Monday, 19 October 2020

The Occasional Backroom: Jeanette Lynes


 I'm sure the last time I saw Jeanette Lynes was at a Burlesque show in Edmonton where we were both reading erotic poetry. I have so little erotic poetry that I had to borrow someone else's, but in the generally louche but febrile atmosphere I don't think anyone noticed.

Jeanette Lynes is deprecating about her work- as you can hear in the video- but she is a superb writer, edgy, opinionated and witty I was about to say, but her humour goes beyond cleverness to be a weapon to leaven, dilute or reangle our examination of some serious issues. It's a path I have always been drawn to myself: I think anything that makes poetry less boring, more affecting and more accessible in the process of delivering a message is ok by me. The poem she reads here, 'John Clare in Love' is a case in point. It's hilarious. But serious.

Jeanette Lynes is the author of seven books of poetry and two novels. Her third novel is forthcoming from HarperCollins Canada in 2021. Jeanette was recently a Visiting Fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities. She directs the Master of Fine Arts in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. She has won many accolades and awards. For instance her most recent novel, 'The Small Things That End The World', won the Muslims for Peace and Justice Fiction Award at the 2019 Saskatchewan Book Awards. Her most recent book of poetry, 'Bedlam Cowslip: The John Clare Poems', from which the featured poem here is taken, won the 2015 Saskatchewan Arts Board Poetry Award.


John Clare in Love
(1818)


He first saw her from afar –
tramping across the field, a kind of moving statue,
a girl heavy in good places.

He scrambled up a pollarded tree to mark her shape
and direction. He’d fallen from trees before. This time
despite the ale, he hung on.

Even from a distance he knew she’d look
fine milking cows. Her sturdy form, those hands
would draw the milk, would work the teats.

High in the tree, he was more besotted than a bird,
and happier. His eyes followed her vanishing
over the grassed horizon. He climbed to earth,

penned two poems to her beauty. Anyone in love
will recognize this, the heart’s highest moment, this ledge
of clock before the beloved’s mouth

opens and awry things go and go until the end of time.
But there’d be buckets to fill with wildflowers,
the greensward to harvest, before that befell them,

her name to discover. Could she love a lime-burner?
Like any decent girl she’d send him away.
But he’d return. Until then, in his choking

shifts at the kiln she’d cross that pasture in his mind
a thousand times and what he began to think was,
she walked like someone who could read. 



What Editors Don’t Want

She gazed out the window. She was an astute gazer.
She smiled with dazzling teeth into the day’s
drizzle which stirred within her a vague
premonition some dire event would soon befall them.
‘Foreshadowing’, she thought, suddenly. She smiled,
pleased with her own window-gazing acuity.
She stared more probingly into the yard
cluttered with rusted racing cars.
Rickenstock had not cut the grass all summer,
obvious from the tall insolence of the weeds.
Metaphor! She laughed. Metaphors made her laugh.
(Tall insolence of the weeds, not bad,
she thought). She was a quirky, intelligent woman
with a enduring reverence for tropes.
The yard was rampant with neglect & falling action.
She raised her arm & flicked her blonde bangs. She smiled.
She lit a slender menthol cigarette. Suddenly she knew –
Rickenstock! Rickenstock was the killer!
‘Climax’, she thought! Denouement. She smiled.



Jeanette's Website Here, with examples of poems, reviews etc:


More biographical information, poetry, videos and reference:

Thursday, 1 October 2020

The Occasional Backroom: Aurélia Lassaque



Delighted to feature Aurélia Lassaque in the Backroom today. Aurélia is a poet who writes in Occitan, the language of the medieval troubadours, spoken in the south of France, Monaco, Val D'Aran in Spain, and the Guardia Piemontese in Italy. Collectively, these regions are sometimes referred to as Occitania. Occitan is an ancient romance language with a connection to Catalan. Like Scots with English, Occitan is often thought of as a dialect of Catalan, though, like Scots, the language has the historical and linguistic right to be thought of as at least the equal to its neighbour. Occitan is hampered by the fact that less than 10,000 still speak it, and that it lacks a standardised vocabulary. It is beautiful, though, isnt it? 

