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Ton nom de vegetal.

Jeanne Hyvrard. Ton nom de vegetal. Laval, Quebec. Trois. 1999. 384 pages. ISBN 2-920887-97-1.

FROM LES PRUNES DE CYTHERE (1975) and Le corps defunt de la comedie (1982) to La baisure / Que se partagent encore les eaux (1985), Canal de la Tousaint (1986), La pensee corps (1989), and beyond, the work of Jeanne Hyvrard has carved out a very particular place in the annals of contemporary literature. Highly poetic, lyrical, and flagrantly intense, it is a work that yet remains firmly anchored in the real despite its visionary and utopian urgency, documented, archival, seemingly irrefutable despite its own desire for (self-)transcendence and (self-)transformation.

Ton nom de vegetal is a sweeping poetic narrative, personal and planetary in its pertinence, delirious and neoliturgical in the obsessive rhythmic deployment of the observations and desires that underpin it. The book retraces the myth of the world as a locus of "lack," absence, at best as the place of an "effort of traversing it to understand it." This retracing does not stop there, however, for its very effort constitutes a refusal of the "lack" it nevertheless inscribes. Memory here offers no commemoration but creates a theoretical -- unless we see language as a pragmatics and not just an empty "procession" (theoria) of pure feasibility -- springboard for a collective transmutation. The book may be felt to be "impossible," but equally it fills up "ces larges trous dans le savoir du monde" and projects an imaginable adoration of body and mind of the other, a conscious choice of humanism over misogyny, of health over sickness.

Beyond the recorded pain and despair, then, Ton nom de vegetal urges a characteristic abandonment of the self -- all selves -- to the healing mystery of the "great hurricane of the universe," a wild, deep, metaphysical, cosmic ease among one another within one another. "Comment nommer convalescence," Jeanne Hyvrard asks, answering herself without hesitation: "l'operation qui consiste a recreer le monde et a le cosigner." And this co-signing of being, our being together, is of course what lies at the root of all her writing: not a reversal or seizure of power, but a negotiated contract of love, joy, and respect, a reorigination of who we are, can be, together.

Michael Bishop Dalhousie University
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Bishop, Michael
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 2000
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