Avant Desire: A Nicole Brossard Reader
About the Book
"[L]yrical descriptions of lesbian desire coupled with a continued meditation on language. Brossard conflates writing with lovemaking […] the poems forming a grammar of desire, like a diagrammed body."— Kate Zambreno, The Believer
"[T]he nearly hundred poems in Ardour appear as fragments, but their brevity belies their breadth. [...] I feel saved by their intimacy, partly owing to their diminutive size: they feel like whispered truths, or at least consolations." — Nicole Rudick, The Paris Review
In June 2019, Nicole Brossard was awarded the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Poetry Trust. Rarely has a prize been so richly deserved. For five decades she has writing ground-breaking poetry, fiction, and criticism in French that has always been steadfastly and unashamedly feminist and lesbian.
Avant Desire moves through Brossard’s body of work with a playful attentiveness to its ongoing lines of inquiry. Like her work, this reader moves beyond conventional textual material to include ephemera, interviews, marginalia, lectures, and more. Just as Brossard foregrounds collaboration, this book includes new translations alongside canonical ones and intertextual and responsive work from a variety of artist translators at various stages of their careers.
Through their selections, the editors trace Brossard’s fusion of lesbian feminist desire with innovation, experimentation, and activism, emphasizing the more overtly political nature of her early work and its transition into performative thinking.
Devotees of Brossard will be invigorated by the range of previously unavailable materials included here, while new readings will find a thread of inquiry that is more than a mere introduction to her complex body of work. Avant Desire situates Brossard’s thinking across her oeuvre as that of a writer whose sights are always cast toward the horizon.
About the Book
The definitive survey of an essential feminist poet.
Nicole Brossard was born in Montréal in 1943. Twice Governor General’s Award winner for her poetry, she has published more than thirty books since 1965. Many have been translated into English: Mauve Desert, The Aerial Letter, Picture Theory, Lovhers, Baroque at Dawn, The Blue Books, Installations, Museum of Bone and Water, Fluid Arguments, Notebook of roses and civilization and White Piano. She has co-founded and co-directed the literary magazine La Barre du Jour (1965-1975), co-directed the film Some American Feminists (1976), and co-edited the acclaimed Anthologie de la poésie des femmes au Québec (1991 and 2003).
She is an officer of the Order of Canada, chevalière of the National Order of Quebec, and a member of l’Académie des lettres du Québec. She has twice won the Trois-Rivières International Poetry Festival Grand Prix Québecor (1989 and 1999). In 1991 she was awarded le Prix Athanase-David (the highest literary recognition in Québec). Her work has been widely translated into English and Spanish and is also available in many other languages, including German, Italian, Japanese, Slovenian, Romanian, Norwegian, Catalan, and Portuguese. Two anthologies of her work in English have appeared: Selections: the poetry of Nicole Brossard (2010) and Mobility of Light (2009), with another planned for publication in 2020.
Nicole has been awarded le Prix international de la littérature francophone Benjamin Fondane, le Prix du CIÉF for International Francophone Studies, the W.O. Mitchell Prize, and the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize. In 2015, she was included in the dictionary Le Petit Robert des noms propres. In 2018, she was the recipient of the first Violet Prize awarded by the Blue Metropolis Festival. Mauve Desert has been presented as a multidisciplinary creation in 2018 and is slated for an opera adaptation in 2020-21.
In 2019, an anthology of her poetry in Portuguese and a translation of Mauve Desert in Catalan will be published. Her most recent book in English is an art chapbook titled A Cappella with illustrations by Mauricio Corteletti, translated by Erín Moure and Robert Majzels.