Translating Translating Apollinaire:
A Preliminary Report
In the fall of 1977, bpNichol showed me some sections of Translating Translating Apollinaire, in part because we had discussed projects that both of us were working on that related to TTA 26. I proposed that we do two separate books, one of selections from TTA 26, and one for other parts of the work. It took us some time to work out what to use and how to reproduce it in print. The poems presented here are those that seem to make the transition to the web without problems.
During the time we were going through the manuscript, bp began asking people if they'd like to participate in TTA 29 (some had already participated in other sections, such as TTA 20). We intended this to be the first in a series of "reports," and bp included an invitation to participate in his introduction. We discussed a number of ways of including other participatory sections in further volumes, including the alter-and-pass-on and alter-and-return type familiar to people in the mailart network. We received several of the TTA 29 type before bp's death in 1988, and I have received several since then.
I doubt that many of bp's friends have fully come to terms with his absence, even after 8 years. I don't think I ever will. Perhaps cyberspace is precisely where the participatory sections should continue. Stay tuned.
May 27th 1975 en route from London England to Toronto with Gerry Gilbert (we'd both been at the 8th International Sound Poetry Festival) in a mood of dissatisfaction re certain aspects of my writing (always the feeling there is more one should be learning - more limitations one should be pushing against & breaking down) i began this present series. In my mind was the idea of a pure bit of research one in which the creativity would be entirely at the level of the research, of formal inventiveness, and not at the level of content per se i.e. i recalled the first poem i had ever had published -- Translating Apollnaire in Bill Bissett's BLEW OINTMENT magazine circa 1964 (i'd written the poem in summer 1963 during my first period in Toronto) - & decided to put that poem thru as many translation/ transformation processes as i & other people could think of. I conceived of it as an openended, probably unpublishable in its entirety, piece. As of this date (August 29, 1978) i have elaborated 55 different systems & or results with TTA 16, 26, 27, 29, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 41, 50, 54, 55 & some other tentative ideas still not fully executed. But it seemed a good point in time, particularly when Karl Young expressed his enthusiasm & support, to issue a preliminary report on discoveries made in terms of the results arrived at. Thus this present selection from the inevitably titled TRANSLATING TRANSLATING APOLLINAIRE.
The pieces included here begin with the three memory translations written over the atlantic ocean on May 27th. TTA 4 is the original poem as published in 1964 & all the pieces that follow are based on TTA 4. The title of the original poem comes from the fact that i was, during its writing, translating Apollinaire & the line "soleil cou coupe" comes from his poem, ZONE, the one i was working on. TTA 31 (unpublished here) includes elements from my 1963 translation.
In choosing the pieces for this preliminary report we excluded all the unfinished ones except TTA 29. We excluded those that were overly long (TTA 20, 21, 22 & 52) as well as the systems that were in any case summarized in TTA 51. TTA 23, 24 & 25 depended for their understanding on a familiarity with unpublished essays from my PROBABLE SYSTEMS series, & TTA 34 upon a knowledge of my NEGATIVES series, & could not be included here without extensive notes that would've made the size of the book unwieldy.
Hence, roughly speaking, this preliminary report. Other reports will be issued from time to time over the years as pieces are finished &/or opportunities to publish them become available. I'd like to particularly thank the writers included in TTA 29 for contributing their research results & both the three writers included in TTA, & the 24 not included here, that participated in the tests that form the basis for TTA 20 & 21. Any writer who wishes to submit a version of TTA 4 for inclusion in TTA 29 is invited to do so & can reach me c/o Membrane Press.
