Wednesday Sep 20

DraciusSuzanne Suzanne Dracius was born in Fort-de-France and grew up in Sceaux, a suburb of Paris, where she spent her adolescence. She later returned to Martinique, where she now resides. A writer and former professor of Classics graduate of the Sorbonne, both in France and also at the Université Antilles-Guyane, Dracius is the author of novels, short stories, poetry and plays.  In 1989, she published her first novel, L’autre qui danse, finalist for the Prix du Premier Roman (Seghers; Editions du Rocher 2007). Dracius has written two short stories that have been anthologized in American classroom collections of literature in French from beyond l’Hexagone, “La Montagne de Feu” and “La Virago”(Houghton-Mifflin). Both stories, which feature strong, rebellious women characters, have been published in her expanded collection of stories, Rue Monte au Ciel (Desnel Press, Fort-de-France, Martinique, 2003).
In 2005, Dracius published a play, Lumina Sophie dite Surprise (Desnel), and in 2008 she published her first collection of poems, Exquise déréliction métisse (Desnel), which won the Prix Fetkann.  In 2010, Dracius won a Prix de la Société des Poètes Français (Prize of the Society of the French Poets).
Currently, Dracius is FFRI (France-Florida Research Institute) Visiting Professor in February 2012.
 
CarlsonNancyNaomi Nancy Naomi Carlson has published poetry in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, and The Southern Review, and work is forthcoming in The Georgia Review.  Her translations have been published in Agni, Arts & Letters, Circumference, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Guernica Magazine, Interim, The Marlboro Review, Poetry International, Puerto del Sol, Sycamore Review, Third Coast, and West Branch. Stone Lyre: Poems of René Char, her book of translations, was released in 2010 from Tupelo Press. Her collection of poetry, Kings Highway, won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House competition, and Complications of the Heart won the Texas Review Press’ Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize. Imperfect Seal of Lips was selected for the Tennessee Chapbook Prize. Awarded a grant from the Maryland Arts Commission, she is an instructor at the Bethesda Writer’s Center and an editor for Tupelo Press.
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 Prosopopée urbaine: Bellevue
 Aux mânes créoles d'Henri Guédon
 

Je me nomme Bellevue et je pleure.
Bellevue tambour,
congos,
bongo,
maracas !
Je me nomme Bellevue et je veille,
je me nomme Bellevue et j'accueille
le fruit de mes entrailles,
Henri,
masque yoruba
qui en mon giron planta
l'Arbre de la Liberté.
Je me nomme Bellevue et j'effeuille
partitions et dessins de lui :
synesthésies de pure Beauté.
 
Bellevue — quartier de Fort-de-France où vécut Henri Guédon —,  12 février 2006
 


 
Urban Prosopopoeia
To the Creole Manes of Henri Guédon


I call myself Bellevue and I weep.
Bellevue drums,
congos,
bongo,
maracas!
I call myself Bellevue and I keep watch.
I call myself Bellevue and I receive
the fruit of my womb,
Henri,
yoruba mask
who planted in my breast
the Tree of Liberty.
I call myself Bellevue and I pluck
his designs and musical scores:
synesthesias of sheer Beauty.
 
Bellevue—quarter in Fort-de-France  where Henri Guédon lived, February 12, 2006
 
Translator’s note: Henri Guédon was a Martiniquan percussionist, painter and sculptor who died on February 12, 2006 in Paris, France after heart surgery.
 




Subnigra sum sed formosa


Te susurrerai-je en douceur que le cafard
N’a pas droit de cité sur ces bords,
Que, furtif, le ravet se faufile
En ces touffeurs enténébrées ?
Tu ne peux pas avoir le cafard,
Tu ne peux avoir que le ravet.
Puisses-tu, s’il te tient, le tenir,
D’une semelle leste l’écraser :
Tu prends une odeur de whisky — remugles de mauvais alcool
Ni Black Label ni Red Label ni noble bourbon.
 
Fors le traumatisme d’abandon,
Le non-regard,
L’oubli de ton nom
— Ni label black ni aristocratique Bourbon avec un B majuscule —,
La preste déréliction émergeant de cette piètre eau-de-vie
Aux nauséabonds effluves de musc et de ravet pilé,
De cafard écrabouillé,
De cancrelat écrasé,
De blatte éventrée, étripée,
En être que l’on n’a pas reconnu
Tu ne te reconnais pas non plus.
Mais tu ne peux avoir le cafard,
Tu ne peux avoir qu’un ravet caribéen
ou une québécoise coquerelle
en kafkaïenne métamorphose.
 
