Writing About the Concrete: Marie-Claire Bancquart

Marie-Claire Bancquart
BY Alain Bancquart

Born in Aveyron, France (1932), MARIE-CLAIRE BANCQUART, Emeritus Professor at Paris IV-Sorbonne, is the author of more than twenty collections of poetry in French, most recently Terre énergumène (Le Castor Astral, 2009), Verticale de secret (Obsidiane, 2007) and Avec la mort, quartier d’orange entre les dents (Obsidiane, 2005). She has newly published a collection of critical essays and poems, Entre marge et présence (Éditions Henry-Les Écrits du Nord, 2009). Several of her writings were also anthologized in Rituel d’emportement (Le Temps qu’il fait / Obsidiane, 2002).

Bancquart lectures frequently throughout France and abroad. Her work has been featured in a number of French literary journals, including La Sape, Autre Sud, Nu(e), Friches, Poésie, Arabesques, and the online publication, Poezibao (“Spécial Marie-Claire Bancquart”). Her writings also serve as the subject for two critical texts: À la voix de Marie-Claire Bancquart by Peter Broome (Cherche-Midi, 1996) and In the Flesh of the Text: The Poetry of Marie-Claire Bancquart (Rodopi, 2008). Awards for her critical prose include Grand Prix de critique de l’Académie française, Grand prix de l’Association internationale des critiques and prix Sainte-Beuve de la critique, among others. Currently, she lives in Paris with her husband, the composer Alain Bancquart. Her website is: mapage.noos.fr/marieclairebancquart/.

I feel a very close connection to your poems. I find it interesting that you are a “non-believer,” I am a “believer,” and your poems speak to me profoundly of the metaphysical domain. But belief is difficult to define. There is agnosticism, reverential agnosticism, atheism, theism, and deism, among other types. Where do you situate your non-belief?

I don’t have any metaphysical belief at all. I am not a theist. I think I am a system of atoms which formed itself like many other systems, which has a slower entropy than most other systems of atoms, and after death, I will be reduced to atoms and I will exist no longer as far as Marie-Claire Bancquart. I don’t believe in the infinite. I think earthly things are destined to die like the earth itself. And this common death brings us much closer to the animals, plants, and all things on the earth. I don’t think there’s any fundamental difference between us and these other things, for example, between my cat and myself. I’m not an anthropomorphist. This is because I’m not a believer, nor a deist. I don’t think that there is a difference between the soul and the heart.

Marie Claire Bancquart AND Christina Cook

Would you call this perspective pantheism?

It’s not pantheism. Perhaps it’s very difficult for a believer to understand, but poetry is not a pantheism, poetry is a relation with the world. I think that the world itself will disappear, the earth will disappear, the planet will disappear, I therefore don’t believe in pantheism. There’s a difference between the people who believe in things other than immanence, and people who believe only in immanence. I believe only in immanence. If I were a pantheist, I would think there was a sort of passing of the infinite back into the earth itself and I don’t think so. I think the earth is mortal like the rest.

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