NOTES FROM

ÉDOUARD GLISSANT'S

POETIC INTENTION

No dependency in relation to nature; art chooses and purifies: in that resides liberty and the power of the mind.

STREET WORKS II, 1969.

For if, within the information sublimated (relegated) by a language, one approached yesterday and formerly different languages, and perhaps seriated them, we should take into account that tomorrow’s being will naturally speak several languages; that each language (each choice of parlance) will run from one of these languages to others, of course by its motivations and not within a mechanism of vocabulary (otherwise language will have been reduced to an Esperanto); that consequently that analysis of each language should integrate the study not only of concerned languages but again of their conjugated reaction in the being. To define a language will be to define the general attitude of the being before the words he is using, yes; but also to approach the principle (in the being) of an elocutionary symbiosis which will signify one of the modalities of its liaison to the totality of the world.

JOHN GIORNO'S DIAL-A-POEM, 1 JOHN GIORNO HANDING OUT POEMS AT STREET WORKS EVENT, 1969. PHOTO: FRED W. MCDARRAH.

Language will then no longer be, in the expression of being, pure obstacle and pure accomplishment; it will include as well, always in contradiction, detention and relation. Poetic language will not only be approached differently than common parlance, but already as the language of a language… It is moreover not a matter either of submitting to nature or of profiting from it, but, through the poem, of granting it a sort of nurturing catalysis: in this will (or that deaf desire) to redo, through the poem, the Moderns are noticeably different from the Naturalists of the old poetics. Finally, this last ambition posits the poem as a thing which, created, also responds densely to the laws of existence and of duration.… Neither a realist nor a mystic, since here it is possible to be a visionary without being a mystic… an undertaker of the concrete. But how does one carry out this art that is “an eminently terrestrial thing”. One cannot help but stumble against the obstacle, the torment without end, which is also its only weapon: the word.

A landscape. What is that, to man?

For him, no “concept of the world,” no body of doctrine, no tyrannical system implicating its environs. Is this to abdicate the so-called powers of poetry, to wean poetry from its ambition to illuminate? Is it to return it—naively and falsely crude—to a state of pure poetry? Is it to mummify it with sentiment and confession?

Because he granted (in verse) metric inspiration to human respiration, because he fills the poem with the massive shadow of the real.… In his vow, his option, in the abruptness of his poetics, by the dry justness of his parlance, he dominates. The ambiguity of this verb is appropriate to his nature.

When then is language? This cry that I elected? Not only the cry, but absence beating in the cry?

Language of “creation,” true force.

He claims it, provokes it if necessary. “I will inhabit my name.”

Contributor

Adam Pendleton

New York-based artist

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