Cities with their fools for God

Nicole Brossard
Translated from the French by Sylvain Gallais & Cynthia Hogue

this time I count the hands, the feet,the tongues, the tunics, the pebblesthe heads, the beardsthe skullcaps, the veils, the scarves,I do not count the vertigosthe ablutions the miraclesthe whiplashesin the loudspeakersthe dozens of spat-out words, such a big firethat water must be splashed on brow, on feet,I count the eyes, the fingers,I count until the dustI count until childhood Villes avec leurs fous de dieucette fois-ci je compte les mains, les pieds,les langues, les tuniques, les caillouxles têtes, les barbesles calottes, les voiles, les châles,je ne compte pas lea vertigesles ablutions les miraclesles coups de fouet,dans les hauts parleursdes dizaines de crachats de mots, un feu si grandqu'il faut de l'eau sur le front, les pieds,je compte les yeux, les doigts,je compte jusqu'à la poussièreje compte jusqu'à l'enfance

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Headshot of Nicole Brossard

Nicole Brossard has been in the vanguard of the dynamic Francophone Canadian feminist and avant-garde writing community for over four decades. For her writing, she has twice received the Grand Prix du festival international de poésie, among many other honors. Brossard has published thirty books, including Lointaines (2010), from which the current selection is drawn, and a book on translation, Et me voici soudain en train de refaire le monde. In 2019, she was awarded the Lifetime Recognition Award from The Griffin Trust For Excellence in Poetry.

Image of Sylvain Gallais and Cynthia Hogue

Sylvain Gallais is a native French speaker transplanted to the U.S. seventeen years ago. He is an emeritus professor of Economics at Université Francois Rabelais (Tours, France) and of French in the School of International Letters and Culture at Arizona State University. His co-authored book in economics is entitled France Encounters Globalization (2003).

Cynthia Hogue has nine collections of poetry, most recently Revenance, listed as one of the 2014 “Standout” books by the Academy of American Poets, In June the Labyrinth (Red Hen Press, 2017), and Contain (Tram Editions). Her co- translations (all with Sylvain Gallais) include Fortino Sámano (The overflowing of the poem), from the French of Virginie Lalucq and Jean-Luc Nancy, which won the Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2013. Hogue’s honors include two NEA Fellowships and the H.D. Fellowship at Yale University. She lives in Tucson.

Cover of Distantly

Richmond, California

A bilingual collection of poems that offers a surreal perspective of urban experience.

This bilingual edition of Nicole Brossard’s lyrical poetry is a sequence of lush, taut cityscapes. Known for her elliptical and materially grounded poetics, Brossard creates an intimate series of poems drawn loosely from urban experience. The poems comprise an evocative distillation of postmodern urban life with a sharp sense of cultural and gendered histories of violence and beauty and struggles for survival and intimacy. The poems capture the emotional and ecological surroundings of each city and its people. The cities in Brossard’s poems feel surreal and in them dwell survivors of “misfortunes,” living in urban landscapes with their “gleaming debris” and “bridges, ghats, / rivers in a time of peace and torture.” These poems gesture toward a transmuted social context and toward a quest “to meet the horizon the day after the horizon.”

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