Eugène Savitzkaya and Pierre Bettencourt in Anomalous

November 25th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The 10th issue of Anomalous is out! Featuring my translations of Belgian poet and novelist Eugène Savitzkaya and French writer Pierre Bettencourt. The issue is available for reading and listening online or downloading, in its entirety, in pdf and mobi formats. My translations of short prose pieces by these authors include Savitzkaya’s “In the Rediscovered Book” and “In Memory of Tabacchino,” and Bettencourt’s “Taxidermy.”

Some excerpts:

“In the book rediscovered in the drawer of the Gordon press, in the white cellar of the house on the mountains in the land that knew so many plagues and disasters, you saw trucks rolling down a muddy road, their enormous wheels splattering cyclists, many cyclists, red, blue and green; you saw quite low over the woods the balloon in flames, and in a well-mown meadow, fallen oxen washed by rain; you saw, sitting on a stone shaped like an oval table, a young girl wearing a crown made from natural palm leaves soaked in varnish, plastic ivy leaves and pearl flowers, wearing a great black wool damask paletot, lined with gray squirrel glistening with dew, but browned in spots. No loupe was needed, all this was blindingly obvious.”

“Tabacchino was a child. Tabacchino was a dormouse. Tabacchino was a dog, a bird, a squirrel, an almond tree, a living being. Child, dog, dormouse, bird, squirrel, or almond tree, he breathed, drank water, had a clean smell, a unique charm, and grew old. He bore inside him sap that flowed groundward through openings planned and improvised. The wind would muss his hair, rumple him, refresh and sometimes torment him. The first Tabacchino to get the coup de grâce was the almond tree: drought, then woodcutters. They wept then, lovers of almonds, the child first among them. No one could put the tree back as it had been. The dormouse, terrified by an owl, succumbed to a heart attack, rotted, and was scattered to the winds. Not the slightest sign of that bird in the skies now. Seek the dog’s grave in vain. Then came the child’s turn: crushed, ground, and scattered.”

Born in 1955 to parents of Ukrainian descent, Belgian Eugène Savitzkaya has written more than forty books of fiction, poetry, plays, and essays. He received Prix triennal du roman for his 1994 novel Marin mon coeur. Rules of Solitude (Quale Press, 2004; trans. Gian Lombardo), a collection of prose poems, was his first book in English. His work is forthcoming in Unstuck.

“Dislocating the dummy’s limbs and knowing to fold oneself so as not to sit legs facing forward. No longer having to turn one’s head. Taking advantage of this at church and at the dinner table when a dish disagrees with you, or else during love, seated in the lap of the beloved, when the sight of genitals distresses you. Knees with a full range of swivel motion, rather than half-range.”

Writer, poet, and painter Pierre Bettencourt (1917—2006) was, despite coming from a prominent family, a retiring figure and lifelong outsider artist. He printed his first works on a family-owned press during the Nazi occupation, and later published Antonin Artaud, Francis Ponge, Henri Michaux, and Jean Dubuffet. A friend of Jean Paulhan, he was a frequent contributor to the Nouvelle revue française; Gallimard later put out a volume of his selected works. Ingeborg Kohn has translated a selection of his prose poems, Fables (2003), for the Tucson-based independent poetry publisher Chax Press. His work has appeared in The Collagist, and I have written on him at Weird Fiction Review.

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