Monte, incantatoire, ta complainte :
Nigra sum sed formosa.
« Je suis noire, mais belle », dixit la Reine de Saba.
Quid de qui n’est que subnigra ?
Qu’y a-t-il en-dessous de nigra ?
Tu quémandes le regard de l’Autre
— Mais de quel Autre, au demeurant ? —
Pour appréhender que tu existes,
Piler le ravet d’un pied ferme,
Piler le ravet jusqu’au terme,
En ton métissage avancer.
Que monte, ô victoire, ton cantique :
Subnigra sum sed formosa.
 
 

 
Subnigra Sum Sed Formosa


Will I whisper gently that the cockroach
Has no place on these shores,
That stealthy, the “ravet” weaves
In and out of this shadowed sweltering heat?
You can’t get the blues.
You can only get the reggae-blues.
If it holds you, may you hold it,
Mash it with a nimble sole:
You smell whiskey—stale odor of bad alcohol,
Neither Black Label nor Red Label nor noble bourbon.
 
Except for the trauma of neglect,
Lack of eye contact,
Forgetting your name—
Neither “black” label nor aristocratic Bourbon with a capital “B”—
The prompt dereliction rising up from this paltry eau-de-vie
With sickening smell of musk and crushed “ravet,”
Squashed cockroach,
Crunched waterbug,
Gutted and gored cucaracha,
A being who couldn’t be recognized,
You don’t even recognize yourself.
But you can’t get the blues,
You can only get the Caribbean blues
Or the blues from Quebec—
Metamorphosis that’s Kafkaesque.
 
Incantatory, your lament ascends:
Nigra sum sed formosa.
“I am black, but beautiful,” dixit the Queen of Sheba.
What about those who are only subnigra?
What is there below nigra?
You beg for respect from the Other—
But which Other, for all that?—
To comprehend that you exist,
Crush the “ravet” with resolve,
Crush the “ravet” to the end,
Affirm your mixed descent.
O victory, let your song of songs ascend:
Subnigra sum sed formosa.
 

Translator’s note: “Ravet” is the Creole word for “cockroach.” In French, “avoir le cafard” means to have the blues. There is no such equivalent in Creole.



Urgentes turbulences
For June et Adlai Murdoch
 

Ô île mienne
Si feu que rien
Love presqu’île tienne
Si tant que bien
S’étend
S’y tend
 
Que longtemps tiennes
Et tant et tant
Pas comme antan
Esquif esquive en volcanisme
 
Vénus et Vulcain crachent et crochent
Vénus et Mars cravachent et triment
Prends bons coups de trique
 
Ogoun Ferraille somme mais consomme
En aporie
En apnée
En empathie an pati : je suis partie !
 
Dure résolument sois parjure
Je t’en adjure
Que toujours dure
L’assentiment !
 
Foule
On se défoule
Folle quand t’affole
Frôle mais cajole
Crypte hypocrite
En sondes l’ombrage ombrageux
Mont de Vénus patat lonbraj perce
Puis dépèce
Tance somnolences
Exprès expresse
Ta turbulente turgescence
                                                                            Haut-Didier, 2004
 
 


Urgent Turbulences
For June and Adlai Murdoch


O island of mine
Smaller than a spark
Your peninsula makes love
So much and so well
Extends
Expands
 
Long may you last
And so much and so much
Not as in bygone days
Skiff evade the volcano’s rage
 
Venus and Vulcan hawk and hook
Venus and Mars whip and overwork
You endure hard hits
 
Ogoun Ferraille summons but consummates
In aporia
In apnea
In empathy an pati : I was transported with pleasure !
 
Hard resolutely be untrue
I implore you
That our hard-earned assent
Will endure !
 
Crowd
Everybody’s rowdy
Crazy when I daze
Graze but cajole
Hypocritical crypt
You probe its shy shadows
Mound of Venus patat lonbraj drill
Then cut
Rebuke drowsiness
Take care to encrypt
Your turbulent turgescence
                                                                               Haut-Didier, 2004