Accueil> Rencontre avec Iris Cushing

Rencontre avec Iris Cushing

Par |2020-07-07T18:55:55+02:00 5 avril 2012|Catégories : Iris Cushing, Rencontres|Mots-clés : |
Dear Iris.  Could you please tell us what your rela­tion­ship to lan­guage is through your poe­tic work ? Could you tell us how you connect with lan­guage through your poetry ?
Iris Cushing

Iris Cushing

This spring, I’m tea­ching a basic wri­ting class at a small col­lege here in Brooklyn, and it sud­den­ly occur­red to me one day how sim­ply ama­zing it is that lan­guage is the pri­ma­ry tool that we have to teach each other about lan­guage. When I’m tal­king about how to use a com­ma or an apos­trophe, I’m using com­mas and apos­trophes. I can’t think of any other sys­tem that works that way. When I’m making a poem, I try to stay very aware of not just what I’m saying, but what the limits of lan­guage will allow me to say. It’s very fun to come up against cer­tain limits, moments when I rea­lize “oh, I can’t say that, it doesn’t make sense,” and then find a way for it to make sense. The expe­rience of using words in that way feels very true to the sto­ries and emo­tions and images I’m crea­ting. All of my poems are based on things I’ve actual­ly expe­rien­ced ; I think my work as a poet is to find a way to trans­form per­so­nal expe­riences into ver­bal struc­tures that consti­tute a new kind of experience.


Iris Cushing
In the Boston Review, the cri­tic Katy Lederer wrote, about your poems : “Reading this work, I fell in love again with lan­guage. Not because it is beau­ti­ful or even par­ti­cu­lar­ly true, but rather because it trans­ports.” What are you loo­king for in poems ?
Like Katy, I can defi­ni­te­ly “fall in love” with trans­por­ting poems. When rea­ding, I get very exci­ted by poems that reach out­side of the nor­mal limits of what we consi­der a “poem,” what we consi­der “nor­mal usage” of things like parts of speech, names, and nar­ra­tives. I get exci­ted when a poem is so curious about its own limits that it risks com­plete fai­lure. When wri­ting, I guess I’m loo­king for that too, although I rea­lize that I’m not going to write in the same way as anyone else.
Could  you tell us some­thing about the mind of the splen­did and sur­pri­sing State Report ?
There are a lot of puns and ver­bal jokes that occur to me in unex­pec­ted moments, almost as if they are spo­ken to me by a voice coming from elsew­here. The poet Jack Spicer said some­thing about a poet being like a radio that picks up signals from outer space ; that per­fect­ly des­cribes where my puns come from. The idea to use “Wyoming” as a verb occur­red to me in just such a way. I had seve­ral dif­ferent ver­sions of the poem, and I even­tual­ly set­tled on this one as the “fini­shed” one. Something about the soli­tude and sense of lon­ging conveyed in the poem belon­ged with Wyoming, which can be a very soli­ta­ry, contem­pla­tive place.
You are a poet, and  also a  publi­sher of  Argos Books publi­shing. What about your publi­shing work ? What is the mind ? The way ? Could you ela­bo­rate on your work philosophy ?
My friend Elizabeth Clark Wessel and I star­ted Argos Books two years ago, because we both love books and wan­ted to be invol­ved with a com­mu­ni­ty of people who also love them. We have a third edi­tor, E.C. Belli, who is also a brilliant poet. I am a deep belie­ver in making more of wha­te­ver you love in the world. I love contem­po­ra­ry poe­try, espe­cial­ly inno­va­tive wri­ting that opens up new ques­tions about what’s pos­sible with lan­guage. It’s a thril­ling crea­tive expe­rience, rea­ding and choo­sing and put­ting toge­ther books. It just so hap­pens that most of the work we publish is by women.
To be a publi­sher as well as a poet, you must have a concep­tion of words, maybe of the world, too ?
There’s an aspect of publi­shing that’s all about busi­ness : mar­ke­ting, net­wor­king, and dis­tri­bu­ting your books. That part can feel very un-crea­tive and boring. I’m still in the pro­cess of lear­ning how I want Argos to “live” in the world, and I feel the same way about my own poems. The two endea­vors go hand-in-hand. The poet Anna Moschavakis once said that small-press publi­shing was like a “big col­la­bo­ra­tive art pro­ject”; I love thin­king of it that way.
The poet and trans­la­tor Jacques Burko said that to trans­late poe­try one must be a poet one­self.  Are you also trans­la­tor ? If so, what does trans­la­ting poe­try mean to you ?  Does it mean loyal­ty to the poem at start or allo­wing the pas­sage of a vision from one lan­guage to the other ?
I stu­died trans­la­tion while I was get­ting my Master’s degree at Columbia, and have trans­la­ted some poems from Spanish by Eugenia Brito and Marosa di Giorgio. Currently, Liz Clark Wessel (who is a trans­la­tor from Swedish) and I are co-edi­ting a maga­zine cal­led Circumference, which focuses on poe­try in trans­la­tion. So, trans­la­tion is some­thing that I care very dee­ply about. The best trans­la­tions, I believe, are done by people (poets or not) with an inti­mate unders­tan­ding of both the lan­guage they’re trans­la­ting from, and the spi­rit and inten­tion of the poem they’re wor­king with. I think being loyal to the lite­ral “mea­ning” of a poem means being true to the time, place, and situa­tion in which the poem was writ­ten, as well as to the poet who wrote it, which often­times leads a trans­la­tor away from word-for-word translation.
You publish artists’ books. There were a lot of artists books in France in the 20e cen­tu­ry, with René Char, Picasso, Miro… What is the pur­pose behind their limi­ted edition ?
What books and works of art have in com­mon is that they are both objects — they both have aes­the­tic consi­de­ra­tions that influence how a vie­wer or rea­der expe­riences them. It’s very satis­fying to me to make books that not only include visual art, but are consi­de­rate of the viewer/reader’s aes­the­tic expe­rience, that try to make it inter­es­ting in some way. I’m fas­ci­na­ted by the his­to­ry of artists’ books, and poets who have col­la­bo­ra­ted with artists in gene­ral. Actually, I find poe­try to be more like pain­ting than it is like other kinds of wri­ting — fic­tion, jour­na­lism, etc. A poem can be like a ver­bal pain­ting… I want the books I make to explore that.
At last, dear Iris : is there a poem which always goes with you ? Is there a poem which never leaves you ?
What a good ques­tion ! “The Proverbs of Hell” by William Blake is per­ma­nent­ly etched in my memo­ry. It’s not a poem exact­ly, but it was writ­ten by one of the grea­test poets ever, contains very beau­ti­ful lan­guage, and offers very use­ful advice, such as : “Think in the mor­ning. Act in the noon. Eat in the eve­ning. Sleep at night.”

