The Xenotext Book 1 is the most substantial installment to date in Christian Bök’s ongoing Xenotext project. Very few books of poetry have been so widely anticipated in the press or so eagerly discussed by their author during composition. More difficult to understand and more difficult to enjoy than Bök’s Eunoia, The Xenotext Book 1 is nonetheless a spectacular read, and will not disappoint confirmed fans of the writer that Steven W. Beattie called “the mad scientist of Canadian poetry.”
“What would your life be without it?” asks the Anne Carson epigraph that opens the recent translation of Brossard’s 2008 collection Ardour, translated by Angela Carr. “Ardour,” a derivative of what meant literally “to burn” (ardere) is a concept that runs alongside desire, intensity, speed, intelligence, honesty and lucidity in Brossard’s vital formula of what is significant to her in life. This collection, overflowing with tender intensity, full cries in the dark, and “nice shots of emptiness in certitude,” embodies all of these things. Ardour’s microclimate is pure passion, language’s tide lapping against the edges of the body, tracing the “familiar curve” of the ellipse and the eyebrow.