Dominique Fourcade, Everything Happens, trans. Stacy Doris
(Sausalito: Post-Apollo Press, 2000).

Actaeon's move was unintentional unlike mine
Tumbling upon Diana again and again

— Fourcade, Click-Rose, trans. Keith Waldrop


Published in Paris in January of 2000, 1998's Grand Prix National de Poésie winner Dominique Fourcade's Tout arrive forwards a remarkable poetics registering that nation's post-Mallarméan anxiety while safely leaving it behind as an "improvisation fee" (31). Now, those reading in Stacy Doris' English translation will find a great deal of provocation from a book which, despite the clichéd claim, both proclaims and demonstrates a poetics which is just this side of a new Continental Zen.

Fourcade narrates how, while visiting an exposition of Mallarmé manuscripts, "two words chose a self, nothing out of the ordinary" — "Manet's note thanking Mallarmé for his support following the Jury's refusal of two of his paintings for the Salon of 1874 …" featured the heading Tout arrive ("Everything happens") (11). The ambiguity of the phrase in French, impossible to translate concisely, allows its significance to oscillate between something like everything is happening; everything happens; everything arrives; everything comes upon / alights; everything (is) coming, etc. And, of course, it is all this at once. Fourcade allows this implied attitude toward perception to implicate his own poetics, citing Manet as modern in a way that Mallarmé could never quite be: "there is no excuse for not perceiving everything at once" (13). Rather than Mallarmé and his overwrought mannerism, Fourcade cites Dickinson, Stein, and Oppen (as we might expect, leaving the grittier O'Hara et al to historical myopia) as the first to activate Manet's poetics, "because, of all the phases spoken in a line, not one is natural in the first place" (17). Mastery is out of the question, but constant training of the senses is likened to a dancer's training of her / his body — for, the writer, Fourcade asserts, must "be ready but not prepared" (19). It should come as no surprise that, since everything happens (except, somehow, mastery), the subject is dead. The modern (and Fourcade rejects the appellation "post-modern") poem is an accumulation of this "everything" which is forced back into the set of which it is made (trans-finite poetics, if you will) by sheer necessity. It is an attitude toward perception, an exhausting imperative, and has left the life of the subject (unlike O'Hara, hence the otherwise pertinent link is jettisoned) for dead. "Manet had no use for the meanwhile, and there was nothing for him that didn't matter. That's why he's us" (25).

Is chance / chaos / fortuity a force or an implement? Only a "method" can decide, "only a method can make everything happening plausible, otherwise it is unfounded" (32-3). If it happens, why endeavor to represent it happening? If everything happening in a poetics is foundational, isn't the assertion that everything happens prophetic? or determining? If chance is a force (instead of an implement) than the latter, no? Of course, the suggestion is that it is both, in which case, why trouble yourself with a method? "I'm sure that what's at stake is the planning of death" (33). This is an existential concern (though with the Zen twist); it flips back (as it did for Sartre) on the respect of individual liberty through systems, a "method." "[T]o go on: at the subject's dead center, in love, frequency is the inverse of period" (24).

— Patrick F. Durgin
This review originally appeared in the premier issue of 26 (spring, 2002)


Patrick F. Durgin is the author of several chapbooks of poetry; Pundits Scribes Pupils is from Potes & Poets Press (1998); And so on is from Texture Press (1999) and is available from Duration Press' out-of-print archive; Sorter is from Duration Press (2001) and is downloadable for free from the Duration Bookstore. His poetry and critical writings have appeared in numerous small-press periodicals since the late 90's, including 26, Aufgabe, Chain, Combo, Crayon, Ixnay, Lipstick Eleven, Rain Taxi Review of Books, and Tripwire. Durgin has published / presented articles and interviews on / with poets such as Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Dominique Fourcade, Lyn Hejinian, Andrew Levy, Nathaniel Mackey, Jackson Mac Low, Eileen Myles, Douglas Oliver, and Rod Smith. An ongoing collaboration with poet / translator Jen Hofer — regarding a potential "synaesthetic poetics" — frequently makes its way into print. He has translated excerpts of the daring young French poet Jérôme Bertin's long work, "x.x. n" and is founding editor and publisher of Kenning.


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