The poet Michèle Métail was born in Paris in 1950. She studied German Language and Literature and Sinology and wrote a dissertation on variations in form in classical Chinese verse.
Métail from time to time writes poetry using formats taken from other media. In her book ‘Les horizons du sol’ (1999) she describes geological formations using a single sentence without any punctuation. In 2001, as a guest of the DAAD’s Berlin artist’s program, she wrote fragmentary snapshots of the city using a 10 x 15 photo format (which means 10 lines, each with 15 letters). The translator Elfriede Czurda translated them into German in the fictive 10 x 17 photo format in order to do justice to the particularities of the German language (‘Gehen und Schreiben. Gedächtnis-Inventar’, 2002). The diary-like notes are supplemented with photos, which also adhere to a certain structure. They are illustrations of buildings, for the most part of glass buildings, in which other buildings are reflected and whose architectonic forms are linear and cage-like. The 24 illustrations and 36 texts, which in turn refer to the given film formats, are juxtaposed with one another, but in terms of contents do not refer to one another. As in previous works, a polyphonic statement emerges. The group Les arts contigus, which she founded with Louis Roquin, is also interested in the confrontation between various forms of expression such as sculpture, literature, music, dance, performance, and installations.
In addition to always being interested in form, Métail’s verse is characterized by an interest in spoken and visual forms that attempt to explore time, space, and sound. Since 1973 many of Métail’s poems have only been published orally in so-called publications orales. In her readings, which are frequently accompanied by slide shows and performance elements, she musically modulates her voice by varying the tempo, nuance, and tone. The text functions like a score and the reading as the final creative stage in the process. The conviction that “articulating the word in the room represents writing’s highest level” has brought the author to countless readings and exhibitions in Europe and Canada. Her scholarly research is dedicated to older Chinese verse, which she also translates into French. Métail, who has received numerous awards for her work, was Samuel Fischer Visting Professor of Poetry at the Free University in Berlin, in 2005. She lives in Lasalle, France.
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