It’s a literary
event, taking place in French, mostly, but also in English in a downtown
gallery packed with 150 people, at least. They’re mostly young, or youngish,
and in any case hip. Not at all your usual literary crowd, in other words.
It begins with a gentleman
called Eric Lint
in an unserious hat who
claims to be affiliated with the University of Villeray in Montreal. This must
be fiction, you think, there being no University of Villeray, in Montreal or
Jhave sits down at one
microphone, with Alice van der Klei at the other. The piece is called Teleport. He reads in English, she reads
in French; she is the one who translated the English into French, and she’s
also the chief editor of the online magazine bleuOrange. This is a bleuOrange event,
and that alone would give it literary heft, bleuOrange echoing the French
surrealist poet Paul Éluard’s mémorable image of the world as blue as an orange
-- La terre est bleue comme un orange.
two performers are sitting at a table at the front of the room, but the lighting
– and everyone’s attention – is on the gigantic screens above.
Unsettled and unsettling words and images flit across these screens in a
post-apocalyptic universe of living creatures – a bird, an insect, a baby –
along with indeterminate organisms, broken glass, and other menaces. You can
see it here.
is a story here. Hard to retell in so many words. It’s at about the time that I
figure that out that I find myself impressed. Somewhere near the end are the
words “longing for union.” Only connect, in other words. I can relate to that. I
grew up with E.M. Forster. I don’t know if Jhave did, too, but this is a man
with a literary sensibility, whatever his favourite reading has been.
a whole programme, a lineup, just as with other literary events. Grégory Fabre’s Obliqueis next. Letters appear, quickly metamorphose into other letters, creating
new words, new meanings, and new stories. A story that might have been set in
Brooklyn is transformed on screen into a story about Odessa, and then into
another about Berlin.
My eyes flit from one screen to the
other and back again. I’m struggling to make sense of the story, the multiple,
ever-changing stories of meeting a friend whose face and name and background
keep changing. And what is the city
where this is all taking place, anyway? It’s moving fast, and I’ve barely been
able to read a line on one screen before I’m scrambling to see what’s jumping
out at me on the other. I miss a lot, there’s no way to read it all properly,
really get it. I catch a line about being “hand in hand on uncertain ground.” It all reminds me of that line of Leonard Cohen’s about a woman “who’s gone and
changed her name again.”
I like some pieces more than others, the
way I always do, whatever the event. I like the speed of this one. I find the experience of
watching and listening to it exciting. The story – some version of the story –
is about love, life, death, change. Something along those lines.
I like the fact that I find it so
hard to write about the piece. When was it not hard to write about love, life,
death, and change? When was it not hard to write about writing? To that extent
this is familiar.
Reminds me of “a poem should not
mean, but be.”
In the cunningly titled u-rss, Marc
Veyrat plays with words, with computer
language, with letters, with fonts, and with music, to create a piece that owes
something to concrete poetry, something to rap, and something to RSS feeds.
I’m going to need a new critical
vocabulary for this. Another good sign.
is the title of Sébastien Cliche and Johanne Jarry’s
graphic play with narrative possibilities. Is there a story here ? Check
it out for yourself.
Johanne Barry and Sébastien Cliche
I find this piece difficult. At some
point, almost on the point of giving up on it. I think, Only a wise man would
so persist in his folly. Which is something I last heard from a writer
commenting on a realist novel published as a book in the old-fashioned way.
It’s intermission. There’s more to come,
but I have a deadline to meet, so head home to my own computer.
© Linda Leith 2011