It Then by Danielle Collobert
Reading notes by S. D. Stewart
Text is divided into three parts: (1) introduction of the body; trapped, isolation, orientation of the body within its container, ‘this restricted space’; somewhat recalls the experience of the creature in Beckett’s novel The Unnamable; (2) frustration at ‘useless waiting for healing’; ‘awaiting a word-cure’; (3) application of ‘word-cure’; transposing body into text, experience into words, culminating in the text (It then — migrated / transcribed).
The writing of the body, description of the visceral process of writing about (often painful) experiences, committing them to the page, these experiences of the body, the physicality of this process, and the incompatibility of fitting words to experience:
‘sometimes — a form
contradiction — to glide the body into word — trading
from blood to drawing
But also how the body cannot explain itself without words:
traded for articulation
‘a container of identity’
‘a place then — to dream up a place where identity happens’
‘It then — its breath — the story of words — the written
object — its rhythm — how it means to beat in speech — to
melt words to recognize there the edge of a body perhaps’
Collobert has a way of writing around experiences, of leaving the heart of them untold, but instead circling around them and probing at their edges. Implicit horror and violence pervade the text, and yet the use of the impersonal pronoun ‘it’ leaves a certain distance between the reader and the text, allowing one to touch the edges of the isolation and pain without fully absorbing it. A remarkable feat, and one which is reflective of the best that poetry can offer us.