Robert Majzels is a translator and writer of poems, plays and novels, most recently Apikoros Sleuth (Mercury Press, 2004). Born in Montreal, Quebec, Majzels has worked as a lathe operator in a steel plant, a taxi driver, a hospital orderly and an insurance appraiser. In 1986, he graduated with an MA in English Literature from Concordia University where he subsequently taught creative writing for 13 years. From 2000 to 2002, Majzels lived and studied Chinese in Beijing, China. He won a Governor General’s Literary Award for French to English translation for Just Fine, from the French Pas Pire by France Daigle. Majzels’ play This Night the Kapo won first prize in the Dorothy Silver Playwright’s Award in 1991 and first prize in the Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition in 1994. Robert Majzels currently teaches at the University of Calgary.
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 Robert Majzels
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