Peter Consenstein is a professor in the department of Modern Languages at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and spent three years as Chair of the Ph.D. program in French at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of Literary Memory, Consciousness, and The Group Oulipo (Rodopi, 2002), and he has written articles in academic journals on Oulipo members such as Jacques Roubaud and Raymond Queneau and on other contemporary writers, such as Anne Portugal, Michael Palmer, and Tom Raworth.
Dominique Fourcade is the author of seventeen full-length books of poetry, most of them published by the influential publisher of contemporary experimental literature, P.O.L. He has also published numerous chapbooks and collaborations with visual artists, many with the fine press publisher Michel Chandeigne. He was awarded the Grand Prix National de Poésie in 1996. He is also active in the world of 20th century art and has written extensively on Henri Matisse, Simon Hantaï, Pierre Buraglio, and others. He regularly contributes to exhibition catalogues, including that for the American sculptor David Smith at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Other volumes of Fourcade’s poetry available in English include Xbo (Sun & Moon, trans. Robert Kocik,1993), Click-Rose (Sun & Moon, trans. Keith Waldrop, 1996), and Everything Happens (Post-Apollo Press, trans. Stacy Doris, 2000). Fourcade was born in Paris, where he currently lives.
In French, ‘il,’ the third person masculine singular pronoun, can also have no gender at all: il pleut means ‘it’s raining.’ In Dominique Fourcade’s IL, ‘il’ means ‘it,’ but not exactly. The genderless ‘il’ is the man-woman, the woman-man, the place where we are each other and, in lieu of exploiting difference, the poet allows the sonority of the word to generate the curious masculine-feminine dialogue we all hear within us, if we listen.
this IT which is the figure of the poem, the figure of detachment
the figure of speech, that in essence goes too far
the form itself of the other which i miss the most
and it’s when i’m closest that i miss it the most
there, right up against it
or is it me the forever detached
and not the other
this IT where are silhouetting all at once threshold, breakthrough and presence (speech)
this T which is in IT like in outrance and in other and in utterance
ringing magnificently right where it is
and no phrase says what it is
which is in HIM but he is in her - and even in her, although much closer he lives far from the other
this pointed at
lost alive in her
this IT the body of a lightbulb