Please join us this Thursday, May 12, at 8 p.m. for a bilingual reading of Leslie Kaplan’s first book, Excess—The Factory. Julie Carr and Jennifer Pap have worked collaboratively, with Kaplan’s ongoing input, to create a full translation of all nine sections (“Circles”) of L’excès—l’usine. The book will be published by Commune Editions in 2018. This event is free and open to the public.
Beginning in January 1968, Leslie Kaplan worked for two years in a series of factories, but stumbled over the problem of how to write about such an experience. She claimed that “no discourse could speak the factory,” but that some words—free of the forms and expectations of discourse—could undertake to do so. As she put it, those words would have to be suspended, discordant, and open. Faced with the desire, or with the ethical summons, to write about an alienating and often hidden place in society, Kaplan wrote her first book: L’excès—l’usine, a book-length poem with a new strangeness that exposes what is unformed in the factory environment, and acknowledges the distance and separation that the environment creates between people and objects. Kaplan’s poetic voice moves and circulates through the factory with its heaps of wire, sheet metal, its assembly line rhythms, and its open yards. As such, she renders into poetry what is political life—the position of the workers in this factory and their isolation from the value of what they are producing. And yet, her poetry seems to discover and record a sharing of sense perception across the community and space of the factory.
Leslie Kaplan was born in Brooklyn, but raised and educated in France. Beginning in January 1968, Kaplan worked for two years in a series of factories, and participated in the events of May 1968. L’excès—L’usine (Excess—The Factory) was published in 1982 with Hachette. Since then she has published over a dozen works (novels, essays, and theatre pieces) with P.O.L. and Folio (Gallimard). Her website contains a number of essays and brief translations in English. Her most recent theatre work will be performed in Paris, Caen, and (in an English version) Denver in Spring 2016.
Julie Carr is the author of six books of poetry, most recently 100 Notes on Violence (Ahsahta, 2010), RAG (Omnidawn, 2014), and Think Tank (Solid Objects, 2015). She is also the author of Surface Tension: Ruptural Time and the Poetics of Desire in Late Victorian Poetry (Dalkey Archive, 2013). A chapbook of prose, The Silence that Fills the Future, was recently released as a free pdf from Essay Press. Objects from a Borrowed Confession (prose) is forthcoming from Ahsahta press in 2016. Carr was a 2011–12 NEA fellow and is an associate professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the English department and the Intermedia Art, Writing and Performance Ph.D. program. She regularly collaborates with dance artist K. J. Holmes and is the co-founder of Counterpath.
Jennifer Pap is an associate professor of French at the University of Denver. She has published articles on the presence of the visual arts in the language and thought of French poets such as Apollinaire, Reverdy, and Ponge. An article on Leslie Kaplan’s L’excès—l’usine has appeared in the December 2015 issue of Contemporary French and Francophone Studies. In collaboration with Julie Carr, she has also translated Apollinaire’s Alcools.