On Michaux’s “Movements”

Translator’s Note

Mouvements par Henri Michaux
(soixante-quatre dessins, avec
un poème et une postface)
Paris, NRF/Le Point du jour, 1951.

This poem is taken from Henri Michaux’s book, Mouvements, published by NRF/Gallimard (under the collection “Le Point du jour”), in Paris, 1951, with sixty-four drawings and a Postface. I sent the original poem to Bernard Bador who did a first draft, which I went over and sent back to him. Several drafts later, the translation as printed here was finished. I have been looking at Michaux’s drawings and reading his texts for decades. In 2005 I wrote a poem called “Michaux, 1956” (see The Grindstone of Rapport / A Clayton Eshleman Reader, Black Widow Press, 2008, pp. 207-209), my testament to the artist’s antic and teeming lines, verging on doodles but so possessed by nearly-born figures emerging out of the void that they might very well be new forms of life, sprinting about in oceanic deeps, or, like unidentifiable insects, boring into our dreams.

At that time, I also wrote, “There is in Michaux an emergent face/non-face always in formation. Call it ‘face before birth.’ Call it our thingness making faces. Call it tree bole or toadstool spirits, anima mundi snout, awash in ephemerality, anti-anatomical, the mask of absence, watercolor by a blind child, half-disintegrated faces of souls in Hades pressing about the painter Ulysses-Michaux as, over his blood trench of ink, he converses with his hermaphroditic muse…” For readers interested in looking into Michaux’s art, I highly recommend Emergences / Resurgences, published as Drawing Papers #14 by The Drawing Center in New York City, with a text superbly translated by Richard Sieburth.

— Clayton Eshleman

Printed from Cerise Press: http://www.cerisepress.com

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