LITTLE PINK BOOK
Vallum Chapbook Series No. 12
Claire Huot & Robert Majzel
Though the cover presupposes a fun, maybe even cute, little pink book, Claire Huot and Robert Majzels’ collection of translated Chinese poetry is sudden and subtly challenging. Each poem is laid out in a dense series of boxes: rows of 17 and columns of 5, housing individual letters and ignoring spacing and punctuation. Do not expect a soft, gentle introduction, disclaimer or preface. Sit in the winter sunshine on a hardwood floor and let the words play out.
You will be immediately confronted by the work; the words “weight” and “death” two of the first to be quietly mouthed as you re-learn the shapes and sounds of once familiar words. This first poem might be read in a single breath, with little need to skip back. As you continue, though, you cannot avoid the misreading, re-calculating, starting again, starting again. “weal… no, we allk, no, we all know…”. You struggle through simply getting the words, then twenty seconds and 85 individually boxed letters later it’s over, and some form of meaning seeps in. The words feel impersonal, even when “my” and “i” are introduced, with a kind of objective, detached confidence rarely seen in western poetry. Though the weight and intensity of the poems varies, the restriction of time, breath and space for each piece is constant, creating a sort of framework for the experience.
The little pink book is part of the 85 Project by Claire Huot and Robert Majzels, which challenges and questions the ethics of translation through experiments and performances using various forms of media. Learn more the project at 85bawu.com
This chapbook is not available as a digital edition.