By Peter Manson.
By Peter Manson.
I wish I could not echo
but it brings a thumb to my mouth
and a toy
speaking out of this infancy
as you know I am
split skin of a cocoon
By Stéphane Mallarmé, trans. Peter Manson.
Of Mademoiselle Mallarmé
Dreamer, that I might plunge
into pure unguided delight,
learn, by a subtfle lie,
how to guard my wing in your hand.
A twilight coolness
comes your way with each beat
whose captive stroke delicately
pushes back the horizon.
Vertigo! see space
shivering like a great kiss
that, mad to have been born for no-one,
can neither break free nor calm down.
Do you feel the untamed paradise
slip like a buried laugh
from the corner of your mouth
to the base of the unanimous fold?
The sceptre of rose-coloured shores
stagnant on golden evenings, this is it,
this white closed flight you pose against
the fire of a bracelet.
Peter Manson’s Mallarmé translations have just been published.
“The Poems in Verse is Peter Manson’s translation of the Poésies of Stéphane Mallarmé. Long overshadowed by Mallarmé’s theoretical writings and by his legendary visual poem “Un coup de Dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard,” the Poésies are lyrics of a uniquely prescient and generative modernity. Grounded in a scrupulous sounding of the complex ambiguities of the original poems, Manson’s English translations draw on the resources of the most innovative poetries of our own time — these may be the first translations really to trust the English language to bear the full weight of Mallarméan complexity. With The Poems in Verse, Mallarmé’s voice is at last brought back, with all its incisive strangeness, into the conversation it started a hundred and fifty years ago, called contemporary poetry.”
“Peter Manson’s versions of Mallarmé are inspired: inventive but true, they capture the originals’ intoxicating mix of mystery and compression, recreating in English not just Mallarmé’s famous suggestiveness, but the concentration and precision of his language which have all too often been
lost in translation.”
- Patrick McGuinness
“In his current Mallarmé project, Peter Manson restores a sense of poetic power & dis-ease often missing in other works of translation – a reminder too of Mallarmé’s central place among the poètes maudits of the later nineteenth century. The Mallarmé presented here is both true to its original & a major work for our own time as well.”
- Jerome Rothenberg
“Manson’s technique is to embroider pieces of real modern English onto a base text that broadly follows the shape, sounds and syntax of the original French verse. The poems that result retain the vagaries of their models while creating a persuasive illusion of living speech, almost as if the language were being distorted for the purposes of original expression, and not translation.”
- Jeremy Noel-Tod
Richard Price’s Painted, Spoken 21 feat. Amy Anderson, Tim Atkins, Isobel Dixon, Valerie Josephs, Francesca Lisette, Peter McCarey, James McGonigal, Peter Manson, Catherine Wagner. In PDF or nearly free hardcopy. Outta PM’s Sourdough (w/ post-riot untraceable handset margin loss):
to a fault
is as you
no one repairman
or -woman born
the hand set
Saturday, was it? Your one crept up upon American critic Keith Tuma, near to a street exhibit of squeaky squeaky musician marionettes fixed by wires to some impressively impassive invisible cranking / pedalling, leant well back giving it a siiiide-long stare, then there’s a very slight nod of approval & your man fishes for a coin.
No pic. Anyone got a pic? (At the corner, Mike Wallace-Hadrill with a Black Peter (“here’s one I made” BOOOM AAARGH) rollie or “secret agent,” oblivious to the puppetscape let alone the imputed discernment of its foot traffic natural constituency).
Keith praised the work as it “ventriloquized intelligence and wit.”
