Distantly

Omnidawn Press, 2022

This bilingual edition of Nicole Brossard’s lyrical poetry is a sequence of lush, taut cityscapes.

A bilingual edition of Nicole Brossard’s Lointaines translated by Sylvain Gallais and Cynthia Hogue

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.” 


Nicole Brossard has been in the forefront of the dynamic Québécois feminist, lesbian and avant-garde writing communities, devoting herself to writing as both vocation and avocation since the 1970s.  Known for the sensual intensity of her work and the originality of her poetics, she is now recognized as one of the most significant Francophone writers of her generation.  Recipient of many honors, including the W. O. Mitchell Award and the Molson Prize from the Canada Council, she received the prestigious Lifetime Recognition Award for 2019 from the Griffin Trust.

Reviews

To accompany Nicole Brossard in poetry through her many cities, in the marvelous English versions of Sylvain Gallais and Cynthia Hogue, is to be captivated again by the world we are always ­-almost- on the brink of losing or ruining. Her cities float before our eyes as desire incarnate, though she does not ignore that they are riddled with inequalities, contused by environmental degradation, jostled by misapprehensions, and just plain tired. Brossard’s steady and generous gaze infuses joy despite adversity. Here, language itself penetrates beautifully to reanimate our contradictory love of the world. In her wide embrace of the cities that we inhabit, Brossard wills us toward better, toward recognizing each other’s humanity enduringly, in an openness that brings distances closer, into the heart.

Erin Moure, author of The Elements

One of the most outstanding writers of her generation, known for her feminist commitment and innovative aesthetics, Nicole Brossard here turns her incisive imagination to cities, evoking them through details that range from the tender to the gritty, from their rivers to their graffiti. And always as lived: she shows them not as abstractions, but as extensions of the people that live them, just as the people are, in turn, constructions of the cities in which they live. Gallais & Hogue capture all the complexity of Brossard’s subtle implications and slippery imagery in a translation that reads with the grace and conviction of the original.

Cole Swensen, author of Art in Time

“always I take up my cities again…” Uncommon sites, dreamscapes, distillations of experience as place; provocative, improvisatory, allusive, opening vistas both unexpected and déjà vu: “cities suspended above the hours” and “cities really…with their mounds of women and stones”–effluence of too much history.  A cosmopolitan of interiority, Brossard creates meta-cities where the political lies down with the poetic, where distance lives in the lyric’s eternal present tense. Distantly doesn’t feel like translation, but like the discovery of a wholly original poet newly minted in English.

Eleanor Wilner, author of Before Our Eyes: New and Selected Poems 1975-2017 and Gone to Earth: Early and Uncollected Poems 1963-1

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