Poems and Texts

from “Postscript: A Short Film on Fascism” by Nathanaël

from “Postscript: A Short Film on Fascism” by Nathanaël in Asclepias: The Milkweeds (New York: Nightboat Books, 2015)

The island bird owes everything to its voice. In 1987, when its call was said to
have been heard for the last time, by human ears, it was measuring the span of its
life against its receivability. What its voice signalled, by way of the absence of
another voice by which to appeal to its existence, was the manner of an end. The
bird’s name is comprised of four letters of the Roman alphabet, in a language
foreign to European languages, but equivalent to itself; each of these four letters
is anticipated by an inverted apostrophe. What, of extinction, is death, is it a
death. The honeyeater did not lose its voice, its voice was lost to a lack of hearing.
If the human heard the call sound, it is that what was being received was destined
to an express elsewhere, identified as a species, and unintended for such a near
ear. An ear so near as to be haplessly incriminated. For the bird in question its
voice is the mark of its disappearance. It owes its eradicated life to it, perched,
perhaps, on an island stem, fallen from its branch.


The (self-)translating author of more than twenty books, Nathanaël writes in English and French. Her recent works include an essay on untranslatability, Sotto l’immagine (2014), the bilingual score, Sisyphus, Outdone. Theatres of the Catastrophal (2012) and the book of polylingual talks, Asclepias: The Milkweeds (2015). The essay of correspondence,Absence Where As (Claude Cahun and the Unopened Book) (2009) was first published in French as L’absence au lieu (2006). Nathanaël’s work has been translated into Basque, Greek, Slovene, Spanish (Mexico), with book-length publications in Bulgarian and Portuguese (Brazil), including the imminent Cadernos do meio, after a cycle of French carnets, following their English-language iteration, The Middle Notebookes (2015). Nathanaël’s extrinsic translations include works by Édouard Glissant, Catherine Mavrikakis, Danielle Collobert, Hervé Guibert and Hilda Hilst (the latter in collaboration with Rachel Gontijo Araújo). She has also translated a number of poets from the Americas into French, including Trish Salah, John Keene and Rachel Gontijo Araújo. The recipient of the Prix Alain- Grandbois, for …s’arrête? Je, Nathanaël’s translation of Murder by Danielle Collobert was a finalist for a Best Translated Book Award. Her translation of The Mausoleum of Lovers by Hervé Guibert was recognized by fellowships from the PEN American Center and the Centre National du Livre de France. Having permanently relinquished her prior names (Nathalie and Stephens), Nathanaël lives in Chicago.