All is Flesh Front Cover

Paperback / softback
ISBN: 9780889226722
Pages: 128
Pub. Date: September 13 2011
Dimensions: 8.5" x 5.5" x 0.5"
Rights: Available: WORLD
Poetry / POE011000

  • POETRY / Canadian

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All is Flesh

By Yannick Renaud
Translated by Hugh Hazelton

All Is Flesh collects in one volume Hugh Hazelton’s English translations of Yannick Renaud’s brilliant first two books of poems, Taxidermy and The Disappearance of Ideas, first published by Éditions Les Herbes rouges in Montreal.

Taxidermy is a discourse on time consisting of prose poems stretched to the very limits of detachment. A completely objectified couple, alternately speaking as simply “he” or “she,” strive to attain perfect control over their physical movements. Slowing them down, even stopping them, is equivalent in their minds to seizing and savouring the essence of the present and, by extension, to stopping time in their lives—an enactment of the romantic aesthetics of Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” Their attempts at “holding the pose,” as much for themselves as for each other, generate a tension in their voices—at once demanding, yearning and confessional—between the need for both static form and fluid movement in the choreography of their lives, which seeks to “occupy space unequivocally.”

The Disappearance of Ideas is a meditation on time that interrogates death and mourning, reminding us that “death remains the privilege of the living” and that “cathedrals tell us nothing more than the time on their stones.” Unsentimental and intellectualized, the poems generate their radiant intensity by drawing our attention to the part of mourning that remains unresolved and inaccessible in our memories, reminding us of “what we don’t know of stories.” But this absence, what remains unknown of the past to us, also haunts our futures, where “actions taken only hinder what should have been,” and “there is no second chance.” As Baudrillard has said: “Things live only on the basis of their disappearance, and, if one wishes to interpret them with entire lucidity, one must do so as a function of their disappearance.”

“Renaud’s poems are untitled and structured sentence-like on the page, simultaneously defying canonical form and reflecting the poet’s thematic interest in testing the limits of bodily constraints. The fragmentary style of the prose poems allows for ontological exploration. Hazelton’s translation reads with radiant and imaginative originality, and provides an instance of aesthetic transformation even as it offers images both inspiring and dark.”
Quill & Quire

"Using a fragmented style, redolent of missed steps, twisting legs and brutal breaks, the poet never makes concessions to simplicity. Taxidermy is demanding poetry, written in prose, without indulging in the facile lyricism that might seem virtually impossible to avoid."
Le Devoir

"The Disappearance of Ideas, a meditation on mourning, has a great and beautiful placidity … Renaud’s poetic phrasing is finely chiselled, down to the ellipses which give rise to the book’s most powerful thoughts, without ever falling into the trap of sentimentality."
Voix et images

Translated by Hugh Hazelton

Hugh Hazelton is a writer and translator who specializes in poetry from Quebec and Latin America. His translation of Vétiver, by Joël Des Rosiers, won the Governor General’s Award for Translation in 2006. He teaches Spanish translation and Latin American civilization at Concordia University.

Read more about Hugh Hazelton