Newsletter Issue #38 August, 2014

Newsletter Issue #38 August, 2014
August 20, 2014 Plume

Welcome to Issue # 38 of Plume.

August: and echoed here the autobiographical notes of this month’s Editor’s Note, wherein I re-trace the ghostly wayward steps of my youth, circa 1972, which led me to of all places: the library. Specifically, the Louisville Free Public, in whose glacial silences I found hours of refuge, turning the pages of whatever book had caught my attention in the stacks — almost always not the one I was looking for, of course.  “One book calls to another” writes Vila-Matas: and it’s true.  Though he might have said “whispered” — for there, hunting, say, for Mary Ann Caws’ great  The Poetry of Dada and Surrealism, I found pressed against it Artaud’s The Theatre and Its Double; a few spines away were Apollinaire’s Alcools, and Kenneth Rexroth’s translations of Reverdy’s Selected Poems. Heaven, of a kind I had never known. Or, anti-heaven, with no use for a hell against which to define itself — save the mundane, the bourgeois. I am thinking of you, Monsieur Péret “…god the father of all mud/who gave to Louis XVI/the divine right to croak/like a dog in a laundry-pail…”
And so, for our “secret poem” this month, I choose the majestic and hypnotic

The Voice of Robert Desnos

So like a flower and a current of air
the flow of water fleeting shadows
the smile glimpsed at midnight this excellent evening
so like every joy and every sadness
it is the midnight past lifting its naked body above belfries and poplars
I call to me those lost in the fields
old skeletons young oaks cut down
scraps of cloth rotting on the ground and linen drying in farm country
I call tornadoes and hurricanes
storms typhoons cyclones
tidal waves
I call the smoke of volcanoes and the smoke of cigarettes
the rings of smoke from expensive cigars
I call lovers and loved ones
I call the living and the dead
I call gravediggers I call assassins
I call hangmen pilots bricklayers architects
I call the flesh
I call the one I love
I call the one I love
I call the one I love
the jubilant midnight unfolds its satin wings and perches on my bed
the belfries and the poplars bend to my wish
the former collapse the latter bow down
those lost in the fields are found in finding me
the old skeletons are revived by my voice
the young oaks cut down are covered with foliage
the scraps of cloth rotting on the ground and in the earth
snap to at the sound of my voice like a flag of rebellion
the linen drying in farm country clothes adorable women
whom I do not adore
who come to me
obeying my voice, adoring
tornadoes revolve in my mouth
hurricanes if it is possible redden my lips
storms roar at my feet
typhoons if it is possible ruffle me
I get drunken kisses from the cyclones
the tidal waves come to die at my feet
the earthquakes do not shake me but fade completely
at my command
the smoke of volcanoes clothes me with its vapors
and the smoke of cigarettes perfumes me
and the rings of cigar smoke crown me
loves and love so long hunted find refuge in me
lovers listen to my voice
the living and the dead yield to me and salute me
the former coldly the latter warmly
the gravediggers abandon the hardly-dug graves
and declare that I alone may command their nightly work
the assassins greet me
the hangmen invoke the revolution
invoke my voice
invoke my name
the pilots are guided by my eyes
the bricklayers are dizzied listening to me
the architects leave for the desert
the assassins bless me
flesh trembles when I call

the one I love is not listening
the one I love does not hear
the one I love does not answer.

­– Robert Desnos, translated by William Kulik

Lovely, yes?  But, I promise: In the months ahead, we will leave the Surrealists behind — autumn approaches, and other poets await.
Business, then:

Next up, after this issue’s Featured Selection from Andre du Bouchet, translated and with introductions by Hoyt Rogers and Paul Auster, look for work from those previously mentioned in this section, and newly arrived a compendium of new work from seven South African poets, courtesy of the good offices of Marc Vincenz. (Here, too, again, let me add as always: those with projects that might be suitable for the Featured Selection, please do contact us with your proposal at

I am making plans now to attend the Plume reading in Paris: 30 September, The American University of Paris, Grand Salon, 6:30. Many thanks to Jeffrey Greene, Marilyn Hacker, and Molly Freeman — and continued hopes of seeing there, too, Moses Emmanuel and Claire Malroux.  Travelers — come…if you can…

Also, two readings on tap in Los Angeles, as noted in this space, as well.

For a list of new work received this month, please see our Editor’s Note.

David Cudar will return with a long-ish review next issue:  on what, I do not know, as yet!

As always, I do hope you enjoy the issue!

Daniel Lawless
Editor, Plume