A lap of the track with Maxime Morel
Photo © Sarah Lefèvre
Maxime Morel was born in Paris in 1986. He lives between Paris, Bayonne and Exopotamia. When he is not on the road, he teaches writing and art history at the ESAPB (Basque country art school).
Otherwise, he spends a lot of time looking outside, walking on towpaths, working and reading in bed, figuring out how and where to put his legs, writing to friends and cooking huge vegetable dishes.
His eyes are filled with fast landscapes, pine trees, factories, dikes, ring-necked parakeets, paleolithic worlds, useless information gleaned from the Internet, people who open their arms, wild joys, animal documentaries, crazy hair, little notes.
Takeoff runway or landing runway?
Both ! It takes off and lands in Poetry-Paléo . A whole part of the text is nourished by borrowings, collages, diversions. In this way, we could say that PP is a landing strip of which I would be the traffic controller. I picked up a lot from Emiliy Dickinson; apart from the poetic force as such, I really like its relationship to observation. And it also crosses geographies between the Basque Country and America. There are plenty of other landings: Lenore Kandel for example, who I recently discovered in Beat Attitude – Women Poets of the Beat Generation . I really like the poems related to his sexual experiences.
There are also registers of texts that end up there without really being asked. This is somewhat the case for the part that I devote to the Paleo diet: the origin of the texts comes from various nutrition sites.
But once it lands, it is immediately relaunched in the text and in life. All these borrowings are also a way for me to bring these fragments of texts back into play. To show how our view is shaped from our readings, from what we see elsewhere.
How poetry clings to life (and vice versa)
Cycle path or wild trail?
Both. It’s a fragile balance, you need something cycleable and something wild. I am very attached to the question of the general structure of the text. I find it very difficult to consider a “poem” alone. Each text of Paleo-Poetry unfolds in relation to the others. There are moments of breathing, calmer, which are less interesting as texts, but which also allow us to lead to other, wilder moments. I was very struck by American poets, who deploy this idea of cycle/wilderness paths in very tangible spaces. This is the case of William Carlos Williams with Paterson, and also of Eleni Sikelianos with the great Poem California .
The idea of the track also interests me because it places the poetic form outward. I am rarely sensitive to language games that are a little abstract, or very off-the-ground.
Circus floor or dance floor?
Dancing rather. Sometimes, when I'm on the bike, I really feel like I'm doing dance movements, between my forearms, my calves, my thighs, my buttocks.
Once, I looked at the seaside for so long, at the waves against a sea wall in Anglet, that the foam really began to look like little dancing ghosts.
And then water, in many forms, dances a lot in the Basque Country. She also sculpts all the landscapes, a discreet and slow dance, which takes time.
Green slope, black slope or off-piste?
A bit of all three. The real protagonist of PP is a small, invisible character who exists between me and the world. It's called writing. And it can go almost anywhere! But he takes it slowly, and often he has to come back to the same place several times.
Dice track or sound track?
More like sound tracks. There's something I only do with my mp3: I just listen to the first few seconds of successive songs. That's a funny thing. Sometimes it's just applause because I like live performances.
Treasure hunt or trick?
I quite like the idea of the treasure hunt. Working at PP , I went out a lot, I wrote a lot about the landscape, in a certain solitude. But they were very happy, very playful moments. With the idea yes, of being caught up in a big game with the landscape, with somewhat specific protocols.
We had to look for lots of clues in the landscape, try to discover or remember what had happened, try to imagine them in lots of ways.
Food for thought or work?
More of a reflection. I have always considered the poetic form also as the place of knowledge. In this sense, I feel quite close to a certain surrealist idea of poetry, a poetry which explores, which is a mode of knowledge.
Multitrack or utopian?
Utopian, thoroughly. I deeply believe in a thought of utopia, not one which foresees how it should be , as a rigid framework (besides, the thinkers of utopia do not envisage it like that at all), but rather as machines to explode the imagination, pulverize all our certainties about the way we live, indicate other directions.
The poetic form is part of a certain thought of utopia, at least in the register that I am exploring.
It can make us think and feel the world differently: by multiplying the layers of the sensitive, by highlighting the way in which beings and things metamorphose, by showing other ways of inhabiting the world.
She does it with her own language, which seems fundamental to me. She invents a language commensurate with the world she seeks to indicate and describe.
Poetry or Paleo?
First the poetry! I have had a small, fragmentary activity for around fifteen years, which takes place in several ways, notably in the teaching of writing at the ESAPB (Basque Country art school). But to write and publish a poetic body of work, you need a fairly unique alignment of the stars. Things started to get sorted from the beginning of 2018 with Cézanne, the industrial port of Boucau, the caves in the Basque Country and cycling.
Otherwise, reading poetry has been with me since adolescence. This is the genre I read mostly, along with the essays.
There are many publishers of contemporary poetry in France. At the same time, everyone spends their time saying that no one reads poetry, and every year, my ESAPB students demonstrate a taste, even a rather crazy passion, for writing and poetry. poetic reading. A part of contemporary French poetry, too purely conceptual or aristocratic, nevertheless keeps me at a distance.
I have always followed a lot of what Corti editions were doing, particularly in the American series, like with Larry Eigner, Lorine Niedecker, Paul Blackburn, Claudia Rankine, and others. And then, I also like the idea of a relationship with poetry that is translated. It's immediately a way of taking her down from a pedestal on which she is sometimes. I don't really believe in the sacredness of language.
Paleo also comes in stages. On the one hand, I'm crazy about history and art history, and the echoes that it can generate with poetry (I'm thinking in particular of Charles Olson or Cole Swensen). The way times blend together. And then there too I could talk about an alignment of the stars: in 2018, I was commissioned to teach a course on Cézanne for the École du Louvre. Which didn't please me at first, since I had some serious preconceptions about him. Eventually, I became completely haunted by his work, searching for every Cézanne I could see, particularly in London, Paris, Lyon etc...
At the same time, a little before the Pompidou exhibition on prehistory and modern art, I visited the caves of Isturitz and Oxocelhaya several times, I read more and more about the Paleolithic. Various elements that I recall in Poésie-Paléo seem downright crazy to me and there we go! And we could say that it ended during the summer of 2020, when I had the impression of being in one of the versions of Cézanne's Bathers , with friends at the beach...