| Accueil | Le Blog | SommaireBiographie | Bibliographie | Pages lyriquesManuscrits  | Galerie | Traductions
| Anthologie contemporaine  | Pages critiques sur la poésie modernePages critiques sur la prose | Cours et séminaires |

| Le Nouveau Recueil | De l'époque... | Informations | Rechercher | Liens | E.mail   |



1960 :Figuring
1970 :Settling
1980 : Articulating
1990 : Aggravating

French Poetry since 1950:

Tendencies V

by Jean-Michel MAULPOIX - Translated from the original French by Catherine Wieder

1990 -2000 Deconstructing,aggravating



n the 90’s quite a few constructivist attempts start with insisting parti-pris of an intention of aggravation. The literalistic venture, initiated in the 70’s by authors such as Emmanuel Hocquard is carried on and deflected by Olivier Cadiot who, for example, in “l’Art poetic’” published by P.O.L. in 1980, settles a split up and crumbling poetic discourse starting from typical sentences found in grammar school-books for children, as if he were trying to recapture language within a level of visibility and primary readability. The poet thus keeps to a juxtaposition of minimal phrases, now directly issued from everyday familiar conversation such as [« Qu’il m’attende dans le salon. Ne marchez pas si vite Il fait encore plus froid qu’hier.  restez donc pas debout. Asseyez-vous donc. Il y a encore un peu de lait et un peu de café »]

Let him wait for me in the drawing-room.

Do not walk so fast. It’s even colder than yesterday.

Don’t keep standing. Do sit down.

There’s some milk and coffee left. »

If we take up again the titles of two books of a writer close to Olivier Cadiot, i.e. Pierre Alferi (they both founded together the “Revue de literature générale”), the aim becomes to “Look for a phrase” with “natural looks”. Poetry insists in being made of the stuff of “the moist daily movements of the body, of looking and thinking again and again”[ « des  mouvements les plus quotidiens du corps, du regard et de la pensée, refaits et repensés [1] »]. Poetry is meant to be “made”. Poetry appears pierced but where its previous voids were indicating zones of unsaid and were producing a dramatized rhythm of reading, now they are rather similar to note taking: i.e. a minimal elaboration, a lacunar discourse deliberately ripped of its rhetorical binder, thus producing its effects in a diametrically opposed way to the lyrical tradition. Drawings, typographical games, musical quotations (Olivier Cadiot worked with Pascal Dusapin, the composer) and quotations in foreign languages, strengthen such an editing montage both heterogeneous and recreational. The last section of Olivier Cadiot’s “L’art poetic’” is called “Davy Crockett or Billy the Kid will for ever be courageaous”. The latter are both heroes familiar to children’s books and serve as a starting point of some kind of novel-poem, unable to be reduced to a simplified genre, composed of a summary, eight short chapters half a page long and an epilogue. Now the only story hereby told is truly a grammatical one [ “Cependant la mère pleurer (Imparfait.Ind) de joie en voir (Part. prés.) la politesse de l’étranger. Comme nous faire (Imparf.  Ind.) ceci, un jeune homme approcher (Passé simple) ».] : « Yet, the mother to cry (Indicative perfect) with joy to see (Present participle) the politeness of the foreigner. As we to do (Indicative perfect) this, a young man to approach (Past simple).” Hence the reader must obey the offered exercises which attract his attention on to the stereotypes of the adventure stories.


Olivier Cadiot Pierre Alferi Nathalie Quintane


Strangely enough, such a falsely childish relationship to language and fiction made a fortune in poetry in the last few years. It is to be found with authors as different as Nathalie Quintane, Christophe Tarkos, Eric Sautou, Sandra Moussampès, Vincent Tholomé or Ariane Dreyfus, to quote only a few names. I could take here a short example with Vincent Tholomé’s book published by “Carte Blanche” publishers in the “Prodromes” Collection directed by Christian Prigent whose major intention is to maintain “the energy of the beginnings that previously enabled a new debate to enter language” (Prigent). Thus an energy of the beginnings is here signified through the title as much as it is diffracted thematically and reiterated formally in the work. It is thus a writing all in impulses and  interpellations called forth as close as possible to a primary speech of today (whose writing recaptures rhythm and deliberately aggravates the syncopations) both with the prosaic everyday and its decomposition, its hiccups, its mildews. Sometimes it does seem quite complacently regressive – but what represent the term complacent here when it is indeed in the writer’s intention to bust language and “shitify” it, according to a tradition started with Jarry. Bang thus suggests some kind of mumbling and bogging down, a strain for nothing, a tautological writing which not only broods but also closes itself onto itself almost as if it were a scratched record…

Here are we extremely close to the “trash” tendency of some French poetry today which is resolutely anti-lyrical. But it not only deflates or oblates lyricism: it grasps the real in its lowest, in its ground level, in its coarseness and incoherence. Rather than resting on the side of writing, it now turns towards an enacting of texts found amid raw documents, cuttings and patchworks, ready-made, or literary workshops, nay mere sonorous performances, close to installation in painting. At this stage, contemporary poetry is close to plastic arts and quite late seems to reach a close encounter with attempts that had been long ago inaugurated on the side of art.




[1] Pierre Alferi, quatrième de couverture des Allures naturelles, POL, 1991.