“On strands of light I am hanging poetry like garlands.”
These first words of poetry from Nicole Brossard anticipate the vast body of work she has published in the last four decades. The poems in Mobility of Light were chosen by Louise H. Forsyth to elicit a sense of these whirling garlands and convey the intense energy—physical, creative, spiritual, erotic, imaginative, playful, ethical, and political—that has carried Brossard to a uniquely significant vision of the human spirit.
Poems are presented in French and English on facing pages, underscoring the density of meaning in each word and line and highlighting the unusual rhythms in Brossard’s originals and the extraordinary sonorities with which they beat. Some of the translations in this volume have been previously published, while others are new. In her afterword, Brossard talks about travelling back in time to discover how our most vivid sensations, emotions, and thoughts are nourished and transformed by our enigmatic relation to language.
About the authors
Nicole Brossard was born in Montréal in 1943. Twice Governor General’s Award winner for her poetry, she has published more than thirty books since 1965. Many have been translated into English: Mauve Desert, The Aerial Letter, Picture Theory, Lovhers, Baroque at Dawn, The Blue Books, Installations, Museum of Bone and Water, Fluid Arguments, Notebook of Roses and Civilization and White Piano. She has co-founded and co-directed the literary magazine La Barre du Jour (1965-1975), co-directed the film Some American Feminists (1976), and co-edited the acclaimed Anthologie de la poésie des femmes au Québec (1991 and 2003).
She is an officer of the Order of Canada, chevalière of the National Order of Quebec, and a member of l’Académie des lettres du Québec. She has twice won the Trois-Rivières International Poetry Festival Grand Prix Québecor (1989 and 1999). In 1991 she was awarded le Prix Athanase-David (the highest literary recognition in Québec). Her work has been widely translated into English and Spanish and is also available in many other languages, including German, Italian, Japanese, Slovenian, Romanian, Norwegian, Catalan, and Portuguese. Two anthologies of her work in English have appeared: Selections: the poetry of Nicole Brossard (2010) and Mobility of Light (2009), with another planned for publication in 2020.
Nicole has been awarded le Prix international de la littérature francophone Benjamin Fondane, le Prix du CIÉF for International Francophone Studies, the W.O. Mitchell Prize, and the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize. In 2015, she was included in the dictionary Le Petit Robert des noms propres. In 2018, she was the recipient of the first Violet Prize awarded by the Blue Metropolis Festival. Mauve Desert has been presented as a multidisciplinary creation in 2018 and is slated for an opera adaptation in 2020-21.
In 2019, an anthology of her poetry in Portuguese and a translation of Mauve Desert in Catalan will be published. Her most recent book in English is an art chapbook titled A Cappella with illustrations by Mauricio Corteletti, translated by Erín Moure and Robert Majzels.
Louise H. Forsyth has always loved performance and theatre. As an amateur lover of the stage, she has acted, sung, danced, written, directed, produced, translated, stage managed, served as props manager, and hung out as much as she could as spectator. Woven into an amateur obsession with theatre has been her professional life, where she wrote two theses on the classic French writer of theatrical comedy, MoliÃ¨re, taught courses and supervised theses in theatre, drama, and dramatic literature, wrote scholarly studies about French and QuÃ©bec playwrights, and theorized about acting and dramatic writing. Her areas of academic specialization are feminist performance and dramaturgy in QuÃ©bec. Along with her passion for what the women of QuÃ©bec have written for theatre, she has been engaged for quite some time with developing theories of dramaturgy and acting au fÃ©minin, along with revealing the sources of tenacious sexism in the practices and conventions for doing theatre, for studying and evaluating it, and for recounting its history. In short, she has been wondering for quite some time why womenâ??s roles have tended to remain stereotypical in works for stage, TV and film, why theatre done by womenâ??when its perspective is explicitly derived from a womanâ??s point of viewâ??is still easily dismissed with a summary shrug as deserving only condescending scorn, why womenâ??s theatrical experimentation is so rarely discussed by scholars as serious theoretical work or used by them in their own theoretical reflections, and why the silence of critics on women and their richly creative activities has not yet been overcome when it comes to their accounts of theatre history.