Propos recueillis par Matthieu Baumier et Gwen Garnier-Duguy avec l’aide d’Asha Gopaul-Pfau

Présentation de l’auteur

Iris Cushing

Iris Marble Cushing was born in Tarzana, CA in 1983. She has recei­ved grants and awards for her work from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation, as well as a wri­ting resi­den­cy at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. Her poems have been publi­shed in the Boston Review, La Fovea, No, Dear, and other places. A col­la­bo­ra­tion with pho­to­gra­pher George Woodman, How a Picture Grows a World, was trans­la­ted into Italian and was the sub­ject of an exhi­bi­tion at Galeria Alessandro Bagnai in Florence, Italy. Iris lives in Brooklyn, where she works as an edi­tor for Argos Books and for Circumference : A jour­nal of poe­try in trans­la­tion.  

Iris Cushing

Poèmes choi­sis

Autres lec­tures


Gwen Garnier-Duguy

Gwen Garnier-Duguy publie ses pre­miers poèmes en 1995 dans la revue issue du sur­réa­lisme, Supérieur Inconnu, à laquelle il col­la­bore jusqu'en 2005.
En 2003, il par­ti­cipe au col­loque consa­cré au poète Patrice de La Tour du Pin au col­lège de France, y par­lant de la poé­tique de l'absence au cœur de La Quête de Joie.
Fasciné par la pein­ture de Roberto Mangú, il signe un roman sur son œuvre, "Nox", aux édi­tions le Grand Souffle.
2011 : "Danse sur le ter­ri­toire, amorce de la parole", édi­tions de l'Atlantique, pré­face de Michel Host, prix Goncourt 1986.
2014 : "Le Corps du Monde", édi­tions Corlevour, pré­fa­cé par Pascal Boulanger.
2015 : "La nuit phoe­nix", Recours au Poème édi­teurs, post­face de Jean Maison.
2018 : " Alphabétique d'aujourd'hui" édi­tions L'Atelier du Grand Tétras, dans la Collection Glyphes, avec une cou­ver­ture de Roberto Mangù (64 pages, 12 euros).
En mai 2012, il fonde avec Matthieu Baumier le maga­zine en ligne Recours au poème, exclu­si­ve­ment consa­cré à la poésie.
Il signe la pré­face à La Pierre Amour de Xavier Bordes, édi­tions Gallimard, col­lec­tion Poésie/​Gallimard, 2015.

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