Rachel read, 11 Days & something else I can’t remember. Then Reitha. I was a replacement for Gerry, Gerry for Peter & Peter for me. Previously (see previously) a rumour rabbit ran panicked through the pews that Reitha wasn’t coming either. “Reitha? Nice to meet you.” “Yes! I think we’ve met.” That’s why poshos say, “How d’you do.” You can add “. . . that weird thing with your jaw blent on glitch?” or whatever, &, safe. Reitha read from Some Fables and something else. It was delicate, ultra-erudite, polysyllabic-symphonic stuff. From Some Fables:
No deluge: now the dove’s mouth
carries grass. The undersong of
the “economic cosmos” is heard in
the meadow where the herbicides
work swift harm for a margin like
inharmonic blue prairie fires. In
this one, sous get stone again, miser
bereft, the pain is phantasmal or
in the pocket, coffered in the grove
in locked land of external goodness
for: “who dothe enuy at the treasury?”
I read a series of crude shirk tactics. Redell and nick-e were mortified they’d both used tiny “me” puppets during their readings. I don’t really know how to take advice. “[C]ultivate the little apple / to counterweight the jewel” (James Cummins)? I think not knowing how to take advice is probably one of the silver linings of the UK’s critical constipation. The poo doesn’t come through so the silver collects as a residue. I can give advice yes.
& even though I may advise, “Adam & to some extent Mark, don’t try to fill up the time you’re allotted, then you’re less likely to go over,” and even though I may coax, “John, tell us less about the poems & read more of them, from over a longer period of time,” & even though I may guide, “Rachel, read just that fast, but try scattering some sections into little bursts, interspersed with pauses, so that the words wind up in people’s working memory can uncoil & start to crash into consciousness, just as you start up again,” & even though I may caution, “Keith, do whatever you did this time, but don’t do whatever you did that other time, and ditto Gerry, to a lesser extent, & also bring the SINE wave of the ‘commentaries,’ which sometimes definitely overlap the ‘poems’ & sometimes don’t, slightly closer so they overlap more often, though I know it’s too late; it would also help the poems if you lived on a boat,” & even though I may posit, “David, they were beautiful poems which I was more than happy to roll around in, like a cur in ivory tower turds, & then forget – & in that sense they are at odds with your prose & letters. All it would take are a few fewer adroit placings & a few more dense & confrontational maxims, of which you clearly produce ten before breakfast, to gloss them & they would pulse in me yet I bet,” & even though I may tremble, “Justin, read the whole glossary to Song City, sing Pringle with surtitles, which I can mock up if you like, & be calm, & unlike versified sports (cf. q.v.), at least once either before, during or after your reading,” & even though I may counsel, “Reitha, in case you’ve heard differently, the swaying around in the microphones no fly zone was fine – but tell me just a few things about the poems to get me started,” & though I may yet bell you, “Geoff, I hate the online Irish dictionary,” & though I may yet tell you, “Karen, I have no notes, though Steve, when you suggested I stop listening, I did for about three minutes – too much deferral?” & though sometimes I may instruct, “Sara, prepare a Powerpoint presentation, like in band camp. And respect the Irish people,” & furthermore coach, “Trevor, rewrite the words for performance, adjusting away from the wrought & towards the prosaic – otherwise everyone’s eyebeams (cf. Donne) get stuck on the actual signifier’s orthography replete with hazardous gouging serifs, & the things mentioned remain hazy apparitions,” & in the quiet of the evening though I may murmur, “Sam, get a second opinion on your poem glosses before you bust those pups out. Or skip the second & get a third. Learn to love the cur Jiggy: for she is like us,” & even though soon I may even determine, “Peter, drop the more rare words into your conversation in the days prior to your reading such that their context will automatically elucidate them. Do the menacing flashback you did to me to James, only without having spoken to him first,” & even though I know for certain, “Alice, stick around. Scott, a few funny voices never hurt nobody. & you could thereby differentiate the nicked stuff. Jimmy, wear a stetson. Fergal, read naked, on your belly, with Pepsi in your anatomical snuff box & peacock feathers stuffed up your anatomical vase. If you spill one drop, leave & never return. Randolph, calmly evaporate. Condense elsewhere, facing the other way. David Toms, let’s roll – read our poems no more! Laura, clip one toenail with each line. Treasure them in your palm, then the other. Feeder Mate, petite bisous? Thomas, attend every reading, thereby satisfying yourself of the festival’s music deficit. Then open your mouth as wide as you can and emit a deafening peal of bells. Sarah, go on so. Steve, Tess, do something about Vanessa Place. Mike, awake with the eye gunk web pinning you, stridgel, shower, shave, tux, suck-face for breakfast, all troop. Name me after a sweet gunmetal grey dolphin & laugh,” I don’t really know if I mean it; the advice – I kind of don’t care about it or for it, & I certainly don’t know what its wider implications are. Is it another category error, applying the general habits of a bespoke & pampered & entitled life to a corner where they doubly don’t belong? I think the space between preferences & what’s best is undertheorised, basically (NOTE).
