On the 50th anniversary of its publication, The Song Cave is honored to publish the first English translation of Francis Ponge's Nioque of the Early-Spring. Ostensibly a book written to honor the season itself and the cycle of time, upon its release in France in May 1968, these notes took on a greater metaphorical meaning within this context, addressing the need for new beginnings and revolution. The book’s translator Jonathan Larson will be joined by Wayne Koestenbaum and Richard Sieburth for a discussion.
The discussion will begin at 6:30 PM.
“April is not always the cruelest month. In these stray notations dated early April 1950, Ponge provides a latter-day version of Stravinsky’s Sacre du printemps or of William Carlos Williams’ Spring and All—a vernal enactment of all the resurrectional energies of a springtime-to-come, as witnessed firsthand at the farmhouse of “La Fleurie” in southern France. When subsequently published in Tel Quel in May 1968, eighteen years later, Ponge’s rural, pastoral text now acquired a specific urban history and Utopianism, its Lucretian “Nioque,” or gnosis, now speaking to the gnomic revolutionary slogans of the Left Bank barricades: “Be realistic, demand the impossible,” “Beneath the cobblestones, the beach.” Jonathan Larson’s careful engagement with Ponge manages to seize what is most prosaic about his poetry—its fierce communism of the ordinary, its insistence that taking the part of things means taking words at their most etymological everydayness." —Richard Sieburth
“This startlingly fresh and necessary document of the 1950s by Francis Ponge comes to us via the all too rare feat of true poetic reenactment. Understanding that each poet creates language anew, Jonathan Larson has found a poetics suitable for the occasion of Ponge’s own poetic logic. In this rendering, Larson’s absolute care and attention to syllabic weight and measure, to the syntax and length of each line as it unwinds, allows us—as readers—to come into the drama of a text newly made, in other words, to discover a new poem in its very making. Yet, none of this comes at the cost of accuracy or through the subjugation of the original at the hands of one wielding the imperial language. This is no mean feat in this day and age and, by way of Larson’s exquisite ear, we are again given the poignancy and urgency of Ponge’s own moment.” —Ammiel Alcalay
Francis Ponge (1899-1988) was born in Montpellier, France, and is most famously the author of The Voice of Things (1942), Soap(1967), The Making of the Prairie (1971). During the Second World War, Ponge joined the French Resistance. He also worked for the National Committee of Journalists, and was literary and artistic director of the communist weekly newspaper L'Action. He left the Communist Party in 1947. From 1952 to 1967 he held a professorship at the Alliance Française in Paris, and was a visiting professor at Barnard College and Columbia University in the United States. Awards made to Ponge include the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Académie française's French National Poetry Prize, and the Grand prix of the Société des gens de lettres, and was a Commandeur of the Légion d'honneur. For the last 20 years of his life Ponge was reclusive, living at his country house in Le Bar-sur-Loup, where he died at the age of 89.
Wayne Koestenbaum has published nineteen books of poetry, criticism, and fiction, including Notes on Glaze, The Pink Trance Notebooks, My 1980s & Other Essays, Hotel Theory, Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, Andy Warhol, Humiliation, Jackie Under My Skin, and The Queen’s Throat (a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist). His newest book of poetry, Camp Marmalade, was published this spring. He has exhibited his paintings in solo shows at White Columns (New York), 356 Mission (L.A.), and the University of Kentucky Art Museum. His first piano/vocal record, Lounge Act, was released by Ugly Duckling Presse Records in 2017; he has given musical performances at The Kitchen, REDCAT, Centre Pompidou, The Walker Art Center, and the Renaissance Society. He is a Distinguished Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and French at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.
Richard Sieburth teaches at New York University. His previous versions of Henri Michaux include Emergences/Resurgences and Stroke by Stroke. He has also published translations from the French of Nostradamus, Maurice Scève, Louise Labé, Gérard de Nerval, Michel Leiris, Antonin Artaud, and Eugène Guillevic; and from the German of Oswald von Wolkenstein, Friedrich Hölderlin, Georg Büchner, Walter Benjamin, and Gershom Scholem. He has, in addition, edited a number of Ezra Pound’s works.
Jonathan Larson is a poet and translator. His translation of Francis Ponge's Nioque of the Early-Spring was published by The Song Cave and his translation of Friederike Mayröcker's Scardanelli is forthcoming from The Song Cave.
