Pushcart XL: Nicole Brossard, “A Tilt in the Wondering” (poetry excerpt) from Vallum

my best buy of the year is an alarming creativity
a new concept for management so business becomes
a cute gentle occupation
almost a must for you and me to be creative so
everyone take part in the nyou wealth
I left the office I left the bar with non-written words
just excitement sur le voile du palais

I’m usually way over my head with poetry, some times more than others, like now. So I’ll just blather. I see someone, someone with a poet inside, who’s working perhaps in marketing, getting out of the business world, shedding it like a skin, feeling good to be back to her natural form. Excitement on the palate: ready to taste what is real, what is alive. And there’s a change, not only in scenery, but in language and emphasis. Now, this probably is not at all what’s happening. It’s more likely that nothing’s “happening” in the poem, it’s not a narrative at all, but this is what comes to me as I read it.

Again, I wish a piece was online, since I can’t possibly do it justice. It’s an excerpt from a single poem, published in chapbook form. Brossard typically writes in French, so most of her readings on youtube are in French. An exception is the Pennsound clip of a conversation with Charles Bernstein, which is about half and half, and has nothing to do with poetry but with her impression of regional French accents within the New World, that is, Haitian French vs New Orleans French vs her native Québécois French. What makes it an interesting inclusion here is the camera angle, clipped above: Brossard is literally atilt in the wondering.

After leaving work, it seems we have a movie:

saw only 5 seconds of the kneeled woman about
to be throat cut by a male, saw a line of blood
from left to right on the neck
did not want to find out if it was true.
Suspect it was true. Could not watch. Would with one touch
of the finger on the screen not see IF IT WAS REAL real if it was
                                                                                               not REAL

At this point I have to wonder: why is it crime if the woman’s throat is cut on the street, and entertainment if it’s cut on the screen? A few months ago, I read a think-piece about the prevalence of violence against women in tv shows and movies. Although I’ve often enjoyed the original Law & Order and find the Criminal Intent spin-off fascinating, I’ve never paid much attention to the SVU part of the franchise, which, oddly, seems to be the most popular. Is that because, while the first two feature a blend of victims and evil motivations from greed to power to lust to jealousy to pain, SVU focuses on rapes, sadistic murders, and child abuse, its victims almost always women and children? I go back to last year’s essay by Pacifique Irankunda, “Playing at Violence,” and again wonder the hell is wrong with us.

Of course, Brossard may have something completely different in mind

half-way through the book
time came back with a question a trace
a spiral ready to expand meaning
a tilt in the wondering
how do you remove time from
meaning so meaning grows roots
in sound to exist beyond sounds

And that’s for me the mystery: are we talking about the wondering being tilted – “a tilt in the wondering” – or are we atilt within the wondering? The orthography declares a preference. I think I prefer the camera’s opinion.