flat on'my back on the floor becoming aware of it for an instant "soleil cou coupé" rolls thru my window sun thru trees passing a million new wave movies driving thru the city
driving thru the city sun thru trees passing like a million new wave movies "Soleil cou coupé" rolls thru the window flat on my back on the floor becoming aware of it for an instant
"soleil cou coupé" flat on my back on the floor aware of it for an instant
Icharrus winging up Simon the Magician from Judea high in a tree, everyone reaching for the sun great towers of stone built by the Aztecs, tearing their hearts out to offer them, wet and beating mountains, cold wind, Macchu Piccu hiding in the sun unfound for centuries cars whizzing by, sun thru trees passing, a dozen new wave films, flickering on drivers' glasses flat on their backs in the grass a dozen bodies slowly turning brown sun glares off the pages, "soleil cou coupé", rolls in my window flat on my back on the floor becoming aware of it for an instant
a a a, an and aware Aztecs back backs beating becoming bodies, brown built by by cars centuries cold cou coupé dozen dozen drivers' everyone, films flat flat flickering floor for for, for from glares glasses, grass great, hearts hiding high Icharrus in in in in instant it Judea Macchu, Magician mountains my my, new of of off offer, on on on on out pages passing Piccu reaching rolls Simon slowly soleil stone sun sun sun sun tearing the the the, "the the the", the their their them thru to towers tree trees turning unfound up wave wet whizzing wind window winging
Aaaaaaaa aaaaaaa aa, aaaaa aaa aaaaaabb bbbb bbbcc cccc cc c cccc, ccccdddd ddddddde eee eee ee eeeee eeeeee ee eeeee eeeee ee eee eeeeeé, fffffff fffff ffffgg ggg gg ggggg gggg, ggh hhh hhhhhhh hhhhhhhhI, iiii iiii, iiiiii iiiii iiiiii ii iii iii iiiJkkk lll lllllllll lllM Mmmmmmmm mn, nnn nnnn nnnnn nnnnnnn, n nnnnn nnn nnnn nnnnn, nnnnnooooo oo ooooooo' ooooooo oooo oo ooooo ooPpp pp rrr rrrrr r rrrrr rrrrrr rrrrrr rrrrrSs sssss sss ssssss sss sss sssss, "sssstt ttt ttttt", ttttt tt tt tttttt tttt tt tu uuuu uu uuu uuuuu uuuvvvww wwwww ww ww wyy yy yyzzzzz
Idealism waffles up, Saber tab Macassar face Jaded hack if a tack. eardrums racially fad tag sad gable tables of sable based be tan Abated, tableau table habits oak to oaken tact, wan ace babbled machinery, cabs wade, Madden Paced hacked in tap sag unaided fan cacophony cafe waggling by, sap tags taboo package, a daddy nab wads fable, fabricated oh dabbing gadgets fact on tacit babes is tar gages a daily babies sables tablets backs sat gables odd tax pacer, "sacred cab cabin", rabid it ma wadded fade or me babe ox tea faced babyhood aback of if far an ideally
Daedalus air-planing upward, Simon the Mage out of Judea aloft within a timber, everybody extending to the orb of day grand turrets of rock made by the Aztecs, rending their vitals forth to proffer them, moist and pulsating peaks, chill draft, Macchu Piccu concealed by the daystar not a sign of it for ages automobiles zipping by, the lamp of day penetrating shade trees travelling, twelve young vibration motion pictures, fluttering on operators' spectacles recumbent on their dorsums on the lawn boxcars figures gradually changing tan the glorious lamp of heaven blares off the folio, "soleil cou coop", travels through my casement prostrate on my tergum on the deck getting to be cognizant of it for a moment
a a a, an by by in in in in it my, my of of on on on on to up and cou for for, for new off out sun sun sun, sun the the the, the the, the the wet back cars cold flat flat from high them thru, tree wave wind aware, backs brown built coupé dozen, dozen films floor grass great Judea offer pages Piccu rolls Simon stone their their trees Aztecs bodies glares hearts hiding Macchu slowly, "soleil towers window", beating drivers, glasses instant passing tearing turning unfound winging becoming everyone Icharrus Magician reaching whizzing centuries mountains flickering
achIrrsu ggiinnw pu, imnoS eht aacgiiMn fmor adeJu ghhi in a eert, eeenorvy aceghinr for eht nsu aegrt eortsw fo enost biltu by eht Acestz, aeginrt ehirt aehrst otu ot effor ehmt, etw adn abegint aimnnostu, cdlo dinw, acchMu cciPu dghiin in eht nsu dfnnouu for ceeinrstu acrs ghiinwzz by, nsu hrtu eerst aginpss, a denoz enw aevw films, cefgiiklnr no deirrsv' aeglsss aflt no ehirt abcks in eht agrss a denoz bdeios lloswy ginnrtu bnorw nsu aeglrs ffo eht aegps, "eillos cou céopu", llors in my dinoww aflt no my abck no eht floor bcegimno aaerw fo it for an ainnstt
hick or ass wan king cup, Samantha my chess yen front chew deo hyena tory, heavy Juan Gris chin guffaw earth son Greta hours office tone bill to buy Thea's texts, terrier hard stout two hover then, whet tongue bee sting mound stains, coal do in, my cool prick you high din Gunther's hum infant fur scent you trees coarse wheeze imbibes, un- true trespassing, adders in hue weave fill hums, full lick her ring under arrive hearse skull asses fool Aton the heir buxom digress add ozone bodice slow lead earning brow and sunk lair soft deep ages, "soil hay coo coop hey", roil sin mi win dough Phaedon may balk honda four beacon Inca wary fit foreign instinct
