Winter 2002/2003

O Cidadán

O Cidadán

Erín Moure

Anansi Press ($12.95)

by Laura Mullen

The system of beauty-our little gamine-is about to crash. -from "Georgette"

The Canadian poet Erín Moure's new book is so brave, has so much truly lively wit, and is so completely fresh it makes a lot of contemporary American poetry look like dorm furniture from Target: instantly charming and easy to discard. But...seriously. In her twelfth book, Moure sets a wise and politically well-informed playfulness to the very serious task of opening spaces to speak from, to be human in, and from which to recognize the humanity of others. Seriously, Moure-as she notes of Clarice Lispector-"does not construct her reader as a receptacle of authorial direct speech but engages readers in the word's enactment / folding" and the effort to "speak in the difficult tongue." Seriously, starting with its title (which begins the work of finding out the complicated site of a feminine "citizen"), the book is on a headlong, headstrong, career: intersecting language at angles that widen its freedoms and set in motion new possibilities.

Rapture as rupture, O Cidadán is a polyphonic echo chamber in which desire(s) for truth make crucial an intertextual and necessarily on-going effort extended over time. Starting where love 'bursts' a failure to hear, the book proceeds by that careful and wild-that conscious and ecstatic-emphasis on sensation, understanding, and memory which is so characteristic of Moure's writing. Inside and outside are, as always, at issue-but the poet has never pressed so hard at the limits of language and world for the fullest communication. Images, diagrams and disappearing fonts, screen or screamplays, strike-outs, and re(re)iterations are all put to the arduous/ardorous task of arriving at a knowledge which is subject to an ethical accountability and open to revision. "A kind of movement, then, lisp-ecto-real. // Which beckons the whole notion of 'outside' into the field of inquiry and unseats it." Here an ongoing process produces deep pages: layers of thinking and thinking again make for a radically dialogic text in which the author's words and the thoughts of other writers are in conversation and community. Here poetry becomes a place wide as the world, where anything can happen and everything is passionately considered. Here, where the relation of word to word and human to human is challenged, an open self finds out its otherness:

To persist
somatic coalesce does imbue a fetter
wherein "I am" reiteration's frank motel

which is a fold or distal not proximal
carina vaginae whose "the shudder" lies

that thing drawn 'cross us like
a scar or want         is "us"

falls homily             to iterate is to endure
                                "us" only visible as the frame delects

a change or mitt in these "conditions"
is my homily

Possible's believer         conjures belief
field guns or gone (could not read over her shoulder)

behold-en

election obéissance crowd assault

As she goes "beyond measure," slipping past or shattering the borders of forms, names, languages, national boundaries, and genres, Moure brings to and from her wide travels an exemplary presence, challenging our understanding of difference and putting all totalities in question. In the very serious play of the poet our doubts become us, our silences speak, and hesitation becomes eloquent, as we attempt to echolocate identities and a citizenship outside the destroyed horizon of nation or country, aiming at discovering our largest human rights.

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Winter 2002/2003 Table of Contents