Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Foreign-Language Titles: MC Hyland's Poems in the New Slant (Rachel Mallino): To French or not to French

I really like MC Hyland's three poems in the latest Slant.

Great pacing and lots of beautiful images and phrases like "Then winter came on, scratchy/ with stars" and "Seasons/ fell away, creaking on the doorjambs." All in all a quite dreamy effect. Choreographed and ballet-like.

That being said it's strange that I'm going to quibble with the titles (Ballet Mécanique (i),(ii) and (iii)). But I am.

Most any english-language poem using French or Italian or Latin, etc, in the title, is just being pretentious in the way that Charles Simic's titles are pretentious (bandying around terms like "History" and "Knowledge" etc,... Gosh how I like to smack Charles around for this. Smack him smack-damn on the top of his eastern european head. his not-so-original eastern european head. smart head, though. anyways.)

Most foreign language in the bodies of english-language poems fails too I think. Fails because the poet is almost always trying to be "high." That is to say, taking on airs.

Is MC Hyland doing that here? I'm not sure. The title comes off that way. And I'd much rather she'd have come up with something else. Even though there is Ballet Mécanique precedent:

Ballet Mécanique (1924) was a project by the American composer George Antheil and the filmmaker/artist Fernand Léger. Although the film was intended to use Antheil's score as a soundtrack, the two parts were not brought together until the 1990s. As a composition, Ballet Mécanique is Antheil's best known and most enduring work. It remains famous for its radical style and instrumentation as well as its storied history.

But does this have anything to do with these Slant poems? I dunno.

And if so shouldn't the poet have put a little note with an asterisk. Or something like that. It's not exactly common knowledge. And was it my responsibility to look it up. O, the age-old questions I've failed to question-mark. I dunno.

Anyways, I'm just venting here. Talking up a pet peeve. Like my not liking raw onions. But who wants to hear me venting about raw onions. Well I suppose it depends on how I do it. Style, that is. Naked, bruised, livid, on a chandelier. Maybe. With all my savoir faire on display. Blah, Blah. Quid Pro Quo. I Dunno.

On the other MC Hyland (what a great name) also uses French in the body of these poems. And uses it really well. A compound noun: "Haut-parleurs." High talkers. And in context it works brilliantly. Brilliantly 3 times.

Again, I really like these MC Hyland poems. (if i didn't you all know I'd say so.) And I'm probably just using this as a chance to fly my raw onion flags from every chandelier I can nip this aging fattening flabbying mind-body on to.

Vive la France (not really. decadent, backward-looking, tourist-sucking country! Maybe i'm just talking about Paris here. Generalizing. WTF. I'm in the mood)

Vive la France
Vive la France

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