Denis Roche (1937-2015)


Oh, Denis has called it splitsville! Sadness, a drag — A bright, witty, generous man, sharp as a tack — & absolutely not known enough here in the US. Roche, who started in the surrounds of Tel Quel, is a major writer, an excellent translator (some of Pound’s Cantos, ee cummings, etc.) & photographer. He is also the founding editor of Fiction & Co, one of the very best & most eclectic book series (at Le Seuil) that includes the likes of  Pynchon, Pierre Guyotat, Susan Sontag, Derrida, Olivier Rolin, Michel Deguy, Robert Coover, Antoine Volodine, Jacques Roubaud, Florence Delay, Jacques henric, Natacha Michel, Jean-Marie Gleize & many others.

Someone needs to translate his “novel” Louve Basse, one of the great experimental prose works from 70s France. Here a small section from Le Mécrit which I translated in the early 80s:


So I’ve had my say, I’ve put my word end to end with those that hadn’t forewarned, those that hurt, those that will weigh heavy in the balance, those that are mistakes, those that make the po-heads barf, the poetillitos, the prose-eletizers, pots (oh poets!), psoets, co-pokes, copaws, pawers-of-being, cowardly co-riders, noise wetters, shitty cadencers of all hues, line-recitors my friends, my buddies (oh poets!) of posy, fine flowers, fine flies, fine rimesters, friends cousins pizzle rooters for Racine pissing by the rule, akas of writhicating . . .

I’ve had my say. I’m at the end of this beshitten trip where I had all and everything to say. My error all along, I was bored stiff, always lifting my pencil after the passing ladies, line after line blowing up in my face, speaking of my bragging pricks high-flutin’ it in the white of the margins, denouncing comedies and falsifiers in a race to the finish, grabbing the piggybank, shtupping flower after flower; I therefore announce, between two books, that it’s over. And how!

[ . . . . . . ]

The race! The noise’s so loud, head on I’ll get you, popish paparazzi, even in a sack race, I’ve put up with too much, I’ve seen the fat pampered pustules apopping, the nonassaillant war, the apostrophes planted like stakes doing the honor guard all the way to the coliseum, the patent and sham factory, discouraging, banquet after banquet, I’ve seen all that necking with the high shits, copanthropi and carpetbeggars throwing cloths and elzevirs over the windmills. For crying out loud, Marianne’s buggered to the hilt, phrygian from before the caesarian, knocked up by wind-farters of pose-etry. Scuffed stogies, together we float level with the green balconies, fence-jumpers of the inbetween, you and I don’t give a damn, halfcatching, half-splitting, the prose-ol’-pop-eia and the poul-try there they rest in the nettles, popefigures of the H.C. on the mat, poetry’s for the nerds, dingeling dongs too, absolved are Sully’s teats, epic outlaws, sonnets, sonobuoys, bell tunes, fingerbowl caesuras . . . Ugh, I’ve had it. Deafening music.

Of course none of this should ever have been said. I tip my hat to my friends. I stop running, not that much out of breath, finally, I begin again to sautner along various buildings, the viale that spins a bit, wistaria in flower to the left, and further along, there are doorways, they are too white-washed. The air whisks me away, but I sit soberly where I belong, accepting the hommage that’s due. Minor patrols here and there, behind the flight of stairs, bimbos outside, thighs swollen for having been savagely pressed by the tips of my fingers. The obelisk in the factory’s yard, I’ll piss all over it (but I’ll say it in verse, of course), splattering a few drops, it’s always like that, on the banderole to which I’ll add tonight: “Poetry’s croaked, motheaten in small squares, may God have . . .

21 May 1972

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