Genet Redux

My review of Chris Tysh’s creative translation Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic (Les Figues, 2013) was published today in Hyperallergic Weekend.

Here are two excerpted paragraphs:

In an online interview about her conceptual trilogy Hotel des Archives, of which Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic is the second installment (her rendering of Beckett into verse tercets, Molloy: The Flip Side, appeared in 2012), Tysh said, “I extend the concept of translation toward what we might call a transcreation, or a transcultural dialogue….In this type of relational poetics, I try to maintain the narrative spaces and affects, while finding a new set of porous networks – lyrical trajectories that pass through various signposts of the text.” Tysh’s “transcreation,” in the words of Les Figues’ press release, entails a “compressing” of Genet’s text into “cuttingly charged verse.”

Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic is an “exercise in style” in the strongest, Queneauian sense of the phrase; Raymond Queneau’s Exercices de style [Exercises in Style] (1947 / 1958) retells the same short anecdote 99 different times in such styles as “litotes,” “metaphorically,” “couplets,” “cockney,” and “sonnet.” In Queneau’s work, the original story seems epiphenomenal to the production of its proliferating versions (Barbara Wright, Queneau’s English translator, remarks that “the story as such doesn’t matter.”) But Tysh’s choice of Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers for her restyling is not arbitrary: it is a text that, like its protagonist, tends toward “being multiple.” Indeed, in Our Lady of the Flowers, Genet writes of a “hundred Jean Genets,” and Tysh has given us a provocative glimpse of one of them through her bold, kaleidoscopic verse. Once complete, Tysh’s Hotel des Archives will no doubt constitute one of the most significant exercises in style of the early twenty-first century.


~ by Michael Leong on June 15, 2014.

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