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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