Delirious Othering Details

Critics have noted the play in Nicole Brossard’s Amantes of délire and de lire.


There is an echo elsewhere in Amantes in a quotation from Italian in “ma continent”

“Non smettete di delirare, questo è il
momento de l’utopia”

In situ….

ma continent


my continent of spaces of reason and
(of love) like a history of space
where we can speak concretely
about allegiance and caresses in silence
a form of reverberation / i cut across
cities without simulating nature because
i’m so civilized before the sea
at flood tide, persistent / i read
“The whole sea goes toward the city”
and also in your language
“Non smettete di delirare, questo è il
momento de l’utopia”

my continent multiplied by those who have signed:
Djuna Barnes, Jane Bowles, Gertrude Stein, Natalie
Barney, Michèle Causse, Marie-Claire Blais, Jovette
Marchessault, Adrienne Rich, Mary Daly, Collette and
Virgina, the other drowned ones, Cristina Perri Rossi,
Louky Bersianik, Pol Pelletier, Maryvonne so attentive,
Monique Wittig, Sande Zeig, Anna d’Argentine, Kate
Millett, Jeanne d’Arc Jutras, Marie Lafleur, Jane Rule,
Renée Vivien, Romaine Brooks
to write: the real/the skin clairvoyant
pupil essential in the unfolding
of my consciousness and expression: my double
a singular mobility and the continent
indeed a joy


Notice the italicization of “expression” as it appears in Amantes, and in where Barbara Goddard’s translation as it appears in the Lesbiantics Issues of Fireweed 13 (1982) the word is italicized but the 1987 Guernica Editions Lovhers renders the word in plain typeface; the most recent version in Mobility of Light* (2009) restores the italicization.

Further details to notice in the textual transmission:
in Lovhers the “i” is in lower case after the slash and no space
“reverberation/i cut across”
in Fireweed the “i” is in majuscules and there is a space
“reverberation/ I cut across”
in Mobility of Light there is space before and after and minuscules
“a form of reverberation / i cut across”

*Mobility of light : the poetry of Nicole Brossard : a bilingual publication / selected with an introduction by Louise H. Forsyth ; and an afterword by Nicole Brossard.

Details that make us attentive to the “I read” which in English can be taken either as a present or past tense depending on how the words on the page are vocalized. The French gave us “J’ai lu / «Toute la mer va vers la ville»” — I have read. Which of course becomes funny in translation since the English words are given to convey a phrase read in French (and set off by quotation marks). But the Italian remains untranslated. Shouldn’t the French too?

at flood tide, persistent / i have read
“Toute la mer va vers la ville”
and also in your language
“Non smettete di delirare, questo è il
momento de l’utopia”

But why? Both are quotations. The French is from “Le Port” by Émile Verhaeren in Les Villes tentaculaires. The Italian is from Antonio Porta. Here again details arise — the difference marked by “r” or “t” — I have found two quotations of the Porta: which differ in the number of “you”

Non smettere (negative imperative second person singular)

Non smettete (negative imperative 2nd person plural)

I cannot immediately verify the Porta quotation which one source says appears in Antonio Porta, Tutte le poesie, p.147 (No copy is held in a library near me).

I am still struck by the irony of rendering anonymous the two male poets quoted in this paean to lesbian writers. The gesture seems hyper subversive.

N’arrêtez pas le délire, c’est le
moment de l’utopie

The addressee which introduces the Italian from Porta is singular marked by a second person singular possessive pronoun (ta langue) which opens up into possible plural in English (your tongue). Can we appeal to Japanese? The opening stanza of the poem “ma continent” contains a play on the Japanese word which is in French the first person possessive pronoun in the feminine gender. Note that the pronoun accords with the gender of the object and not that of the grammatical subject hence “ma continent” which plays with the Japanese term for “space”. What of “ta” in Japanese? 他 (rōmaji ta) : another, other, some other.


And so for day 2655

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