Nicole Brossard was born in Montreal in 1943. Since 1965 she has published more than 30 books, including Museum of Bone and Water, The Aerial Letter and Mauve Desert. Brossard has twice been awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, first in 1974 and again ten years later. In 1965, she co-founded the literary periodical La barre du jour and, in 1976, the feminist journal Les têtes de pioche. That same year, she co-directed the movie Some American Feminists. In 1991, Brossard collaborated with Lisette Girouard on an anthology of women’s poetry from Quebec entitled Des origines à nos jours which was awarded the Prix Athanase-David, Quebec’s highest literary distinction. In 2003, she received the W.O. Mitchell Literary Prize for mentorship. Her books have been translated into English, Spanish and Japanese. Brossard’s most recent novel is Yesterday, at the Hotel Clarendon.
In April 2019, Nicole Brossard was announced as the 2019 Griffin Lifetime Recognition Award recipient.
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.
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 Nicole Brossard
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
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