Hallie Bateman, Roz Chast, Glynnis Fawkes, and Emily Flake
Curated by Emma Allen and Sandeep Salter
April 6–June 5, 2018
Opening reception: April 6, 6–8 pm
Emma Allen in conversation with Hallie Bateman and Suzy Hopkins: April 10, 6–8 pm
In collaboration with Emma Allen, Cartoon Editor and Daily Shouts Editor at The New Yorker, Picture Room presents an exhibition of work by four of our favourite New Yorker Cartoonists: Hallie Bateman, Roz Chast, Glynnis Fawkes, and Emily Flake. Taking the theme of parenthood as a starting place, the show reveals the humour, complexity, sweetness and strangeness of the parent-child dynamic. A selection of original work from each artist, including sketchbook pages, New Yorker drafts, and pages from various esteemed publications, will be exhibited.
Emma Allen writes:
“When I was in high school, The New Yorker published a formative (for me) cartoon by Roz Chast with the phrase ‘WHEN MOMS DANCE’ across the top. Below, a teen girl sits on a couch, homework in her lap, and stares, aghast, at her shimmying, boogieing mother. "Stop," she begs. "You're hurting me." This was promptly clipped from the magazine and tacked to my kitchen cork-board—a kind of publicly posted peace treaty between my mother and me. A reminder that, if we managed not to kill each other before I headed off to college, we'd laugh at all this, eventually. Puberty plus time famously equals comedy, after all.
Later, as Cartoon Editor of The New Yorker, I learned that this scene had actually gone down between Roz and her kid. Not a huge surprise—the roles of mother and daughter, in my experience, are rife with comedic potential. And for whom more so than cartoonists and comic artists, whose job it is to mine the minutiae of everyday life, to find fodder in their relationships, in snippets of dialogue? Art about being a mother or a daughter has so often been relegated to the margins of any highbrow canon—it's incidental, it's women's work. But the incidental is the bread and butter of cartoonists, who are gimlet-eyed anthropologists, hoarders of poignant detail.
The works in this show are not all knee-slappers because, of course, there's a whole messy miasma of feelings that comes with spawning someone or being someone's spawn. There's the door-slamming frustration, the crippling fear, the cringing disgust, and even, sometimes, the searing love. One thing's for certain, though—if you're not throwing laughter into that mix, someone's going to get hurt.”
Roz Chast’s When Moms Dance cartoon serves as a benchmark for the show, capturing the nuanced interactions between parent and child that can lead to laughter, or tears. Roz Chast is a New Yorker cartoonist who first drew for the magazine in 1978. Known for her wide illustrative range, which spans from gag strips to children’s literature, Chast has received equally diverse honors, including the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities (2015), the National Book Critics’ Circle award for Autobiography (2014), and the New York City Literary Honor for Humor (2012). We will be showing three original cartoons by Chast, as well as a special textile work.
Also in the exhibition will be original gouache works from Hallie Bateman’s upcoming publication, What to Do When I'm Gone: A Mother's Wisdom to Her Daughter, which is launching the same week as Oh, Mother. The book serves as a premeditated how-to for Hallie when her mother, Suzy Hopkins passes away. Written by Hopkins and illustrated by Bateman, the publication masterfully combines heart-wrenchingly poignant moments, with matter of fact logistics and humour. Hallie Bateman’s drawings and writings have appeared regularly in The New Yorker since 2015, and are also published in such venues as The New York Times Magazine, The Awl, and Hyperallergic. On April 10th, Hallie and Suzy will join Emma Allen for a conversation here at Picture Room, to coincide with the book’s launch.
The show will also include original sketchbook pages and cartoons from Glynnis Fawkes' books Reign Of Crumbs and Greek Diary. Glynnis Fawkes is a cartoonist and archaeological illustrator living in Burlington, Vermont. Her Ignatz Award-nominated comics about her children’s daily exploits have appeared in The New Yorker since 2017. They also appear regularly on MuthaMagazine.com and are collected in Reign of Crumbs, published by Kilgore Books in 2017.
To complete the collection, we will present a series of cartoons by Emily Flake, published by The New Yorker. Emily Flake is a cartoonist, illustrator, and the creator of Lulu Eightball, a weekly strip that has run in alt-weeklies since 2002. She began drawing for The New Yorker in 2008 and has since published over a hundred cartoons in the magazine. Flake’s illustrations and cartoons have also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, MAD Magazine, The Globe and Mail, Newsweek, and The Nation, among other publications.