* listing with blaise cendrars

This week’s poem – “Chinks” by Blaise Cendrars – reminded me of an early lesson about list poems, namely how most poems can easily slip into lists. Whether it be a series of phrases, images, or movements, lists can sneak their way into poems, usually in threes (note how even in this sentence about lists there is a list of three within it!).

Mind you, there’s nothing inherently bad about this: usually it’ll happen naturally and have its own rhythm. Finding ways to subvert this human tendency towards *ahem* “listing” in a poem is always a challenge.

In the poem below, I was moved by the way Cendrars is able to create a pocket of human action between lists. The tension created between nature images and the speaker’s silence in the poem’s narrative adds energy to both.

* pieces, in *
* pieces, in *

Chinks – Blaise Cendrars

Sea vistas
Waterfalls
Trees long-haired with moss
Heavy rubbery glossy leaves
Glazed sun
High burnished heat
Glistening
I’ve stopped listening to the urgent voices of my friends discussing
The news that I brought from Paris
On both sides of the train close by or along the banks of
The distant valley
The forest is there watching me unsettling me enticing me like
a mummy’s mask
I watch back
Never the flicker of an eye.

translated by Dick Jones in qarrtsiluni

***

Happy watching!

Jose

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6 thoughts on “* listing with blaise cendrars

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