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The Flirt Formula

Anne Portugal, translated by Jean-Jacques Poucel | July 24, 2012

The poems go two by two across facing pages, where they press against each other, connect, and go forth in a tremulous manifesto. The result is a syntactical vertigo poised above nothingness. The halves meet only in an instant, suggesting that the crux of poetry is the art of not quite touching.

Anne Portugal’s first collection, La licence qu'on appelle autrement parrhésie, was published in the collective Cahier de poésie 3 by Éditions Gallimard in 1980. Since then she has published several texts with the well-known publisher of the experimental, P.O.L., including Les commodités d'une banquette (1985), De quoi faire un mur (1987), Le plus simple appareil (1992), translated into English by Norma Cole and published under the title Nude by Kelsey St. Press in 2001, Dans la reproduction en deux parties égales des plantes et des animaux (1999) and définitif bob (2002), which was translated by Jennifer Moxley and published under the title absolute bob by Burning Deck Press. Burning Deck has also published a chapbook, Quisit Moment (2008), translated by Rosmarie Waldrop. Portugal is a prodigious traveler has represented France in numerous international conferences and festivals, such as those in China, Norway, Poland, the United States, and Korea. Born in Angers, France in 1949, she lives and teaches in Paris.Jean-Jacques Poucel is a scholar of French poetry and comparative poetics. His first critical book, Jacques Roubaud and the Invention of Memory was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2006; he has also published poems (in READ, 2007, 2008, 2010), and co-edited two collections of critical essays, Pereckonings: Reading Georges Perec (Yale French Studies, 105) and Constraint Writing I & II (Poetics Today, 30.4 [2009] & 31.1 [2010]). He co-coordinates the Whitney Humanity Center’s “Working Group in Contemporary Poetics” at Yale University, serves as a contributing editor for Drunken Boat, and is a member of Double Change, an international collective working with French and American poetry and its dissemination through translation and public readings. He has also translated prose and poetry by Sabine Macher, Jacques Roubaud, Jean-Michel Espitalier, Sébastien Smirou, Rob Halpern, and Nancy Kuhl. His translation of Emmanuel Hocquard’s book Conditions of Light was published by La Presse in 2010.