One proper name per uncertainty.
What sense would it have to sign a tautology?
Viviane is Viviane signed Emmanuel Hocquard
would be really insane.
But it can also furnish information of the type
on the label there is written: “Gift of E.H. to
The black list of ravens arranged by increasing
or decreasing size in the cases of the Museum of
Natural History,
the cultivation of labels in the Botanical garden
in winter,
the list of errands and museums . . .


The fifth façade would
have the form of drained off.
The list of ponds how they communicate by
water or eyes.
Putting the pieces end to end
one would get neither a sentence.
Like the moles from one point to another
a list separates the canale from the burnt stump.
The list of obstacles
or list of names
of the permanent objects.
The unprogrammed spaces having devolved
on the dream,
put off doing something.


At 1/11/2010 5:32 PM, Blogger Justine el-Khazen said...

Hi there. I love your blog. I found it because I was searching Emmanuel Hocquard online. You are reading him too! You and no one else it would seem, as there isn't much about him out there, in English anyway. I am a graduate student in the writing program at UC Davis and reading your blog just now has helped me to contextualize so many contemporary poets I have heard of or meant to look up. Its wonderful. Thank you.

At 1/11/2010 5:40 PM, Blogger Justine el-Khazen said...

...I may as well ask. I was perusing the internet in search of non-English language poets I might like to include in an anthology I am compiling for school. I am always trying to find contemporaries in other languages. Any suggestions? Thanks.

At 1/11/2010 5:54 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

There are so many, and I'm quite under-read! A couple other recent Swedish poets:

Aase Berg
Lars Gustafsson

If you search "Action, Yes!" and "Action Books" you should find a lot of others. They have quite a selection.

Good luck!

At 1/11/2010 6:11 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Hocquard's French, however. The way I worded that made it sound like I was thinking he was Swedish.

At 3/07/2010 5:37 PM, Blogger Justine el-Khazen said...

Thank you so much for the Action link in especial.


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