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This review is taken from PN Review 107, Volume 22 Number 3, January - February 1996.

OCEANIC FEELINGS JEANNINE BAUDE, C'était un paysage, Océan, Concerto pour une roche (Mortemart: Rougerie)

Jeannine Baude gazes into distances, both outer and inner, and yet pares her language down to the barest essentials. The effect is exhilarating. The ocean is a constant preoccupation, an imaginative leitmotif, whether she is directly evoking it or writing even of Arizona and New Mexico as she did in an early collection, Parabole de l'éolienne, or in a Paris Métro station, from where she dates one sequence in Océan. The exploration of enclosure and openness central to her fine 1989 collection, Ouessanes, is continued in these more recent volumes, and the language remains incisive.

Writing, as I happen to be, from a temporary fastness overlooking Baltimore bay, I am struck by the particular consonance between the spare and rugged qualities of Baude's poetry and everyday experiences in the west of Ireland. This is less surprising than may at first appear, since although she lives in Marseille, she escapes to Brittany, to the Isle of Ushant no less, for her summer breaks, and her work is infused with the sparse collocation of elemental simplidties found there. (She even evokes Yeats and Russell - '/E' - in passing Yet if individual poems are generally reduced to a few words, a few short lines, they are not only unpunctuated to emphasise their continuity, but are also gathered in sequences, like drystone walls laced with light - as they are here to stand up better to the wind's often ferocious battering. What is more, a poem hints at just a ...


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