A colleague from New Zealand emailed a listserv today looking for the source of a poem by Nicole Brossard. I eagerly lept to work, digging through a box of packed up books and pulled out my 12 volumes of her writing. These works are almost sacred to me – one of them is personally autographed for me by the author. I have combed used bookshops in Montreal and Quebec City looking for pieces of Brossard, and yet, I realized today I’ve read precious little of her writing. That is saying a lot if you consider that Brossard only writes on about 1/3 to 1/2 of each page of her usually short works and that her poetry and novels look strikingly similar. It’s not as though the number of words are getting in my way of reading them. True, she’s difficult to digest, but also true that I think she’s brilliant and love her writing.
What’s standing in the way of my reading of Brossard? Me, of course. I put off reading what I love, I put off watching the movies that I adore, I put off doing tasks that I truly enjoy because I’m saving them for later. Reading feels so indulgent to me that I’ve become quite bad at it … and this is not at all a good relationship for a literature professor to have with books.
Brossard is not the only one languishing for years in boxes waiting to be read. She is joined by Cixous, Derrida, and Sebbar who have written beautifully bound words that accumulate dust on my shelves, waiting for me to reward myself with time to read.