Afternoon session. James Cummins read from his new booklet Origins of Process & from work-in-progress FLASH BANG, the latter a lot faster. It was a different fast from Rachel’s – not as fast, more semantically jagged & there were more rappy moments in it. There was a sing-along. For breakneck it was very lucid – clear, for instance, that “Lincoln was a line dancer.” The Origins sequence is pensive, some phenomenological stuff with words like “syntax” & “identity” shifting in & out of, & overlapping with (“The road as dark as the air in front of me”) glimpses of landscape (“leaving silt, revealing the road doubling back on itself”) & all kinds of linguistic detritus more-or-less welcome, though not too much of it, & kneaded in with ginger care. For some reason the lines I liked most were “one of us / still in jammies or in night dress” (maybe a stupid one, like the play of “jammies” & “Jimmy”). I wonder if he’s read my PhD on certain theological aspects of Tom Raworth’s Ace?
Justin Katko read mostly recent work, including “Rhyme Against the Internet,” “Wario Moped,” a “Song City” fragment with some glossage & he sang songs from The Death of Pringle, which when it was written was the first new poem for almost 200 years, & now is imminent from Veer. “Negatively ringing from the Adversary’s grip.” “Infidels, you showed up at your own funeral just to fuck us.” I talked myself into liking the hard-line line fragment. The text is partly withheld, as it might be with a very timid reader, but the opportunity cost of the text — what there might have been, if not the text — is different, in a way which might be crucial in understanding fragmented “texts” (whose sheared surfaces glow raw in sociological space) rather than fragmented “words on the page.”
We are brilliant in viscosity
At this oceanic depth,
Inlaid with differential moss
Accumulating in our breast.
Oh once we reach Aklavik,
And once we reach Lodi,
Oh once we reach Tilden,
And once we reach Covehithe –
I will dress you up in streamers
So to rend those colours flying,
To the smashing of our femurs,
Eaten, spent, and over-piling.
Eternal in Acroceraunia, we
Are melting through our fingertips,
Which be negatively ringing
From the Adversary’s grip –
Oh that we’ll bind him
Far from the savage
Liquid tress gate
Where your legs meet,
East of your ankles
Which in coitus be anchored, yes;
You will light the path to leap
And you will stake the ground,
Which undertows the ruddling
And the keening of our crown.
Mark Weiss progressed with assurance, & a variety of jiggles to keep time, through incantation, aphorism, anecdote, bald wordplay & a whole splay of other modes. “The revolution will not be marketed” was the maxim which struck me most & it struck me in relation to the vogue, plausibly the ethically as well as metaphysically necessary vogue, for insisting upon certain contradictions in thought as real contradictions with material bases, which should not be pretend-dispelled by being displacing elsewhere or by being dissolved in stipulated vocabularies. What is insistence in this context? Is it a legacy issue, to do with the beards projected of our brood, whose fontanella still close, miraculously dead to the world? To do with that & sleeper cells? My hunch is that this insistence is marketing. Another possibility is that it is even marketization. A real Buddhist thread in Mark’s stuff too, which made me wonder about the recent incursion of Buddhist philosophy into postmodern Christian theology. “You will lose a finger, but it won’t be yours.” “The thing about the ephemeral is that it’s ephemeral. That’s what gets you. The thing about the ephemeral is that it’s ephemeral.” “Bone-smasher, that tooth is gone, & [I’ve forgotten], his friend.” & something about being permitted to refuse to be reborn. Which re, Mark confessed he’d gone on too long. Yes – although to be fair, I think the previous five readings had all come in under time, disfiguring the shared standard of the phenomenal half hour. I’d’ve liked to talk sexual politics (especially the yuck faculty sex queue – cf. the “male staircase” where Alice Notley wound up) plus Buddha with Mark – I got a brief post-gloss from him about an attempt to lay bare the evidence of life rather than to take up its stories and voices.
Saturday evening. Steve MacCaffrey flushed me down inside some ice along with it along the ice. Some of his stuff seemed very good at bleeding into pragmatics without exactly betraying the words themselves, especially via patter segue. Do you know what I mean? Like, if “in” your poem you take off your shoe and chuck it at, say, Josh, you are foregrounding & utilising the paralinguistic and extralinguistic conditions of the production of meaning, but your technique is not credibly essential to your poem – maybe it’s part of the performance, something like that, but it beggars taxonomy to keep it in the same set of lockers you keep semantic content, for example. The first poem was an experiment in deferral which divisively indexed a number of those present, & proposed who would & would not like it. It never really got to it, although of course it also was it. Is Steve an evil poet? Don’t answer too quickly. The first time I went to SoundEye I met someone called Kobra who claimed to be an evil poet whose poetry “made the world a worse place to live in” & I haven’t seen him since which is a bit worrying. “Universal access to paedophilia.” & there was a poem where we all had to get out our mobiles & then actually needn’t’ve. I liked the later poems best – cerebral, funny, weird.
Peter read from a book he bound himself with a binding machine he bought very cheaply in Lidl – but they seldom have them. “Deracinate earache in a spider’s eye.” “Freckled pelican.” The way in which Sourdough Mutation makes annotation difficult is by its own abundance. “Regarding ling.” If you put anything in your head about Sourdough Mutation you may just lazily be not being arsed to put some more Sourdough Mutation in your head. “Adjoining ninja.” Sourdough Mutation contains a prosodic machine which feeds itself the poems’ past to produce their future. There are duplications, rotations and flips at the letter grain, and the phoneme, word, impression, polysemy, concept, echo and I think “intermediary” grains. (It is also therefore covered in ghasts of implied and excluded words). The manipulations are prosodic in an enlarged sense. They can be called mutagenic. But the mutagen machine is entirely at the service of a commitment to concrete imagining. That commitment is fed & governed independently of the machine. (NOTE) There is a faint question, as with the epic list, of order and honour. (Cf. the epic list in “john hurts [from idiot]“). It slightly reminded me, oddly, of recentish work by Stephen Emmerson. It slightly reminded me of earlier works by Peter, for instance, The Baffle Stage, and Adjunct. Peter also said that after he finished writing Sourdough Mutation he still had something of it in him. I guess it was the mutagen machine. For the viaticum of sourdough he made the machine flow a final self-containing effluvium. He also read this final poem / exterior coda. Adjunct seemed to give me stamina by allowing me to think sentences which it would have admitted were true. It vouchsafes a straightforward sense in which prosody (in a sense only slightly enlarged from the usual, a sense similar to the stipulative “mutagen” sense) is cognitive. That is, getting used to the voice of Adjunct teaches you to replicate it with respect to life which confronts you. Sourdough Mutation is not so straightforwardly available as a resource. It is catchy, but the disposition is not an inhabitable autopoiesis. Even so. Blessing in sorrow is moreish. Earlier Fergal Gaynor, not me, in strict confidence characterised the plain people of Ireland as “humorous and melancholy” – I trust you will keep it to yourself – in the context of sketching an extraordinarily absorptive pan-Ideological quietest ideology in Ireland. But he gave a good imitation of the not boundless patience of the plain people of Ireland, plus their blasé prodders leaping along behind.
