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Ivy Writers – Cole Swensen and Yves di Manno

Ivy Writers – Cole Swensen and Yves di Manno

 by Kate Noakes. Photos courtesy of Jennifer K. Dick of Ivy Writers.

Ivy seem to have had a run of bad luck lately with their venues. No sooner do they move to somewhere fabulously swanky at Bonne Nouvelle than the owner of the Delaville Cafe decides to start renovation work on the dedicated upstairs salon a week early. How frustrating. Normal service will be resumed next month with Alice Notley and others, so I look forward to that hugely, especially the apparently erotic murals. Interference from the cafe aside, this was a cracking evening with two marvellous poets: American Cole Swensen and Frenchman Yves di Manno. Their bios are below. And you know what they say, you have to be able to read in a noisy bar to be a real poet.

Listen to Jennifer K. Dick’s introduction here:

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Cole read a series of poems about ghosts: some centred on Gravesend in England, which, as the point of embarkation for so many emigrants from Britain to the colonies and Empire, is for her a ‘ghost factory of the imagination’. It is also the title of her newly published book. Several of these poems came from interviewing people about ghosts and asking two very simple questions – what do you think a ghost is? and will you ever be one? These elicited complex answers: ‘sometimes we are the glitch and have no idea of it’ or a ghost is ‘an electrical storm in a jewellery box’ – what a terrific image. I wish I’d written that.

Her work is mostly prose poems, including a long piece on literary ghost stories retelling the tales of Defoe, Henry James and Le Fanu. She also read new work from her current book project based on late night walks including some ekphrasis. I enjoyed the unadorned nature of her writing. There is great power in keeping things straight and simple I often think.

Listen to Cole Swensen reading her “Ghost Stories” here:

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Yves’ poems seem to have that same drive for accuracy and simplicity of phrase (although readers will remember the limits of my French). He read what in the pagination look like fairly long poems (I peeked), but are probably not, as the sparse mis en page is clearly important. They concerned colour in various ways, I especially liked the notion of a ‘perfectly green page’, one was a self-portrait and the fourth was a translation of George Oppen’s Nuit de Bresil, packed full of animals. Super!

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Poet Bios

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

Cole Swensen is the author of 14 books of poetry, most recently Gravesend (U. of California, 2012) and Stele (Post-Apollo Press, 2012), and a volume of critical essays, Noise That Stays Noise (U. of Michigan Press, 2011). She is the co-editor of the 2009 Norton anthology American Hybrid and the founding editor of La Presse, a very small press that publishes contemporary French writing in English translation. A translator herself, she won the PEN USA Translation Award in 2004 and has published translations of work by Jean Frémon, Suzanne Doppelt, Nicolas Pesquès, Caroline Dubois, and others. A professor of literary arts at Brown University, she divides her life between Providence, RI and Paris.

Yves di Manno was born in Rhône in 1954. He now lives and works in Paris. Since the 1970s, he has collaborated with numerous magazines, translating many North American poets (such as William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, George Oppen, Jerome Rothenberg) and has published over 20 works, including Les Célébrations (Bedou, 1980), Champs (Flammarion, 1984-1987), Kambuja (Flammarion, 1992), Partitions (Flammarion, 1995) and Un Pré, chemin vers (Flammarion, 2003). His most recent book is Terre sienna, released in 2012 by Isabelle Sauvage editors. His complete set of short stories were published under the title Disparaître (Didier Devillez, 1997). He has also written a fantasy novel La Montagne rituelle (Flammarion, 1998), two “dream stories”: Domicile (Denoël, 2002), Discipline (Ed. Héloïse d’Ormesson, 2005) and two essays on active poetics: “endquote” (Flammarion, 1999), Objets d’Amérique (José Corti, 2009). Translating commercial literature under various pseudonyms such as the French version of Jerome Rothenberg’s Techniciens du sacré (José Corti, 2008) and Pierre Reverdy’s Œuvres complètes, he also directs the Poésie/Flammarion collection where more than 120 titles have been published since 1994. He is currently working on a new essay on poetics: No man’s land and the third edition of Ezra Pound’s Cantos.

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