Aurélia Lassaque (b. 1983) is a bilingual poet and performer who writes in French and Occitan. She is interested in the interaction between various forms of art, and often cooperates with visual artists, videomakers, dancers and particularly musicians. She accompanies her readings with short songs from the Occitan folklore tradition. She has performed all over the world, in Europe, Northern and Latin America, Africa, Scandinavian countries, Indonesia, India and China.

Her work has been translated into over twenty languages including Asturian, Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, English, Finnish, Hebrew, Italian, Norwegian, Polish and Spanish. Her collection 'Pour que chantent les salamandres' (Editions Bruno Doucey, 2013) has been translated in many different languages and received critical attention from, among others,  Her second French/Occitan collection, 'En quête d’un visage', a prescient dialogue between Ulysses and Elle/Ela (She), was published in France by Editions Bruno Doucey (May 2017). She has also collaborated as a screenwriter for the cinema with director Giuseppe Schillaci: Transhumance (co-screenwriter, actress), a short film poem, presented at the 76th Venice Film Festival (MaTerre 2019, Cantiere Cinepoetico Euromediterraneo).


Here she reads an excerpt from 'En quête d’un visage', a dialogue between 'She' and Ulysses. The English translation is supplied by Madeleine Campbell, a Canadian writer, researcher and translator who teaches at the University of Edinburgh.





Ela


Dona-me un nom, Ulisses

dona-me un nom que te posquèsse esperar
serai aquí, i aurà lo miralh
e parlarem de tu, ieu e l’autra al dedins del miralh
la rejonharai aquí, sempre de galís, al ras d’una cadièra, al biais dels aucèls
amb la dolor dins ma cuèissa per me pas perdre d’aquel costat del miralh

lo matin portarai mos pendents d’aurelhas
los servarai emai benlèu al lièch se me deviás susprene al mitan de la nuèch

mas s’ai pas de nom cossi saupre quala d’entre ela o ieu velha ?


She

Give me a name, Ulysses

give me a name so that i can wait for you
i’ll be here, the mirror, there
and we’ll speak of you, i and the other in the mirror
i’ll join her there, a little slant, on the edge of a chair, the way birds do
the ache in my thigh keeps me from losing myself to that side of the mirror

in the morning i’ll wear my earrings
i may even wear them to bed should you surprise me in the night

but if i have no name how will i know which of us, her or me, is waiting?


Ulisses

Te donar un nom ?

Te donar un nom quand balas dins lo negre dins de carrièras desèrtosas amb de grands gosses ?

Te donar un nom quand vas a la rivièra en tenguda de nuèch jos lo naut solelh en ignorar los òmes que se son perduts en te cresent sasir ?

T’ofrirai d’iranges
e per las pelar un cotèl pas mai grand que lo poce
un cotèl d’ivòri qu’aurai raubat aprèp la batalha
lo present d’un defunt a una autra femna
e te caldrà pensar a ela, a sos lençòls freds, al trauc dins sa pòcha a la plaça del cotèl

t’ofrirai de brots d’èrbas qu’aurai servats longtemps jos ma sòla
que creisson aquí ont repausan los còsses
e se quilhan coma de sentinelas al quite punt ont s’acaba la fugida


Ulysses

Give you a name?

Give you a name when you dance in the dark with great hounds in empty streets?

Give you a name when you stroll to the river dressed for night in the glaring sun, spurning
the men who were doomed the moment they thought they possessed you?

I’ll offer you oranges
and to peel them a knife no bigger than a thumb
an ivory knife I’ll steal when the battle is over
a dead man’s gift to another woman
and you’ll be bound to think of her, of her cold sheets, of the hole in her pocket
traded for the knife

I’ll offer you blades of grass that cling to the soles of my feet
from shoots that grow there, where the bodies lie
standing tall as sentinels at the precise point their retreat ended



More Information on her Work here:

https://www.versopolis-poetry.com/poet/58/aurelia-lassaque