Monday, March 28, 2022

Isabelle Garron, BODY WAS: Suites & their variations (2006-2009), trans. Eléna Rivera


I don’t have words
but your gestures

amid the ads

chasms of each sta
tion the voice—

also in the announcement
made about a delay

. train ahead

Described by Cole Swensen in her cover blurb as a “massive work of tantalizing minimalism” is Parisian poet, critic, editor and associate professor Isabelle Garron’s latest work in English translation, BODY WAS: Suites & their variations (2006-2009), translated by Eléna Rivera (Brooklyn NY: Litmus Press, 2021), following Garron’s collections Corps fut (Flammarion, 2011), Qu’il Faille (Flammarion, 2007) and Face event contre (2002), translated by Sarah Riggs as Face Before Against (Litmus Press, 2008). Produced as an expansive work, the nearly three hundred pages of BODY WAS is a book-length sequence of small moments, gestures and expressions stretched to incredible lengths; stretched not as a way of thinning, but as a way to articulate and pause, each moment fragmented into portions, and where lightning strikes in such slow-motion that every spark appears, if in the briefest sense, self-contained: brilliant, held and heard. “then a shadow / on bodies,” she writes, early on in the collection, “bore / ours in count / er // form naked // in the full / moo // n black [.]” This is an incredible collection of short bursts, a lyric of a single, extended thread or tether, segmented into line and word breaks, offering small points of thought, image and sound. The collection begins with an overheard death, and moves across domestic patter, conversations on the daily immediate, of arrival and being, and someone waiting to be born. “we arrive     .it is night    .you will be born this morning [.]” The fragmented sense of line and lyric, as well as the unexpected placements of punctuation, force the reading to simultaneously suggest a rush, but also a slowness, to catch every element as it stands. Segmented into suites and variations, BODY WAS exists not as an accumulation, but as a singular whole, writing segments that articulate the slippery movement of time itself, both immediate and immediately past-tense. There are elements of this collection that read as a set of improvisations, comparable to works by Robert Creeley, William Carlos Williams or Fred Wah, yet composed in a loose narrative structure that would even allow a reader to pick up at any point. As Rivera writes to open her short afterword, “Points in Time: Where the Body Was”:

It takes a certain amount of courage in this age of the internet, where a plethora of words abound, to let the stillness and blank page speak. What I admire in Isabelle Garron’s Body Was is its combination of lyricism and silence, the rhythm of the language and the way that she is able to let events, the overheard and experienced, move in and out of silence, into the body of the page. What remains of experience is stored in the body and what is written is already what was—the moment is gone. Time keeps moving. What was experienced is no longer the present. The experience is carried in the body. The body makes the text.


No comments: