Eliot Cardinaux

Poet/Pianist

Category: Music

Eliot Cardinaux/Jeb Bishop: “Die Letzte Posaune”

Boston-based trombonist Jeb Bishop (formerly of Chicago – Vandermark 5, Brotzman tenet, Cutout) has been a very dear friend to me for the past 5 years since he moved into my former Boston neighborhood, Jamaica Plain, and invited me over for listening sessions. Recently we “got together” remotely, & recorded something I believe we are both really proud of. I shot & edited a short video to accompany the sounds we made.

As the story goes, there has to be a story. There was a line in the text I’m performing here, that refers to the trumpet, in biblical terms (as it appears in the hymn, “Steal Away” – check out Mat Maneri’s recent version with his mother Sonja. It’s on YouTube). I thought it might be more elusive to include trombone in the sounds I already had, rather than the obvious gesture of calling up a trumpet player & having them do “the thing,” & so I called up Jeb.

Jeb, who happens to be a German translator, in addition to playing the sh*t out of the trombone, informed me that the German “Posaune,” from the “last trumpet” passage in bible, translates literally as “trombone.” It only seemed fitting to recite the entire passage in the original German along with my prose poem, after which Jeb applied his unique musical & critical talents, not only on his horn, but in his advice on the mixing & sound-production end as well. The result is delightful to me, & I am really proud to share it with a little more context. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed collaborating on it with him.

Eliot Cardinaux — text, spoken word, video & sound production

Jeb Bishop — trombones, textual & auditory advice

Written, recorded remotely, & shot, February 17-20, 2021

“…und dasselbe plötzlich, in einem Augenblick, zur Zeit der letzten Posaune. Denn es wird die Posaune schallen, und die Toten werden auferstehen unverweslich, und wir werden verwandelt werden.” —Lutherbibel 1912 The last trombone of judgment day”

—Lutherbibel 1912

Video shot on location in Northampton, MA in front of the “Women of Northampton” mural on Masonic St.

AROUND THE FADED SUN

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When I first encountered the poetry of Paul Celan, I was going through a mental breakdown, a part of which coincided with a loss of language. I was unable to speak for several weeks. When I discovered Celan, his fragmentary reconstruction of his mother tongue, after the Nazis, who spoke the same language, killed her and his father, was a draw that lead me into some kind of a rabbit hole in the following years.

This book, Around the Faded Sun, is an homage to the importance that took on for me as a young poet just starting out, trying to revive in myself the will to speak through poetry, as well as having fallen silent in the face of atrocity.

My connection to Celan was immediate and personal in origin, and its historicity can only be applied effectively in relative terms today, from a political vantage point. That is why I am saying, there’s a mythos there that I wish to reach for here regarding Celan, and Osip Mandelstam, Celan’s poetic “brother” whom he never met, Mandelstam’s wife Nadezhda, too, and Ingeborg Bachmann, etc. René Char makes an appearance as a dedicatee, as do Bei Dao and Adonis, whose poetry speaks to the exiled condition of all poets, as well as a few friends & mentors without whom I never would have followed my artistic practice to where it has continued, in unarriving, until today. Coltrane also runs through these pages heavily.

I recently traveled to Köln, where I recorded the first two sections of this book with a band of musicians who go collectively by the name of Our Hearts as Thieves – Asger Thomsen , a bassist from DK, Jonas Engel, a saxophonist from DE, and Etienne Nillesen, a percussionist from NL – live at a venue called Loft.

(Video: Portions of a concert we performed back in 2017)

These new recordings are now mastered, and we are shopping for labels. The album, when it comes out, will be titled: What the Wildflower Witnessed. This work is difficult. My goal with the music was to see what happened when I brought this new poetry, much of which is based on Celan, into an improvising group whose format is to work with my poetry as a narrative anchor. I guess it tells the story, in poetic terms, of my interaction with the world through the lens of history, and having been thrown into music, the poetry is transformed, and allows me to see how the poems respond to outside forces & influence through the veil of noise and sound, recalling Osip Mandelstam’s prose work “The Noise of Time.” I think I succeeded in opening up a new window for myself into my process, and have started responding in my current poetry to that experience as it unfolded then, and how it unfolds now, in retrospect, as I listen back.

This whole practice stems in large part for me, from Pierre Joris’s work translating Celan, and his and many others’ scholarship surrounding both Celan & Mandelstam, such as Jerome Rothenberg, Clarence Brown, & Charles Bernstein.

In effect, these are my own “reading stations in the late word,” finding a clearing in which to speak, reading into and out of the later poetry of Paul Celan, always as if for the first time.

-Eliot Cardinaux

Purchase the paperback here: AROUND THE FADED SUN

Review: Flin van Hemmen – Casting Spells & The Coves

Casting SpellsFlin van Hemmen

Casting Spells & The Coves

Neither/Nor Records

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That feeling when a friend once again exceeds the potential you have allotted yourself, while it is difficult to allow access for yourself to write about it, is often a heartfelt shock, not at the ultimate possibility of its existence, but at the pull of its constantly veering energies, away from what you think you know.

This record pulls me, not away from itself, as the sound of a shock might elicit in our imagination, but away from my own nettled preoccupations in a world that encourages their overgrowth at the expense of clarity and simplicity.

It is strange how as writers we recycle turns of phrase, bits of language, in an effort to attain the same effect in our written word as we may find in music. No description, and ultimately only abstraction might pay homage to the nuanced uncalibration of the learnt mind that this beautiful double album affects on me.

Thank you, dear brother Flin.

WHISPERS

(Eliot Cardinaux)

For Flin van Hemmen

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Your head struck the branch

leaned the levy, listening.

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Blank and brutal walls

where a jagged shadow

crept in a mother’s hand.

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When the wind startles black,

talk only

of personal things.

.

When the well runs dry —

wishes bottled and screaming,

turn your head.

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The music in the air will feed the bees

but for us

.

is an obvious void

tainted green like copper

slanting your voice.

.

Touch the breath like shadows

touching the groin and say

farewell to me.

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New Release: Magpie: Six Feet on Solid Ground

Magpie album cover

Cover artwork by Zoe Christiansen

Magpie (DK/US)

Six Feet on Solid Ground

Eliot Cardinaux – piano, voice, poetry

Asger Thomsen – bass, objects

Jeppe Høi Justesen – drums, percussion, cymbals

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New Release: Sweet Beyond Witness

As some of you know, I have decided to pack my bags, and take leave of the city of Boston, where I have lived for the past four years. As I prepare to move out to the rural countryside of Western Massacusetts, again, I am finally gaining some much needed perspective on my life during my time here. There is evidence of that fact.

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Mindfulness––A Mantra and Afterword

Part I: Writing in, Writing out; Invention

In his book of essays, A Nomad Poetics, Pierre Joris writes of the necessity for poets not only to learn other languages, but to invent them. If it is possible to invent one’s own language, I have tried. It may as well follow that it is possible to learn—to write, indeed, even to speak in—those languages that others have invented.[1] Read the rest of this entry »

Mother of Two

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The Bodily Press

the-bodily-press

Official Press Launch
Triple Book Release & Reading
Sat. Feb. 4th, 7:00PM
@ Goodrich House
36 Goodrich Rd.
Jamaica Plain

Dear Friends,

As most of you know, I’ve been publishing small books of poetry on my own for about 4 years now; never digitally, but let’s face it – it gets lonely out there for a guy and a computer, and for a while I’ve wanted to start printing books for other people. Rare bits of music released on tape as well, go hand in hand with that, I guess. So today, The Bodily Press awakens, kneeling; and scratches its head at the altar of technology, at last. Read the rest of this entry »

AMERICAN THICKET – OUT NOW on Loyal Label

Photo by Michelle Arcila Opsvik

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RE-EMERGING PIANIST, POET AND COMPOSER ELIOT CARDINAUX OFFERS UP AMERICAN THICKET, HIS DEBUT ALBUM AS A LEADER ON LOYAL LABEL, A HAUNTING RIFLE THROUGH THE UNDERGROWTH OF AMERICAN RURAL CULTURE IN TENSILE IMPROVISATIONS AND VERSE

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Music and the Mechanics of a Beloved Creature

Existential answers, like the answers provided by some religions, are a means by which we attempt to find comfort in the present moment. A good example would be this: if someone is going through a rough time, and consequently finds out that others around him are also going through a rough time, that person might find an answer in astrology: say, “Mercury is in retrograde.” The flip side of this answer might be that Read the rest of this entry »