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  • Entangled—Papers!—Notesby Claude Mouchard
  • Michael Bishop
Claude Mouchard. Entangled—Papers!—Notes. Original texts with Mary Shaw's translations and introduction, preceded by " The Unrealizable" by Michel Deguy. New York: Contra Mundum Press, 2017. 251 pages. ISBN 978-1940625-25-6.

A book of poetry refusing its poeticity, ashamed to think itself other than mere traces, fragments, notes, offered as impossible unworthy testimony to an ageing bereft mother, to known, befriended immigrants come to a land so often undesiring of their presence, they themselves plunged into some barely conceivable stranded, insular existence, terribly reduced, minimal though desiring, a dream perhaps utterly "unreal-izable," as Deguy writes. A rare and beautiful book, yet. A poem, poems rather, of caring, giving, endeavoring, loving, unforgetting. And a book finely introduced and gently and firmly translated for Claude Mouchard by Mary Shaw, this, despite its many intrinsic and challenging complexities.

Entangled—Papers!—Notesis a courageous and determined book defying its author's ever resurgent doubts and visible high emotion, never overcoming them but incorporating them via a self-reflexivity that gives us the fullest sense of the great tensionalities lying at the heart of texts and notes lying fallow for years. It is a book that assumes its poeticity only in the worthiest way possible: as an act, long-weighed, long-refused, slowly acceded to as a pure but raw faire, doing, offered in the face of the silence that Mouchard feels haunts such poiein, such doing-making. It thus becomes a book written on the knife-edge of its very inscription. If its root substance is felt to be constantly undermined by language's incapacity to bethe trials and tribulations that have been lived and observed, its yet glimpsed horizon, its ultimate dreamedness, leaves us with testimony of the highest honesty, truth, and intensity. Claude Mouchard may believe that the livedness he so tentatively, yet caressingly, evokes must lack all beauty, all joy. And yet we see everywhere the hand that cares, gestures towards, seeks to touch the other, the lost, abandoned, desperately struggling other his actions and his writing never cease to embrace. And, for the reader, it is ever manifestly a hand that does indeed sense and know a deep intrinsic beauty at the very heart of the other, despite his or her veiled, raggedy, wretched trappings, and despite equally the intense misgivings wracking the mind and heart of the author.

Entangled—Papers!—Notesis, then, the poem of a deep empathy, a deep openness, a sensitivity and a preparedness to act, to do, to make—or seek somehow to make—whole, well, that which appears to be beyond retrieval and repair, beyond even, so it may seem at times, all contemplatable approach. This, this and not the poem-text itself, not any aesthetics arguably couching and mitigating grief and pain, is what makes Claude Mouchard's book a rare treasure. It is a rappel à l'humanité, a humanity lying potential, often sleeping, perhaps ignored even, within all of us faced with the often deeply dismaying plight of so many fellow citizens of the world, displaced, condemned to minima, material, physical, psychological, enough to break the spirit of anyone. The entanglement of which Claude Mouchard speaks is not essentially the clever entwining of a text evoking the challenges of the other and the text of the swarming emotions of the inscribing poet, an entwining thereby offering its finely [End Page 142]woven intricacies; it is, rather, beyond such niceties, the delicate, difficult, only half-feasible involvement of one man in the lives of various others, and, implicitly, beyond Claude Mouchard's own accepted, persistent entanglements, those that you and I may or may not embrace in any circumstance of similar or even far lesser magnitude.

Michael Bishop
Dalhousie University


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pp. 142-143
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