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Ivy Writers 4×4: Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Dot Devota, Brandon Shimoda, Zachary Schomburg and translators Jacques Rebotier, Virginie Poitrasson, Paul Laborde and Matin Richet

Ivy Writers 4×4: Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Dot Devota, Brandon Shimoda, Zachary Schomburg and translators Jacques Rebotier, Virginie Poitrasson, Paul Laborde and Matin Richet

Review by Kate Noakes. Photographs and audio by JFMcG.

American poets and their French translators in a former bordello? A burlesque dance class that slightly retarded Ivy Writer’s poetic 4×4 bonanza? Well, if that wasn’t enough temptation to draw a poetry crowd to the faded grandeur of the upstairs salon at the Delaville cafe, then I don’t know what would have been. Ivy’s offering this month was a stonking reading by four young(ish) and many times published poets right along side their just-as-talented French translators, also published poets in their own right.

First up was Brandon Shimoda reading from Portuguese and The Alps. He opened with part of his current project The Grave on the Wall, a biography of his grandfather: ‘go and get all the love you deserve’, sounds like good advice. His unsettling poem The Killing Fields posed a surprising question ‘does a hermaphrodite have eyes?’I enjoyed his piece celebrating his grandparents wedding in Switzerland, which was a simple idea: a note of all the food he loves, carefully chosen and artfully arranged of course. That’s the trick with a successful list poem.

Listen to Brandon Shimoda read The Grave on the Wall followed by Paul Laborde’s translation here:

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Brandon was followed by Joshua Marie Wilkinson also reading long pieces from his intriguingly entilted, early book Lug your Careless Body out of the Careful Dusk. Cordial Disappearances presents a dislocated landscape ‘the moon gets horrible in the yard’, ‘night…rips a hole in the street’ and The Dead asks questions like ‘how do you get a river out of your home?’ Peeking at the typography the mis en page of his poems is interesting: they might be long, but they are in sections barely using half of each page, sometimes just the top third, to focus the reader’s attention.

Listen to Joshua Marie Wilkinson read his Cordial Disappearances followed by Paul Laborde’s translation here:

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Dot Devota opened the second half of the night with her found poems Topical Sentences; another lesson in creativity – choosing just the right phrases and arranging them to make other meanings from the source text. I might be borrowing that idea for a workshop one day soon.  Her gorgeous poem The Green has a pulse is a great discourse on the idea of colour: ‘something without colour stands tall’, while It is Love that I Don’t Write wrestled with the vanity of not writing: ‘I’ve given myself cancers just thinking of the voice’.

Listen to Dot Devota read It is Love that I Don’t Write here:

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To vary the French translations which tended to be read by the translators after the English poems, Dot and Jacques Rebotier divided her poems up and so the French immediately followed each section of English. This was a lively tactic that meant the audience didn’t have to try to remember the English version when listening to the French. Bravo!

Zachary Schomburg rounded things off with, amongst others, his poem The Thing that Surrounds us. Being from an island this one especially appealed: ‘one room was filled with all the space that surrounds all the islands’. I rather want to live in that house. The Whale is a surreal offering imagining it ate his mother and provoking strange responses in the child: ‘when I was old enough I rode a bike to Florida’, ‘once I ate beach glass’ and the acute observation that ‘the whole night is a crab that crawls across my cold feet’. I enjoyed the playfulness of his new work ‘no-one on the plane to Tokyo knows what cake is’ and ‘I’m on a small white boat with three wounded chickens’.

Listen to Zachary Schomburg read Agnus the Elephant with Jacques Rebotier here:

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Another triumphant night of excellent poetry from Ivy bringing new poets to my attention. I think I have rather a lot of reading to catch up on from these prolific writers. Looks like my Easter holiday is sorted!

