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Cutting the Stems
Cutting the Stems

Cutting the Stems

By Virginie Lalucq, Translated by Celine Bourhis, Translated by Claire McQuerry



150 Pages, 5.5 x 7.5

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB

Trade Paper, $18.00 (US $18.00) (CA $24.00)

Publication Date: October 2023

ISBN 9781947817586

Rights: US & CA

Saturnalia Books (Oct 2023)


eBook Editions Available

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Translated from the French, Cutting the Stems is a playful, long poem in sections that contains a pastiche of various unlikely influences: manuals on gardening and plant propagation, etymological dictionaries, gemstone and mineral guides, a how-to for florists, and other “un-poetic” texts. Lalucq’s poem incorporates word play, linguistic borrowings, and etymological references, and McQuerry and Bourhis’s translation captures, and, at times, reinvents, that word play for an English audience. The poem includes the central personas she and he who at times talk past each other in lyrical and often surrealist exchanges. Through these personas, we see gender category, like language, as fluid. She, whose identity merges with the poem’s speaker, is a florist and devotes much attention to the tending of words, to “[her] sentence,” which takes on a life of its own. Cutting the stems of plants becomes akin to cutting away at language so that “the sentences bloom”. Lalucq’s poetry invites a questioning of poetic convention, foregrounding language’s gaps and slippages. In this dual language flip book, the attention to language’s instability is all the richer.

Author Biography

Virginie Lalucq was born in 1975 and lives in Paris. She is the author of Couper les tiges (Act Mem/ Comp’act, 2001) and Fortino Sámano, Les débordements du poème (with Jean-Luc-Nancy, Galilée 2004) translated by Sylvain Gallais and Cynthia Hogue (Omnidawn, 2012). She has been member of the editorial collective for the journal Nioques for twenty years. The Center for the Study of Poetry (ENS) in Lyons describes Lalucq’s poetry: "A certain desire to experiment characterizes her work, a desire that translates most clearly in the number of collaborative performances and writing projects." Céline Bourhis is a lecturer at Bradley University where she teaches global literature and technical writing courses. Her research interests include postcolonial studies, postmodern literature, and life writing. Prior to her teaching appointment, she worked as an editorial assistant at Dalkey Archive Press and published interviews with authors in Context. Claire McQuerry's poetry and translations have appeared in Denver Quarterly Review, Tin House, Gettysburg Review, Poetry Northwest, Permafrost, and other journals. Her poetry collection Lacemakers (Southern Illinois University Press) won the Crab Orchard First Book Prize and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Sewanee Writers’ Workshop, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes, and the Virgnia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. She is an Assistant Professor at Bradley University.