When Witch Anastasia’s censorship role is taken over by insidious cybercensorship
In a world invaded by pragmatism, poetry seems anything but useful. By this, I mean: classical poetry, with rhymes, regular meters, fixed forms, and a musical language intended to induce dreaming.
Nobody writes such poetry anymore. Nobody reads it anyway.
In a word, it has become obsolete. However, widespread this opinion may be, it doesn’t reflect reality. Indeed, despite appearances, the muses Calliope and Erato somehow still attract a few passionate lovers.
The reason they remain unnoticed is that they practice their art almost in secret. Publishers look askance at such work, considering it not profitable enough. Readers will ignore them. Worse still, any excuse seems good enough to keep them quiet, even backstabbing and cheap shots.
This is the case of Chaunes. Under this pen name, Chaunes hides an undisputable and leading light, collects literary prizes and presides over the European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Letters. His poetry, though rich, is destined for a happy few. His following is as confidential as it is faithful.
But even this is already too much. His very existence disturbs accepted correctness and upsets conventional cowardice. His latest anthology Voiles et nudité (Veils and nudity) raises a taboo subject.
To aggravate matters, the illustrated cover of his book displays a magnificent, lascivious and naked creature imprisoned in a burka. It contains alexandrines in the style:
“Le voile est-il un frein aux ardeurs d’un amant
ou met-il au contraire un piment dans la sauce ?”
(Is the veil an obstacle to a lover’s passion / or, on the contrary, does it spice things up?)
A sacrilegious question!
Such blasphemy must be gagged as soon as possible.
Amazon has taken care of it. Soon after the book’s release, defying all credibility and yielding to some mysterious occult pressure, the website announced it as “currently unavailable” on Amazon.fr’s web site [Editor’s note: the exact same book is, however, available on Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com].
So the author is now sharing a furious response with the public. Under the title Traité sur l’Ennui dans une Nation française soumise à la cybercensure (Treatise on boredom in a French nation subjected to cyber censorship), he has re-published his burst of delicious and vengeful sonnets concluding with a “Dialogue du Voile intégral et de la Feuille de vigne” (Dialogue of the full veil and the fig leaf).
Alas, on the cover of the book, no more nude beauty. The niqab covers all. Is this some dark foreboding?
Article reproduced with kind permission from the author from an original article entitled Voile intégral sur la poésie, published in Service littéraire magazine, No 102, January 2017.
Translation from French by Sonia Grunenwald.
Illustration credit: André Gill: Madame Anastasie. L’Eclipse 1874, 299.