i cannot hear anymore reason remains unreachable sullen would i never gave in, never gave up, praying, simply, in my own name to Him each morning at Galilee i cannot invoke another name fear rises open mouthed Jesu! understand, deafness erases any hope i gained, 'here' is nowhere around the remaining essential emotions, essential values, everything, really, your own nullity exchanged, rise eastward against crosses hammered in new ground, for our rage, the hate every son uncovers. new grief rends each awareness, the tautologies open wide, eager reason surprising our false sympathies, taunts our numbed eardrums, bullies us i lie, terrified, by your thorned head effecting a zone that evil cannot slip thru entering a region interior no grace that'll hold ethereal i rise hungry expectant as Rafael told someone "ordinary usage teaches them only one fact - FEAR EATS REASON" to hear everything! my waiting eardrums tremble anew, nameless delicate breath explodes, a terrible inspiration now grips me omnivorous unexplainable (no truly available ideas (no substance)) could ordinary language display wisdom? ideation, naming, demands man's actual control. can he understand pure ideology's cryptic contortions, usurp Heraclitus's instinctual description, invent new gnostic inversions, new thots (hopefully), extending such unconscious nuances, unwritten novelties, forward - outside us? not deaf forever or (reacting, collecting examples, new theories) utter reasonable idiocies? examples: "some careful arguments reveal sympathies" "words hide in zygal zeugmas" i name gracefully but..... yet something's understood! new thots, half reasoned utterances, trace real expressions - Eliot seems passe among such surrealist instances. nova groupings, a dozen obscure zones explode, no nouns escape warping, word avenues, vague, emerge, focus, i learn much, seek further luminations, i can't know everything reeling, i now grasp onto nouns, deleted references, investigate verbs, explore radical syntaxes, glad, laughing, all signifiers signified, everything seems, finally, language, a theory of nominal tactics, Heraclitian expressiveness is renewed, but a carnal knowledge scissors it neatly, the head explodes, glittering reason's airy scent seduces a dozen Ovids. zero entropy no braincells operative didn't i expect such scorn? language opens worlds, little yields to unwilling readers, nothing is narcissistically gained. but reader or writer no simple unlocking gambit lets another reality exist sometimes our false fears terrorize hinder even partial acknowledgement given equal substance some other language emerges illuminates like chaos or unity can opens up peripheral elements reveals our love lacklove such inconsistencies nag maybe you wander in narrow deserted offices wishing for love, anxious, too overcome, numbed, maybe you become aware, concerned, know other names things have, elemental formulas, linguistic options or rehearse banal explanations, concealing or masking intense need - grief. a writer a reader extremes of function in the full operation reality's a noun it's not simply the awareness nothing's there.
ISe bt cu ctno fa scfbf civ uo on ahen I uoleo hme i lf rrw ad nuacr aor lo do su d to to rny tf u wr z gc ma r o f wn wtai oe looin utn be id hrvv mm aunn she yr n ieee rp gi e df ze r tb eém n tt ,o zsfs ho s"yas M hh r i i' ed , wt war ee M npl ii o baa ige m ac gamg re frarn nia A, ce ssl s focet gcc z cn bs,a b lk iih tw ht yi s as tl o nai ee uu ,nfs cl hsof gnn ct r gle ko e n g s Pi s,is sw i i u ,a ie u c l pntt p f n cs nak iy a h ,fo gtd mc e n gme rr re ou dr t ey o eab u oi tu s f mt are nh zn hr ,wl h tia ti eg en io Je nt ad n i "no u tgi ii gn sdr ds o n nn rg oo eu wtg sg a lw an eh , sb e re i sr i si n o l r w h o t n i fh h g e e h sa tr s i ot u n ns n e a o u t t r e e ,
, e e r t t u o a e n sn n u to i s rt as h e e g h hf i n t o h w r o n is l rs i er i bs , he na e a gs gtw ue oo gr nn n o sd rds ng ii igt u on" i n da tn eJ oi ne ge it ait h lw, rh nz hn era tm f s ut io u bae o ye t rd uo er rr emg n e cm dtg of, h a yi kan sc n f p ttnp l c u ei a, .u i i ws si,s iP s g n e ok elg r tc nng fosh lc sfn, uu ee ian o lt sa s iy th wt hii kl b a,sb nc z ccg tecof s lss ec ,A ain nrarf er gmag ca m egi aab o ii lpn M ee raw tw , de 'i i r hh M say"s oh sfsz o, tt n mée bt r ez fd e ig pr eeei n ry ehs nnua nn vvrh di eb ntu niool eo iatw nw f o r am cg z rw u ft ynr ot ot d us od ol roa rcaun da wrr fl i emh oelou l neha no ou vic fbfcs af ontc uc tb eSI
