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Erín Moure Three Poems

Spring Hay + Watch


I dreamed of peeing and woke up dry
Words of geese replaced geese in the air too
Their chests of perfect grey down
in the air
point where geese point, honking as they fly
one wing toward each ocean

In my mind waking up
Words of geese

Something about geese and air
When I move in air I displace air
Yes really
When geese move in air
air condenses inside their chests

That’s why they fly
That’s why I’m grounded

Odd patter of morning in my mind waking up
Old hay uncut by the fence posts
appear from snow later as bent blades
in spring

(the design of the room)
(the exile of populations following upon war)
(cuneiform record in old Sumerian)


Beauty = Kant

Sublime = Longinus

Voice, timbre = space, light

The radicality of forms in forms, forms through forms, the radicality
of just
using a form

“Lost her mother’s watch”

Spivak: “it is the failure of the sublime”

So I looked for women who had made and were formed by migration, and who were in some way marked “questionably” by the socius, and I examined what I could of the form and shape of those migrations….

Two Centuries and a Lifetime,
In Case You Were Wondering


In my neck of the woods,
we are famished.

Your fantastic tales
we can live without,
you with

that Person
moulded around you,
in the 21st century

finally, she is able
to breathe…


Propped on pillows
Listening to voices outside
and watching
late northern sun

cast beam or shadow

In the 20th century
a gift meant to satisfy
or distract from
did not

an empty jewel box,
ballerina on top,
wound up
spins to a little

tinnisch song.


Being hopelessly in love
I can testify
is one of the best parts

of a human lifetime
thinking her eyes and fingers
every moment

that kind of hopeless
hoping she’ll call…

You’d pick up a telephone receiver
and already in the inner lining
of the ribs
touching a membrane around the lungs
touching the caul of the heart,

your own organ…
Why is it this marvellous?

And where did the marvel recede to
but into trees, winds, grasses, other
marvellous things?

A Talk on Translating, Never Given

1. At that instant a sound forms in my throat and I am every animal.

2. I reside vowel.

3. Ou. That dipthong.

4. Where the line turns, ends and starts again, space-time opens generatively, generously.

5. I translate the generosity of a space-time opening dipthong how.

6. At that instant a form sounds in my throat and my hand writes a letter.

7. A letter resides vowel.

8. Ouro.

9. People waded into the streams with shallow assiette-bols for just that reason.

10. I dip my bowl-plate into the water.

11. The line begin

s. space-tome’s home or letter.

12. I get up or telephone Robert Majzels. He tells me a word he has already made. I get very excited at his word. Pace-stoma opens to the very letter.

13. It imbricates a vowel, which is the lung. I turn back. I take a racing start at it. The favourite shoe snaps.

14. I am a translator but you are the very letter.

s. tory’s home or fetter.

15. There is no amplitude for the amplitude of this word. The English word for this word means something wrong. The English word for this word is a distraction from the word. The English word for this word has no passionate intake. The word for the amplitude of this French word is about 6 words in English. There is only a very slang word for this word in English and we can’t suddenly change the level of diction here.

16. Brossard doesn’t use slang, so I would like to translate a whole Brossard poem into Canadian slang. Robert and I did this once, and oh did we laugh. Denotatively it was still a Brossard poem but not otherwise.

17. The amplitude of my word is injuring your word.

18. The hesitation here is not a lapse but provokes sentience. How to translate not for sense, but for sentience. How to translate a lapse or ellipsis. An ellipse in French can turn into a bent coat hanger in English.

19. How to make that sound in the throat provoke outcry.

20. Mellifluous. To translate we are not so.

21. We step into the River Styx. The soldiers stood dumbly there and would not cross because they knew the consequence. Palmiers are palm trees not palms. For where the syntax is in necessary dispute, the lexicon cannot lead astray unnecessarily in the translated text. Sometimes “under” and “beneath” are the same word in English and sometimes they are really not. Something that is under may not be beneath.

ss. will rest (resist) now.
I have to resist notions of translation at any moment for the moment they crystalize as notions they don’t serve me.

Don’t serve me what? On time?

Erín Moure's latest is The Elements (Anansi 2019). Spring 2020, two new translations: a sequence from Argentinian poet Juan Gelman’s “translations” of John Wendell, Sleepless Nights Under Capitalism (Eulalia Books) and, from the Galician of Uxío Novoneyra, The Uplands, Book of the Courel (Veliz Books). Next up: a translation of Chantal Neveu’s This Radiant Life (Book*hug) and Toots fait la Shiva, avenue Minto (Noroît, tr. Colette St-Hilaire from Sitting Shiva on Minto Avenue, by Toots (New Star 2017).
This issue was guest-edited by Rachel Blau DuPlessis.
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