I Can Not Repeat What I Hear
Hamburg, Germany: Spector Books, 2014
139 pp., 24 x 33 cm., softcover
Edition size unknown
Berlin’s Natalie Czech creates uncanny limit-case poems that point to the end of erasure texts, each piece a seemingly impossible conjuring of texts within texts.
Czech’s I Can Not Repeat What I Hear is an awe-inspiring book of literary conjuring. I Can Not Repeat What I Hear places text-based visual poems within larger textual fields, embedding them into the margin-to-margin written from which they assert themselves. Every page tests what we, as readers, can accept as plausible, as reasonable, as do-able. Czech is a literary magician.
I Can Not Repeat What I Hear catalogues Czech’s recent exhibition of text-based art and includes excerpts from several distinct pieces, each of which is astonishing.
Czech has commissioned friends to write letters in her voice on each of the colours described in Rimbaud’s poem “Voyelles,” an uncanny mirror-house folding of correspondence where voice and exchange becomes blurred behind the potentials of Rimbaud’s original poem.
Czech has also scoured an unfathomable number of magazines and popular culture scraps and has found embedded—in a mind-blowing act of literary archaeology—evidence of famous modernist poems embedded in larger blocks of texts like fossilized dinosaur feathers preserved in the crush of shale. Czech simply highlights the uncanny occurrence of entire poems, photographs them in situ and exhibits these bravado acts of poetic discovery as troubling the line between poetic and photographic documentation. A single example of this seemingly impossible task is enough to incite jealousy and wonder at the audacity of Czech’s find.
Complimented by a pair of explanatory essays, one by Julien Bismuth and one by Kenneth Goldsmith, I Can Not Repeat What I Hear is an exceptional example of what can be done with a non-poetic poetic.
derek beaulieu is the author or editor of 15 books, the most recent of which are Please, No more poetry: the poetry of derek beaulieu (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013) and kern (Les Figues press, 2014). He is the publisher of the acclaimed no press and is the visual poetry editor at UBUWeb. Beaulieu has exhibited his work across Canada, the United States and Europe and currently teaches at the Alberta College of Art + Design. He is the 2014-2016 Poet Laureate of Calgary, Canada.