There was an odd sound-link between Peter & Alice Notley, I think to do with the more-than-customary amount of emphasis. (Cf. Simon Jarvis on John Wilkinson’s “unfree verse” maybe). She said at the beginning that she had a perverse belief that poetry was better for telling stories for prose. “Oh. I forgot to say. Marie is writing – a codex.” There’s a bathtub. “You might well think to protect yourself. What more can be done to me? she said. Plenty, he said.” In the story, Mercy is tired, but she can’t turn them down. Frightening, foul, lovely, chatty, heartbreaking, brutal, brave, craven, cravy, grievy, mysterious, hilarious, wishy. It made me think of: (a) bits of Dorn’s Gunslinger; (b) Jennie Nuttall, who did for instance the cover of a Scotland Cleaves; (c) Kathy Acker (“I have to do what Daddy says. He makes me real”); (d) bits of George Macpherson, & that’s just me, but something for ghosts to think about is, sometimes inside I’m hart musk.
Later your one & Steve & me invented I think the double-punchline joke. You need an accomplice.
STEVE: What kind of tea do computers drink?
CELEBRANT: Uh . . . electricity?
STEVE (simultaneous, front): PC TIPS! (starts running immediately)
ACCOMPLICE (simultaneous, back): LAPTOP SOUCHANG! (ditto)
NICK-E MELVILLE (simultaneous, nobody expected it): IT! (bats eyelids, lingers)
NOTE: But I’ll tell you what they told me. Reitha (England) said it was good to melt everyone a new arsehole & she had anticipated it (not the arsehole) going on forever. Sam (England) said run that porno rationale by me one more time? cris (America) thought my stuff was being held back by – argh, I can’t remember, it sounded good! Something like in-crowd sourcing, provisional community shout-outs mapping. Karen Mac Cormack (America) said, “Do there have to be so many similes? We get it.” I think we need all the similes we can get! Also you requested a non-linear sing-a-long ball, whereupon I kneed myself in the groin after Peter Manson. Then I kicked myself – I should have kicked myself! Steve (America) mentioned a bunch of stuff, mostly drawing parallels with precedents. Andrea Brady & Marianne Morris at least had had to pull out, & I think maybe someone else & I tried to mention why in my reading & also change the part that had been a response to John Hegley’s glassespo, the better to recognise flaming pigeon cris cheek, Karen Mac Cormack pelican crossing & Gandolf Healy (& sort of Steve Willey, Tessa Whitehouse, Peter Manson, Scott Thurston).
NOTE (unlinked): If I found just the same prosody machine at Lidl I could use it, but the two workstreams would be like chalk and Chong. I guess this is just an unsubstantiated claim that the deep reciprocal implication of certain senses of knowledge & prosody in this poem are not sufficient to each other but imply & require some kind of third term.
NOTE (unlinked): Gender & understudies. Injustices big & small are propagated via temp special circumstances which supposedly are non-generalisable. Cf. state of emergency à la Schmitt, Benjamin & Agamben. In fact special begging is profoundly general. Obv. An extraordinary sequence of events is where our most general norms are likely to be found.
The Scottish Writers’ Centre presents Poems for the Millennium Volume 3, The University of California Book of Romantic & Post Romantic Poetry, Winner of the 2010 American Book Award from The Before Columbus Foundation.
Thursday 21 October, 7pm. The Clubroom, Centre for Contemporary Arts, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JD.
Editors Jerome Rothenberg and Jeffrey C. Robinson will be joined by Scottish poets Aonghas Macneacail, Gerrie Fellows, Tom Leonard, Peter Manson, Jane Goldman reading selections from Poems for The Millennium Vol. 3.