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Sunday Poetry With Laura Broadbent

Sunday Poetry With Laura Broadbent

By Coach House Date: July 05, 2020

Happy Sunday! This week we have Laura Broadbent, author of In on the Great Joke, on writing about Clarice Lispector.


(An excerpt from an "interview" with Clarice Lispector.)

by Laura Broadbent (In on the Great Joke)


It is the instant at which the wheel of the automobile going at high speed barely touches the ground.
It is the what.
It is the shout of something that shouts and surges forth. It is all-consuming..

It coils around me and is sexually alive. It is harshly alive.
It is the great power of potentiality. It’s useless to think about it.

I won’t discover it and yet I live off it.
It is because of the lack of answers.
The milk is it.
My life will be very long because each moment is it. It’s a question of time’s simultaneity.

It is the eroticism inherent in living things.
It is the liturgy of dissonant swarms of insects that rise from pestilent bogs. It is the evil that dominates me.
It isn’t hard and it comes easily.
It’s a matter of not fighting it and simply surrendering.
It’s melancholy.
It’s morning.
It – I feel like calling it the jewel of death.
Telling it would be to betray it.
It is.
It is the real encounter.
It is all living things, man notwithstanding.
And it is a riot of wonderment.
Its perfume is an insane mystery.
It’s a flower that impetuously controls its own savagery.
How uncertain it is.
Yet it’s within the order.
It is people who are a little ugly and at the same time in harmony.
It is the courage to live.
There is no formula for it.
It is an inexplicable love that makes the heart beat faster.
It is the joy one can die from.
It is the plunge that embraces comprehension and above all incomprehension. It is magical, crude and graceful.
It is levitation and dreams in broad daylight.
It’s mysterious and bewitching.
It is full and unintelligible.
It is the living and trembling nerve of what is today.

When it’s within reach, behold, it’s illusory because it continues being unreachable. It is the enigma of nature.
It is parambolic –
whatever that word means.

My only salvation is happiness - the atonal happiness within the essential it. Doesn’t that make sense? 

Laura Broadbent on writing about Clarice Lispector:


When I was reading Clarice Lispector's Agua Viva, I noticed that she kept on talking about "it" and saying what "it" is yet also...never saying what "it" is. I love nonsense and riddles. They make a lot of sense to me. My interviews with dead authors are the second sort of big chunk of my book In on the Great Joke.  The first chunk deals in depth with the first stanza of the Tao Te Ching. It reads:
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name. The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things. Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations. Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness. Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
(trans: Stephen Mitchell)


I spent a lot of time worrying over how this verse talks about "it" not being translatable. Yet there are hundreds of translations of it. When I wrote Clarice's response to my question "What is It?" She proved herself to be a regular every day Lao Tzu. The mystery reigns!


Laura Broadbent is the author of Oh There You Are I Can't See You Is It Raining? (Invisible Books, 2012) and In on the Great Joke (Coach House Books, 2016). She currently works as a ghostwriter for mysterious people and is primarily focused on silence otherwise.