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Mobility of Light

The Poetry of Nicole Brossard

By Nicole Brossard
Edited by Louise H. Forsyth
Subjects Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature
Series Laurier Poetry Hide Details
Paperback : 9781554580477, 144 pages, April 2009


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

the cliff

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

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
Mobility of Light: The Poetry of Nicole Brossard selected with an introduction by Louis H. Forsyth

Foreword | Neil Besner

Biographical Note

Introduction | Louise H. Forsyth

Aube à la saison / “Season Dawning”

Sur fil de lumière || On strands of light

Mordre en sa chair / “Biting in the Flesh”

La loi du muscle || Muscle’s Law

L’écho bouge beau / “Echo Budges Beautiful”

neutre le monde m’enveloppe neutre || neutral the world envelops me neutral

écoute plutôt paisiblement l’écorce craquer || listen quite peacefully to the crust cracking

Suite logique / “Suite logic”

en ces temps opaques || in those opaque times

entre code et code || between code and code

suspension de lacte || action suspended

Le centre blanc / “The White Centre”

IV. le mot vertige || IV. the word vertigo

V. attentive au silence || V. attentive to the silence

Mécanique jongleuse, suivi de Masculin grammaticale / Daydream Mechanics. Masculine Singular

son désir l’explore || her desire explores her

verte vague sur le ventre sur l’échine || green billows on the belly on the spine

La partie pour le tout / “The Part for the Whole”

je prends la page par le côté incertain || I dive into the page through the uncertain side

L’amèr ou le chapitre effrité / These Our Mothers Or: The Disintegrating Chapter

Le corps des mères enlacées || The bodies of mothers entwined

Amantes / Lovhers

quelque part toujours un énoncé || somewhere always a statement

selon les années de la réalité || according to the years of reality

« la splendeur » dit O. || “the splendour,” said O.

« la science » dit Xa. || “science” says Xa.

MA continent || MY continent

Marginal Way / “Marginal Way”

l’intention la beauté extrême || intention extreme beauty

ce n’est pas familier dans l’ombre || it’s not familiar in shadow

si dans l’ombre je pense à la passion || if in shadow I think of passion

L’aviva / Aviva

l’aviva (l’aviva son visage et les relais) || aviva (aviva a face and the relaying)

l’en suite traduite (l’anima l’image et les effets) || the latest translated (anima image and effects)

l’aviva (car l’aviva, l’attisa lève le voile) || aviva (for the aviva, stirred her lifts the veil)

l’en suite traduite (car voilà que lèvres encore d’elle) || the latest translated (for here that lips still hers)

À tout regard / “If”

Si sismal || If Yes Seismal

Installations / Installations

Réalité || Reality

Langue || Tongue

Installation || Installation

Contemporain || Contemporary

Langues obscures / “Obscure Tongues”

Je m’intéresse à la connaissance || I indulge in knowledge

Je m’intéresse à la connaissance || I indulge in knowledge

La nuit verte du Parc Labyrinthe. Green Night of Labyrinth Park. La noche verde del Parque Laberinto

entre l’histoire bordée de visions || between history framed in visions

Vertige de l’avant-scène / “Downstage Vertigo”

fait de langue tourmente || fact of tongue torments

une fois reproduites dans la langue || once reproduced in language

une façon de se jeter sur le lit || a way of flopping on the bed

Au présent des veines / “Coursing through the Veins”

ce sont toujours les miêmes mots || they are always the same words

La matière heureuse manoeuvre encore, in Auprésent des veines / “Harmonious Matter Is Still Manoeuvring”

aujourd’hui je sais que la structure || today I know that the deepest blue structure

Musée de l’os et de l’eau / Museum of Bone and Water

Théâtre: vitesse d’eau || Theatre. Speed of Water

ce soir si tu rapproches ton visage || tonight if you lean your face close

Le présent n’est pas un livre || The Present Is Not a Book

Le silence de l’hibiscus || The Silence of the Hibiscus

Je m’en vais à Trieste / “I’m Leaving for Trieste”

Wanuskewin || Wanuskewin

Hôtel Clarendon || Hotel Clarendon

Ogunquit || Ogunquit

Cahier de roses et de civilisation. Écritures 2 / Notebook of Roses and Civilization

Suggestions le coeur serré || Suggestions Heavy-Hearted

Soft Link 2 || Soft Link 2

dans le temps facile et bleu || in a time blue and easy

Shadow: Soft et Soif, in Ardeur / Shadow Soft et Soif

tiens-toi bien dans le silence || hold on in silence

Après les mots / “After Words”

Le dos indocile des mots || The Indocile Back of Words

Le dos indocile des mots || The Indocile Back of Words

Postface || Afterword | Nicole Brossard



“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.


``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. ''

- Paul Milton, Canadian Literature, 193, Summer 2007

``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. ''

- Emily Carr, 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. ''

- John Herbert Cunningham, Prairie Fire