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The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2017

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APR 2017 Issue
Critics Page

Erín Moure, My Beloved Wager: Essays from a Writing Practice

(NeWest Press, 2009)

Since it appeared in 2009, I have treasured this eclectic collection of essays, talks, and critical reflections by Canadian poet and translator Erín Moure. Written as accompaniments to her poetic projects since the mid-1980s, they often tug at the official, yet still divided and troubled bilingualism of Canadian social fabric: “I am among those for whom nation and place are restless notions, moving, disaporic, virtual, troubling.”

Moure’s poetics is based on translation and multilingual practice. Her deep and constant preoccupation with language as public space, with the experiential body as source of knowledge, makes for a poetics whose purpose is to reflect on civic consciousness. This is compounded by the way she configures lesbian desire as part of the terms of the new citizenry: “How can our physical body, so often a bearer of the cicatrices of a nation’s harrowing, […] disgrace fixed national definitions? And why might this be of any relevance to writing poetry now?”

Not that there is an easy collusion between politics and writing. Nor an easy translatability between texts and languages. Not that lyric poetics best renders queer love and desire. Not that feminist consciousness can of itself create a viable motivated poetics. She rejects the idea of a transparent contact between languages, texts, forms, identities. And insists instead on establishing complex and amorous cont(r)acts through the valuing of interconnections and reroutings. Moure’s essays expand her poetry’s philosophical and erotic dance of negotiated presence. The use of her newly found ancestral root-language Galician for the titles of two of her most notable collections of poems, O Cidadán and O Cadoiro! are proof to her mischievousness.

“Writing is always and forever a social practice,” one that is concerned with walking through the walls that always need tearing down: “The Berlin Wall is nothing compared to the boundaries we carry inside of us.” Don’t miss out on this ever more timely volume.


Caroline Bergvall

Caroline Bergvall is a poet, artist and vocal performer. She works across art-forms, media, histories, languages. Her practice integrates many ways of working and of collaborating across disciplines. Outputs include books, performances, installations, audio-works, drawings, essays. Alisoun Sings (2019) concludes a trilogy of works exploring medieval and contemporary sources. It opened with the collection Meddle English: New and Selected Texts, and was followed by Drift (2014). It was awarded a Cholmondeley Award for Poetry (2017) and a Bernard Heidsieck Art Literary Prize by the Centre Pompidou (Paris 2017). Judith E Wilson Fellow in Poetry and Drama (Cambridge, 2014), Writer in Residence (Whitechapel Gallery, 2015), Collaborative Fellow (Chicago, 2016). Currently Visiting Professor in Medieval Studies, Kings College London.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2017

All Issues