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Essays, Manifestos, Statements, Speeches, Maxims, Epistles, Diaristic Jottings, Narratives, Natural histories, Poems, Plays, Performances, Ramblings, Revelations, and all such ephemera as may appear necessary to bring society into a slight tremolo of confusion and fright at least.

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Art Poetic'

Olivier Cadiot

Translated from the French by Cole Swensen

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Olivier Cadiot
Art Poetic'
Series No.: 036
ISBN: 1-892295-22-9, Pages: 220
French Literature, Poetry

Part of 50: A Celebration of Sun & Moon Classics

This many-voiced, multi-perspective poetic text could be likened to the journal of a scientist recording observable phenomena, but yet resisting to make any conclusions of the truth of what is perceived, since language inherently shifts, moves, and falls into silence. The questions this study of the poetic art asks—Do the birds enjoy the snow as much as boys do? Where is Margaret?—are as unanswerable as its statements are uninformative. Truth in this poetics—where a walk is connected with "covering ground," the idea of "covering ground" with respiration—is poetic truth, the truth of the lapse in meaning we all make in our way of perceiving the world through language.

Olivier Cadiot lives in Paris, where he has edited, with Pierre Alferi, Revue de littérature générale. His own books include Futur, ancien, fugitif (1993) and Le Colonel des Zouaves (1997), among other works.

Also by Olivier Cadiot:
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Book Review(s)

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, p. 79 (August 30, 1999)

by Anonymous

Nimble invention and linguistic play flourish in Parisian writer Cadiot's collection of 14 long poems, first published in French in 1988. The poems embark on extemporaneous, often puckish, inquiries about the world using a language that continually rediscovers the pleasure of its own game, while finding adventure in the most unassuming of phrases and experiences.

Cadiot's desire for knowledge in the face of his understanding that "one can't know all that goes on / there" leads him to revisit, diagram and permute ordinary phenomena and motifs—blue skies, storms, dresses, letter writing, waiting, the historical Peter and Paul—in an effort to sort through the simultaneous perspectives and alternatives of everyday events.

The result is a fugue of musical and visually innovative lines that call to mind both the descriptive observational writings of Francis Ponge and the temporal obsession of Marcel Proust. In "(n-1)," the accessible directness of propositions such as "There are more books in a bookstore than in a library / There are fewer trees in the garden than in the orchard / There's a huge crowd. There was a huge crowd" unfolds artlessly into understatements of speculative, metaphysical wonder: "There's someone in the garden. Is there someone in the garden?"

Other peoms like "bla-bla-bla" and "The Tempest" apply rules of mathematical induction and propositional logic to an endlessly generative flux of grammatical transpositions, inversion, conju- gations and restatements, suggesting that the passage from one known reality to the next might be accomplished through a mere difference of words: "I am building a house by the sea / could mean: / (1) I am building the house myself / or (2) I am having the house built / To know the world is an enriching thing." With humor and persistence, Cadiot's collection teases and challenges the world it creates, inviting the reader to practice its strange, familiar language.

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