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Bios of the American poets

BIOS AND PHOTOS COURTESY OF IVY WRITERS PARIS AND THE AUTHORS, for more information or to follow this reading series please see their blog here, their facebook group here or email your info for their readings emailings at

JoshuaJoshua Marie Wilkinson is the author of five books, including Lug Your Careless Body out of the Careful Dusk (University of Iowa Press 2006) and The Book of Whispering in the Projection Booth (Tupelo Press 2009). His poems have appeared in American Letters & CommentaryBoston ReviewChicago Sun-TimesJubilatNew American Writing, and Verse, among many others.His work has also appeared in several anthologies, including three Diagram anthologies (New Michigan Press), Poets on Painters (Wichita State 2007), A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (University of Iowa Press 2011), and The Sonnets: Rewriting Shakespeare (Nightboat Books 2012). New work will appear in the expanded Postmodern American Poetry anthology (W.W. Norton 2013) as well as in HERE*NOW (University of Alabama Press 2013) and How Some Children Played at Slaughtering (Works on Paper Press 2013).Since 2006, he has been at work on a five-book sequence of poetry called the No Volta pentalogy, including Selenography, with Polaroids by Tim Rutili (Sidebrow Books 2010);Swamp Isthmus (Black Ocean 2013); and The Courier’s Archive & Hymnal (Sidebrow Books 2014). With Solan Jensen, he directed a tour documentary about the band Califone: Made a Machine by Describing the Landscape (IndiePix Films 2011). A former editor for The Denver Quarterly and Sonora Review, he founded the journal Rabbit Light Movies and ran it for five years, featuring poemfilms of over 100 authors from 2007-2011. With Noah Eli Gordon, in 2007, he founded Letter Machine Editions, a small, nonprofit publisher of prose and poetry. He is also the editor of two anthologies published by University of Iowa Press: 12×12: 21st Century Poetry & Poetics (with Christina Mengert) and, most recently, Poets on Teaching, featuring 99 essays on the art of teaching poetry.Currently, he is editor of the poetry and poetics site The Volta, and is gathering essays for a book-length collection on the work of Anne Carson for University of Michigan Press. With Lily Hoang, he is editing a double anthology of essays by poets and prose writers on the intersections between the avant-garde and accessibility called The Force of What’s Possible for Nightboat Books. Born and raised in Seattle, he holds an MA in Film Studies from University College Dublin, and a PhD in English from University of Denver, and taught for four years at Loyola University Chicago. He now lives in Tucson, where he is an assistant professor in the English Department and teaches poetry and poetics in the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Arizona. New work is out or forthcoming in TriQuarterlyIndiana ReviewSalt HillGreen Mountains ReviewCrazyhorseThe Portland ReviewPaperbagBombMuthafuckaBlackbox ManifoldThe Denver Quarterly, and others. He’s also at work on a book of collaborations with visual artist Noah Saterstro

ZacharyZachary Schomburg lives in Portland, Oregon, and is the author of The Man Suit (2007), Scary, No Scary (2009), Fjords vol. 1 (2012), and a forthcoming book called The Book of Joshua. He is currently translating a book of french poems by Jacques Rebotier called Quelques Animaux de Transport et de Compagnie (Harpo &, 2004). He also co-edits Octopus Books. He was born in 1977 and is still not quite dead. Extract from a poem by Z Schomburg :”Every time the plane lifts off I know a secret the others don’t. The plane will break in half. I’ll spill out and land on top of a beautiful woman who is riding a horse. We’ll be naked and broken beneath the mud, our mouths open, and from this exact fall from the plane I’m the only one who will never die.”

DotDot Devota is from the Midwestern United States, and was born into a family of ranchers and rodeo stars. She is the author of And the Girls Worried Terribly (Noemi Press, 2013), The Eternal Wall (Cannibal Books, 2010), and MW: A Midwest Field Guide (Editions19). Her poems and nonfiction most recently appear in Make Magazine, Volt, Denver Quarterly, Word For/Word, and Tarpaulin Sky, with translations into Arabic for the political daily As-Safir. Receiving an MFA from the University of Montana and a BA in English and Sociology from the University of Arizona, she has taught at multiple universities and colleges in the states. Currently she co-directs The Kaohsiung Summer Institute for Writing and the Arts in Taiwan and travels full time.

