Artaud & Jacques Rivièreère

from the latest installment on Artaud at Jacket2:

“Still, by arguing for an enactment of a fractured mental state, Artaud is making a case for modernism. These letters, then, along with the poem “Cri,” all of which were eventually published in the Nouvelle Revue Française, are a tremendous set of cultural artifacts. The Romantic ideal is based on assumptions of, to borrow from Delaney again, “the unproblematic transparency between life and language, presentation and representation, intention and effect, and our ability to locate and respond to the ‘parts’ of themselves, as well as a psychological autonomy and a psychological malleability to the subject represented that flies in the face of practically any materialist critique.”[6] Artaud’s work—Artaud’s life—is an attempt to infuse language with the unrealized aspects of life—with the bodily experience of fragmentation.”

Antonin Artaud’s First Years in Paris


Photo: Édouard Toulouse, editor of Demain


From the latest Artaud installment:

A handful of Artaud’s poems were published in Demain including “Night,” which appeared in the issue pictured above, in 1921. In this poem we glimpse a bit of the journal’s ethos, including the advice to approach reading and ideas slowly, a sentiment which Bernard Baillaud situates in opposition “to the rapid reading speed imposed on [the reader]. Far from representing a constraint or form of self-censorship tending to force a choice among the headlines, this method allowed for everything to be read.” Reader as flaneur as slow movement advocate. In “Night,” Artaud declares:

Poet, those things preying on your mind
Have nothing to do with the moon,
The rain is cool
the belly is good.

Deep down in the swollen sheets
Where the whole night breathes,
The poet feels his hair
Proliferate and grow.[4]

Here the poet relishes in the body and pleasure. The slow accretion of time becomes the subject of observation. Imagine how much you’d have to slow down your focus to feel your hair growing. For the review, this calculated pacing was a protection against “hasty and excessive information, from too much empty documentation, and from futility in all walks of life.”[5]

Marcus Slease’s Rides

Rides by Marcus Slease

Blart Books, 2014, 7£

ISBN: 978-1-291-92338-4


Marcus Slease’s eighth book, Rides, chronicles train trips to and from points around the UK. The poems read like automatic writing; take, for example, “these long / commutes / are killing me / how about / a little funk / & energy / OK / I like this Siberian / ginseng” and “I’m sitting next / to a bald / headed baby / everybody / on this train / needs a neck rub.” His sentences and fragments fuse memories, observations, and fantastical statements, such as “we live in a tin can / in spring the bees come,” into one extended monologue. The poems are conversational and informal; there’s no punctuation or sentence-level capitalization. There is a lot of humor in the book and a wildness that creates the effect of a voyeuristic dreamscape. The reader observes the ticker-tape of the speaker’s thoughts, and these thoughts are anything but mundane.

The poems come in pairs, that is, there’s a poem called, “On a Train to Brighton Sitting Backwards” as well as one on the next page called, “On a Train from Brighton Sitting Forwards.” London sits silently in the center of the book, and the path to each of the destinations forms a sunburst on the map. Fitting, since the last page has only two words: “the flowers.”

In an artist’s statement on H_NGM_N, Slease indicates that some of the trips are imagined, and the train rides work as a frame. This metaphor makes a lot of sense, considering the last poem is on page 74 while the numbered pages continue, blank, until page 80. What I assume is a printing error in fact extends the overall concept of the book because the poems mimic movement; these poems are a series of train cars moving out of frame before you can get to them all.




Antonin Artaud’s Early Years


This post at Jacket2 covers Artaud’s birth in Marseilles in 1896 through his move to Paris in 1920.

“When biographers trace the trauma in Artaud’s early life, they’re attempting to explain the suffering that shows up in Artaud’s prose.”


Antonin Artaud’s Hyper-Negation

Watchfiends_Rackscreams_and Bettina Knapp

The second installment in a three-month commentary column for Jacket2 is up. Here’s an excerpt:

“The  poem ‘Cry,’ published in 1925, begins
The little celestial poet
Opens the shutters of his heart,
The skies collide. Lethe
Uproots the symphony.

Here, in some of his earliest work, Artaud introduces the idea of doubling. The skies are multiple; the poet is simultaneously within the sky, of the sky, and he collides with the sky. He is both contents and container. Or rather, the sky collides with what’s inside the celestial poet’s heart. The external sky crashes into his internal sky. Whatever lyric is left becomes uprooted, ungrounded, dislocated by oblivion. Artaud’s work documents his own void. His work is a hyper-negation. It’s full of paradox and contradiction because he’s attempting to communicate what cannot be put into words. The abyss is a negative property.”