tnatsni na rof ti fo erawa gnimoceb roolf eht no kcab ym no talf wodniw ym ni sllor ,"èpuoc uoc lielos" ,segap eht ffo seralg nus nworb gninrut ylwols seidob nezod a ssarg eht ni skcab rieht no talf sessalg 'srevird no gnirekcilf ,smlif evaw wen nezod a ,gnissap seert urht nus ,yb gnizzihw srac seirutnec rof dnuofnu nus eht ni gnidih ucciP uhccaM ,dniw dloc ,sniatnuom gnitaeb dna tew ,meht reffo ot tuo straeh rieht gniraet ,scetzA eht yb tliub enots fo srewot taerg nus eht rof gnihcaer enoyreve .eert a ni hgih aeduJ morf naicigaM eht nomiS ,pu gnigniw surrahcI
ezo n gnird u hidi e c mountainn kan sc sg arg eht ni c u ei and beating , sb gninrut ylws si,s ip s, tearing the i s r ok elg r tc great towersi n o lielos" ,segap eh lc sfn, uu ee r w wodniw ym ni s lt sa s iy th wt hing for the sun o t n roolf eht no kl b a,sb nc z ccian from Judea hi fh h ti fo ecof s lss ec ,A aingin up, g e e as h tr s u to i n ns n e a o u t t r e e , tnrarf er gmag ca m egiwar e e m npl ii baatw , de 'i i r hh M tt ,o zsfs ho s"yasn mée bt r ez fd e she yr n ieee rp gi nnua nn vvrh di eb ntur o f wn wtai oe looinam cg z rw u ft ynrao r lo do su d to to rcaun da wrr fl i emhc iv uo on ahen l uoleofbfcs af ontc uc tb eSI
ISe bt cu ctno fa scfbfoelou l neha no ou vi chme i lf rrw ad nuacr ot ot d us od ol r oarny tf u wr z gc maniool eo iatw nw f o rutn be id hrvv nn aunn ig pr eeei n ry ehs e df ze r tb eém nsay"s oh sfsz o, tt M hh r i i' ed , wtaab o ii lpn m e e rawige m ac gamg re frarnt , e e r t t u o a e n sn n i ot u s rt h sa e e g ,pu gnignia A, ce ssl s foce of it h hf ih aeduJ morf naicc z cn bs,a b lk on the floor n t o nus eht rof gnih tw ht yi s as tl s in my window w r ee uu ,nfs cl he pages, "soleil o n isrewot taerg ct r gle ko r s i eht gniraet ,s pi s,is swly turning bs , gnitaeb dna ie u c in the gra gs cs nak nniatnuom c e idih u dring n oze
Icharrus furnished with wings, enabling him to fly or hasten (wounded in the wing, arm or shoulder) to or toward a higher place or degree; Simon the one skilled in magic (a conjurer), out of Judea, elevated far up indicating a present relation to time, space, condition, the indefinite article, meaning one perennial plant having trunk, bole, or woody stem with branches; all possible people stretching out their hands, straining after a conception, or to denote a particular person or luminous body round which earth and the other planets revolve. Large in size or number, long in time or duration, lofty, round or square structures proceeding from hard, earthy matter of which rock is made, the act or work of building them exercised through the agency of the Aztecs, pulling apart forcibly the possessive case of them, the hollow, muscular organs which make the blood circulate, on, at, or to, the outside, expressing motion towards, expressing purpose, to present for acceptance or refusal the objective & dative case of they (Old English thaem), full of moisture, together with a word that joins words, throbbing, dashing against (as waves, wind, etc.). High hills, wanting in heat, deficient in emotions, air in motion, the power of respiration, Macchu Piccu lying concealed in the sun, undiscovered during many periods of a hundred years. Vehicles on wheels making a hissing sound, as of an arrow flying thru air, in the neighbourhood of the sun going in at one side & out the other of the trees, dying, a group of twelve things of the same kind, not existing before, surges, movie show burning unsteadily, above & touching one who (or that which) drives, his spectacles. Prone on the upper or hinder part of their trunks in the herbage a dozen frames of human beings or animals at reduced speed convert into a darker colour inclining to red or yellow. Sun shines with a strong dazzling light away from the one side of a leaf of a book or manuscript, a line from Guillaume Apollinaire's Zone, drives forward with a swift & easy motion, turning over & over in an opening in the wall to admit air & light which belongs to me, usually covered with glass, flat on my back on the horizontal surface of the room upon which one walks, passing from one state to another, possessing knowledge of the neuter pronoun of the third person for a particular point of time.
Icharrus falling down, Simon the Magician not from Judea crouched under a tree, nobody reaching for the sun minute wallows of stone demolished by the Aztecs, mending their hearts in to solicit them, dry and dormant lowlands, not calm, Macchu Piccu revealed in the sun found for centuries cars creeping by, sun thru trees not passing, a dozen old wave films, fixed on drivers' glasses elevated on their fronts in the grass a dozen bodies swiftly remaining white sun darkens off the pages, "soleil cou coupé", stationary in my window elevated on my front on the floor becoming unaware of it for an instant
Copyright © 1979 by bpNichol, and used by permission of Eleanor Nichol.
from Translating Translating Appolinaire: A Preliminary Report, 1979, Membrane Press.
Light and Dust @ Grist Mobile Anthology of Poetry