Erín Moure is an award-winning poet and translator with more than 15 books to her credit. Originally from Calgary, Moure wrote her first collections of poetry in Vancouver – Empire; York Street, which was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 1979; Wanted Alive; and Domestic Fuel, which won the 1985 Pat Lowther Prize. Her 1988 work Furious won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. She was twice shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize: in 2002 for Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person and in 2006 for Little Theatres. The latter work won the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry in 2005. She has also published four chapbooks: The Whisky Vigil, Excess, Visible Spectrum, and Search Procedures, or Lake This. Her most recent collection is O Cadoiro. Erín Moure works as a freelance editor and communications specialist in Montreal.
Erin Moure’s Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person is wry, clever, playful and lyrical.
Erin Moure’s Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person is wry, clever, playful and lyrical. It is essentially, and beautifully, a love letter to that poet of fluid identities Fernando Pessoa. And it is also a love letter to Toronto, its vanished pastoral. Pessoa’s Tejo river is Moure’s Humber river. Her language, as his, is always doubled. She translates and recreates their shared sensations of nature’s plain existence, its material absolution.
Each of these new poems of Moure’s is a ‘little theatre’ of noun, seizing it in the fact of its quotidian, and meeting it as fresh, necessary and incredulous utterance.
Poetry is doing nothing but using losing and refusing and pleasing and betraying and caressing nouns’ said Gertrude Stein. Each of these new poems of Moure’s is a ‘little theatre’ of noun, seizing it in the fact of its quotidian, and meeting it as fresh, necessary and incredulous utterance. If we say ‘water’, she shows in her limpid cadence, we must reinvent it, not excluding oil spills, endangered aquatic birds, millwheels and all the other economies that inflect perception. Here, poetry is urgently and simply our water, the other language that brings us, with Moure’s characteristically rigorous sensuality, a thinking adequate to the damages, and the delights, of the world. This book includes a useful dictionary that shows other words for electrical monopoly, spontaneous whoops in song, and thanking.
Majzels and Moure are not masters but divine servants of the English words they so carefully bring over to us.
Over her four decades of writing and publishing poems and novels and essays-textes, Nicole Brossard has always shone an investigative light on every word that comes to her, and turned a demanding ear to each item of punctuation or notation. She sees the universe in the word for sand, and knows that it could be sable mouvant. So the translators of Nicole Brossard have to make poems we will love to read the way a carpenter loves a finished table. Majzels and Moure are not masters but divine servants of the English words they so carefully bring over to us. Inventive writers themselves, they are practiced translators who have here taken on a daunting project and succeeded beautifully.
by Erín Moure
winter water blue melt backlit
life suddenly in thin chemise
in questions and old silences
in the puzzle of proper nouns
and barking city: February
slow eyelashes that beckon to love
and spinning tops
foliage of word for word
gentleness that evades meaning
plunge into the dark
Copyright © English translation Robert Majzels and Erin Moure, 2007
At sunset, bending out the window
Knowing, sidelong, fields in the avenues
My eyes burn anyhow but I don’t care, I’m still reading
that Book by Erin Mouré.
How she makes me ache! She was a creek’s companion
lost south of St. Clair, a walking prisoner in the city’s freedom.
But the way she saw houses,
And the way she stopped short to look in the avenues,
And gave herself to things, in the same way
You’d gaze at trees,
And lift eyes down Vaughan Road to see where you’re headed,
And notice small crocuses pulse in the ravine.
She never speaks of that ache of sadness,
Never admits it,
Just walks downtown as if in a creek bed catching minnows,
Sad like flowers pressed flat in books
Or plants pressing up green, in yogourt jars …
Copyright © 2001 Erin Mouré
It’s fears slow and fascinating that enter life each morning at coffee time while she wonders if tomorrow there’ll be war and brusquely as she does each morning slices bread and cheese. It’s gestures of uncontrollable avidity that proliferate in the throng and its worldly febrility, its parquet fever on the trading floor and stage. It’s hesitations, heart cries that crisscross broad avenues full of shade and dust that attract and make us think of our legs and elbows, our knees too when desire bumps and bounces words and feelings upward, it’s simple things with prefixes like cyber or bio that hold thoughts fast, float them a moment till we believe them aquatic and marvellous. It’s certainties that in tiny increments of dust and light are soon mixed with our tears. It’s inexplicable feelings made of small hurts strung over long years and vast horizons, it’s blues ideas that settle in where the happiness of existing threatens to take the breath away or to lodge itself in the throat like an instrument of fervour. It’s glimmers of intoxications impossible to look at for long, thoughts so precise that engage us beyond shade and wind, far beyond crude words, so noisy so terribly close to silence that the world all around seems suddenly engulfed in high seas and continual rustling like the music in our heads that in one stroke of the bow dislodges all that resists torment. It’s underlined passages, fragments of happiness that traverse the body and raise bridges all around because elsewhere and in the wild blue yonder they say there’s euphoria. It’s written down with bruises, abundance of life burst to fullness in a world and its niches of worn paths that lick at the shadow of bones.
Copyright © 2007
I am in the little field of my mother
Her field touches
oaks of the valley
and I touch the faces of my corn
Opening corn’s faces
so that my hands touch its braille letters
The face of corn is all in braille
the corn wrote it
Fires will burn this evening
burn the dry husks of the corn
and I will learn to read
Sheep will wait by the trough
for they know corn’s feature, corn’s humility
Copyright © 2005 Erin Moure
Se quiserem que eu tenha um misticismo, está bem, tenho-o.
Sou místico, mas só com o corpo.
A minha almo é simples e não pensa.
O meu misticismo é não quere saber.
É viver e não pensar nisso.
Não sei o que é a Natureza: canto-a.
Vivo no cimo dum outeiro
Numa casa caiada e sozinha,
E essa é a minha definição.
XXX So I’m a Mystic, and Then?
If they accuse me of mysticism, alright, I’m guilty.
I’m a mystic. Now do you feel better?
But it’s only an act of the body.
My soul is simple and doesn’t think at all.
My mysticism is in not wanting to know.
It lives without thinking about living.
I don’t know what Nature is; I just go on about it.
I live where Winnett bends almost double, a little valley,
In a brick house, half a duplex in fact,
built by a man who lost his son at Teruel.
The neighbour beside me throws lasagna to the crows.
There. That’s how you can define me.
Copyright © 2001 Erin Mouré