Putting unprecedented pressure on the line break, Emmanuel Hocquard’s obliquely interlaced poetic series, Conditions of Light, cracks open the façade of language to let a little light through—the glimmers are beyond definition, explication, or even, in a certain way, expression, yet they are, nonetheless, there. Building on his decades of attention to Wittgenstein, Hocquard has fused his interest in the philosophy of language with his dedication to the most elemental forms of experience in this sequence of quick, sharp, juxtaposed perceptions. Calm and alarming at the same time, they reveal the present moment in its eternal act of passage. 

The author of over twenty volumes of poetry, fiction, and inter-genre work, Emmanuel Hocquard has been key in the development of a “modernité négative,” a theoretically-driven literary concept that has done more than any other to shape French poetry since 1968. A rigorous reader in philosophy and linguistics, Hocquard has also been at the center of a number of poetry communities, as co-editor of the influential small press Orange Export, as director of the reading series at the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris, as director of the American wing of the group translation project at the Fondation Royaumont, and as the founder of “Un Bureau sur l’Atlantique,” an organization that fosters Franco-American poetic exchange. He was the co-editor, with Claude Royet-Journoud, of two anthologies of American poetry translated into French—21 +1 poètes américains and 49 + 1 poètes américains—and was the co-editor with Stacy Doris of the 1991 special issue of Tyuonyi titled The Violence of the White Page, which introduced many late 20th century French writers to an American readership for the first time. He is also the editor of the P.O.L anthology Tout le monde se resemble.

Translator Jean-Jacques Poucel is a critic, poet, translator, and professor. He taught for ten years in the French department at Yale University and currently teaches at the University of Calgary. From 2011 to 2012, he was a fellow at Internationales Kolleg Morphomata in Cologne, Germany, and in 2013 he was a visiting professor at Paris VII-Denis Diderot. The author of Jacques Roubaud and the Invention of Memory, co-editor of Pereckonings: Reading Georges Perec (Yale French Studies 105), and editor-at-large of the on-line journal Drunken Boat, he is a frequent resident in France, where he works with the French-American poetic collective Double Change.  

La Presse

Conditions of light     

Until the interlaced 
bodies reach the same 
temperature    Solution
of gestures and speeds   
What we are after   

There are no memories
The smell of burning reeds in 
the 40s that Sunday going
down the stairs   
Symmetrical photographs