Excerpt: Mobility of Light: The Poetry of Nicole Brossard (by (author) Nicole Brossard; edited by Louise H. Forsyth)
Marginal Way by Nicole Brossard; translated by Anne-Marie Wheeler
intention extreme beauty
landscape you add it to the light
of the penchant
the hour is propitious beyond reality
the cosmic body approaches far off
in the marginal way, flagrant attitude
it's not familiar in shadow
boundaries destroy sight
yet being I say traverse the echo
aerial feminine in the equation above
the seas, syllable here hope
my mind stirs woman essential
if in shadow I think of passion
on the back of fragments in full quietude
it's an aspect of reading
a position taken to see there
matter on boundaries cleaves eyes
I exist live to air
''As American poet Anne Waldman usefully asks, ‘And what to make of [poetry]? “Do” with it? “Do” anything? Is it part of the poet's vow to perpetually catch, distill, refine, re-imagine where one walks, what one notices?’ I can't answer for all poets here. As a teacher, however, I can say that yes, it is our vow as instructors to show students how poetry perpetually catches, distills, refines, and re-imagines our selves and our worlds. I agree with Neil Besner, general editor of Wilfrid Laurier Press, that what we ‘do’ with poetry starts with our students. We need to attend more carefully to what poetry we teach as well as how we teach it. I thus applaud the efforts of the Laurier Poetry Series, which, with the hopes of creating and sustaining ‘the larger readership that contemporary Canadian poetry so richly deserves,’ has been publishing ‘useful, engaging, and comprehensive introductions’ to the life's work of major Canadian poets. Each of these volumes includes 35 poems selected and introduced by a critic, followed by an afterword by the poet. The volumes are intended, Besner argues, to make the connections between the life and the work more accessible to a ‘general’ reader (‘Foreword’). ''Besner's eloquent, timely, and practical arguments remind me of Lyn Hejinian's belief that our poetic revolutions will always be ‘local, particular, and temporary,’ but are nonetheless undiminished. Let us consider what poetry is doing in the world. Let us consider how Laurier's texts differ, as Besner argues in their intent, from the conventional anthology and whether they in fact demonstrate the relevance of poetry to a life. Let us consider, for example, how in the Laurier Poetry Series' most recent collections, Mobility of Light: The Poetry of Nicole Brossard and Fierce Departures: The Poetry of Dionne Brand, we might understand what it means to live. Let us think about how, through poetry, we can re-imagine who we are as well as the world we walk through.''
ARC Poetry Magazine, Winter 2010
''Wilfrid Laurier University Press continues its stellar Laurier Poetry Series with this much anticipated volume. They could not have picked a better person than Louise H. Forsyth as its author, Forsyth having edited the definitive work on Brossard, Essays on her Work (Guernica Editions, 2005).... Forsyth has done an amazing job. One of the pleasures of this collection is to see the original French alongside the English translation.... Forsyth has been extremely judicious in her selection of poems in Mobility of Light. They capture all the characteristics for which Brossard has become known. This is an excellent representative sample of fifty years of Brossard—a daunting task rendered exquisitely.''
''The quest for a wider audience for poetry may be quixotic, but this series makes a serious attempt to present attractive, affordable selections that speak to contemporary interests and topics that might engage a younger generation of readers. Yet it does not condescend, preferring to provide substantial and sophisticated poets to these new readers. At the very least, these slim volumes will make very useful introductory teaching texts in post-secondary classrooms because they whet the appetite without overwhelming.''
Canadian Literature, 193, Summer 2007
Other titles by Nicole Brossard
Museum of Bone and Water
All the Feels / Tous les sens
Affect and Writing in Canada / Affect et écriture au Canada
A Nicole Brossard Reader
Writers on Writing in Canada
Regenerations / Régénérations
Canadian Women's Writing / Écriture des femmes au Canada
Fences in Breathing
Notebook of Roses and Civilization
Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon
Other titles by Louise H. Forsyth
Ravage of Life
Laurier Poetry Pack #3
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Laurier Poetry Pack #2
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Laurier Poetry Pack #1
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Anthology of Quebec Women's Plays in English Translation Volume Three
Two Plays: The Cage and L'Ile de la Demoiselle
The Cage and L'Ile de la Demoiselle
Anthology of Quebec Women's Plays in English Translation Volume Two
Anthology of Quebec Women's Plays in English Translation Volume One