Contemporary Verse Novels: Jacques Roubaud’s SOME THING BLACK and Alix Cleo Roubaud’s ALIX’S JOURNAL

I first heard about these two books from M. Kitchell’s post at HTML Giant.

I went to the Dalkey Archives website and read:

In 1983 Jacques Roubaud’s wife Alix Cleo died at the age of 31 of a pulmonary embolism. The grief-stricken author responded with one brief poem (“Nothing”), then fell silent for thirty months.

I immediately bought both Some Thing Black and Alix’s Journal, but it wasn’t until tonight that I finished reading them, first Jacques’s, then Alix’s.

It took me the past three days to finally finish reading these, particularly because I began with Some Thing BlackI kept putting it down. Every time I read a few poems I felt the need to get up and walk around, breathe, get air. I kept experiencing terrible waves of sadness. Jacques’s words are overwhelming. Here are two poems that appear consecutively in the book:

First “1983: January.      1985: June” (p. 31):

The rhythmic range of words fills me with horror.

I can’t bring myself to open a single book of poems.

Evening hours should be abolished.

When I wake up it’s dark: still.

Hundreds of dark mornings have been my refuge.

I read innocuous prose.

The rooms untouched: chairs, walls, shutters, clothes, doors.

I close the doors as if silence.

The light rises over my ears.

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