BrandonBrandon Shimoda was born in California, and has since lived in eleven states and five countries, mostly recently Maine, Taiwan, and Arizona. He is the author of four books of poetry—Portuguese (Octopus Books & Tin House, 2013),O Bon (Litmus Press, 2011), The Girl Without Arms (Black Ocean, 2011), and The Alps (Flim Forum Press, 2008), the last of which commemorates his parents’ marriage in the Swiss Alps, 1972—as well as numerous limited editions of collaborations, drawings, writings, and songs. He has curated, edited, read, taught and/or worked for the Aldrich Museum, CutBankFence Magazine/Fence Books, Kaohsiung American School, the Missoula Art Museum, the University of Montana Creative Writing Program, Muthafucka, the New Lakes Reading Series, Octopus Books & Octopus MagazineSlope, the University of Arizona Poetry Center, and Wave Books. He has read publicly throughout the United States, in Beirut and Damascus—where his poems were translated into Arabic—and Tokyo. With poet-critic Thom Donovan, he is co-editing a retrospective collection of writings by Paris-based poet-painter Etel Adnan. He is currently working on a fifth book of poetry (titled, Evening Oracle); a multi-volume book of poems, prose, drawings and a questionnaire (titled, A Giant Asleep in Fortune’s Spindle); and a documentary/book on the life of his paternal grandfather Midori Shimoda (titled, The Grave on the Wall), which he hopes to finish by his 40th birthday, on August 6, 2018. You can find Brandon at and

Bios of the French translators

Paul Laborde est poète et traducteur, son premier livre va paraître en 2013 chez Cheyne Editeur. Il vit à Paris où il enseigne l’esthétique et la philosophie de l’art. Ce soir pour Ivy Writers Paris, il lira ses traductions de quelques poèmes inédits de Joshua Marie Wilkinson.

Virginie Poitrasson lira des traductions de quelques poèmes inédits de Dot Devota. Virginie est écrivain, traductrice, plasticienne et performeuse qui « explore les frontières entre les genres et les modes d’expression langagiers et plastiques (sons, vidéos, sérigraphie). » Elle est l’auteure de Il faut toujours garder en tête une formule magique (éditions de l’Attente), Vraisemblance du perméable (éditions Méridianes), Journal d’une disparition (Ink #1),  Tendre les liens (,Nous sommes des dispositifs (La Camera verde), Demi-valeurs (éditions de l’Attente), Série ombragée (Propos2 éditions) et Épisodes de la lueur (L’Atelier du Hanneton). En tant que traductrice, elle a traduit des poètes américains Michaël Palmer, Lyn Hejinian, Cole Swensen, Marylin Hacker, Charles Bernstein, Jennifer K. Dick, Michelle Noteboom, Jennifer Scappetone, Shanxing Wang, Rodrigo Toscano et Laura Elrick—deux recueils de traductions ont été édité First figure (Première figure) de Michael Palmer (co-traduit avec Éric Suchère, publié chez José Corti) et Slowly (Lentement) de Lyn Hejinian (Format Américain). Ce soir pour Ivy Writers Paris Virginie Poitrasson lira ses nouvelles traductions des poèmes inédits de Dot Devota.

Jacques Rebotier (né en 1950) peut être défini comme un créateur inclassable de par ses multiples activités : écrivain, poète, compositeur, comédien, metteur en scène. Il est l’auteur de nombreux ouvrages, entre autres, de Litaniques (2000) et Le Dos de la langue (2001) dans la collection « L’Arbalète » (Gallimard). Son théâtre est publié par Les solitaires intempestifs : Le Désordre des langages, 1, 2, 3(1998-1999) ; Vengeance tardive (2001) ; La Vie est courbe (2001) ;Réponse à la question précédente (2002). « Son style est caractérisé par une constante proximité des marges et un malin plaisir à transgresser les codes. Ses créations, interpellations conviendrait mieux, sont tout à la fois point de vue sur l’état du monde, critique des rapports humains, travail sur la mécanique des mots, mais toujours parcourues d’une énergie joyeuse. Elles mêlent lecture-performance, concert-performance, poésie, photographie, montages vidéo, théâtre-installation… et s’articulent autour d’une écriture exigeante. Il fonde en 1992 la compagnie VoQue, dont le nom est un condensé de voix, invocation, équivoque. » Ce soir pour Ivy Writers Paris nous aurons le plaisir d’entendre ses traductions inédits de quelques poèmes de Zachary Schomburg.

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