All those things that make the night crack, by Cécile A. Holdban, by Marc Wetzel

A column by Marc Wetzel

Cécile A. HOLDBAN (texts and drawings) – All these things that make the night crack – Exopotamie editions – June 2023, 108 pages, €17

Double work – seeing and saying

the Earth does not arise

so many questions ” (205)

but yes, yes, precisely!

Like (with equal talent!) a painter And poet, Cécile Holdban could not miss the opportunity to both show And tell nature. Being able to handle the sketch and the hai-ku together, as in this book, is not so common – but two means are better than one to express its mystery. Because if nature is easy to define (it is the spontaneous self-production of the continuous whole of things), and to locate (it is both independent of man since it only produced him very late , and yet exposed to the action of man because it is in her – and not in another reality from which it could shelter, to which it would not be exposed – that it has endowed man with capacities which he can thus turn against it), many uncertainties remain: we are not not sure of its divine origin, we do not know if there are “laws of nature” outside of our mind which formulates and applies them, we do not even know if its way of producing itself is a technique, a know-how, that is to say whether or not it is necessary to endow nature with a know how to do it . What is beyond doubt is that it has shapes and colors allowing our landscapes, and codes and rhythms allowing our songs – but here we are: we note without understanding them well the ways it has to ensure its sustainability, to control its stability and to take advantage of its immensity. Which is certain, it's that nature is active, as are painting and poetry (where photography can be content to record what appears, painting must itself develop its light, and handle its means of presence in front of it; similarly, where prosaic discourse can let syntax do its thing, and ignore the proper noise of meaning, poetry imperatively controls the rules of its words, and makes it its duty to sound true). But if painting and poetry are also active, it is rare (and precious) that they act together, as they do here.

In what order, in the author's mind, do they do it? Often, the painter's eye has clearly inaugurated the sequence:

Waltz of swifts
on a white sky:
inverted snow » (101)

The painter raised her eyes: she seen these black flakes float in the immense white volume of the air, and it is what she was able to see which allows her to formulate: snow upside down. But here it is: it was already a poet who directed the painter's eye. For example, the word “ideogram” already haunts his fleeting view of the moving reflections of the bottom of his own bare legs. The rare word must already haunt her to reveal to itself this play of light placed on her:

The shadow of the foliage
on my calves
ideograms ” (129)

Most often, the two Muses are in sync, and have only one same movement in this complete artist. To paint is to know how to get the material itself to tell us what it is; to versify, conversely, is to obtain from the word that, literally, it shows us what it causes to be. The poet says it superbly (195), then the painter does it (she shows the real locker room, the secret fitting room still in progress – pylons, wires and tonal discharges – of physical reality):

« Painting eyes
on the stones
so that they open them

Cécile Holdban expresses it in its title: it first wants to surprise reality in its nighttime cracking noises . “ Crackling ” means both a rupture and a sound emission, it is both a contrast (pictorial) and an echo (poetic). Just as temperature variations cause wood to crack (the small part of the hearth, the large piece of furniture), pressure variations cause shells on the path, variations in tension the joints of a body, or the play of stress causes them to crack. souls, reality signals in a sharp sound what is coming to undo or remake it. The onomatopoeia (“crack”) is itself – like gurgling And clicking – the art that a word has of depicting the sound of its object. But it is the very sound of its becoming that we must here restore from nature, its own (intimate, prodigious, itself haunted) art of re-obtaining itself with each change.

A chapter of the collection is entitled, for example, “Adagio, andante”: it is not simply an external musicalization of the course of things, they are, respectively, ease and the going of nature which express themselves ("adagio", it is, in fact, etymologically, easy adjacency, the fact of being comfortable with oneself by knowing how to find oneself in the successive positions that one takes, comfortably redispose of its own forms; and “andante” says the lively regularity of its course – from Latin words (ambio, ambitus, etc.) expressing the optimal organization of its twists and turns, the course content with its meanders). So, getting used to what they become , know how to change the size of the shadows, the leaps of the beasts, the angles of the wavering ones:

The shadow is lengthening
She swims
with the stream ” (136)

« Gray twigs
before they jump
the grasshoppers ” (145)

Which of the pine or me
bows best
on the way up? » (164)

There remains the spiritual question (which Cécile Holdban does not dodge): can art educate our natural stay (is it up to him to contribute to it? how can we compensate for the autumn experienced by a created spring?): is it only a spring for fun, this art which artificially renews the leaves of life which has fallen by itself to its season? Cécile Holdban then simply makes us see and sing more closely the true fall of the leaves, their petiole which is scuttled, dissolves its own walls, takes care to repatriate the digestible substances and chlorophyll to the stem, and to heal the wound to prevent conductive tissues from draining like gargoyles. Art, which then comes against abscission, connects, reworks, reinvents – but always monitoring life within it, and respecting death outside:

« Draw leaves
on the trees
inverted autumn » (160)
Sometimes death invites itself
at the big table
we have lunch ” (170)

It is here, first and always, a work of honor (of increasing our attention to the greatness of things). Honoring plant stability by making it the staircase of view; honoring animal vulnerability in physiological empathy; honor the true brilliance of things by understanding the intermittency of their diamonds, respecting the normally simple glimmers of a light which does not have to illuminate itself:

The eye climbs
by the scale of the leaves
towards the peaks ” (143)

Distant gunshots
I feel like a deer ” (92)

It’s a sparkle
too brief
to cry ” (171)

And also honor those who gave our mouths the taste of their words, and our hands that of their gestures:

My mother

picking herbs

in a floating clearing ” (86)

Perfect example of the wonderful work of recent editions Exopotamia , this collection “ written ” by Cécile Holdban also honors, very strongly, soberly and surely, painting and poetry, by making a reason for hope from what they know, magically together , for us:

In the breath of the sky

we feel

a smell of the future ” (116)

© Marc Wetzel

Link here:

Cécile A. HOLDBAN (texts and drawings) – All these things that make the night crack – Exopotamie éditions – April 2023, 106 pages, €17 | Traversées, literary review (