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An alphabet is sometimes discovered in childhood with wonder. It took me longer because I was not sensitive enough to realize the inherent beauty or magic of a letter. This may be because I was not an avid reader, and letters only helped me to essay the sounds of words. Not until I was much older did they take on an attraction of their own, not until I began to study Greek and Arabic. Their physical formation gave me a delight I could not have imag- ined, and writing from left to right in the formation of words in Arabic was particularly moving. Al- though I never undertook a study of Hebrew, the subsequent understanding of the encoding of hid- den meanings in letters in such a way as to reveal a hidden order of the universe bore for me a signifi- cance that frequently returns to me while writing a poem.
The invitation to write a series of poems on the let- ters of the alphabet came to me as a gift from the Holy Spirit. I would not have known how to ap- proach the invitation had it not come through in- termediaries, namely my friends, Lucie Lambert and Robert Melançon. Lucie provided the letter il- luminated and Robert provided the letter and its sounds in such a playfully formal manner that I was given the clue how to respond. When I began to write my part, I had the example of a handful of Robert’s poems that struck me as just what I needed. The form is that of a huitain, which I did not follow quite as strictly as Robert, but which echoes a favourite French stanza of the late Middle Ages. At once formal and playful, it allows for both seriousness and surprises, both of which I under- stand as part of the character of an alphabet, which is capable of so many combinations of assonance and alliteration, as well as other hidden effects.
Because I think the kabbalah and its play with He- brew letters reflects a truth that should not be neg- lected, I arranged my letters in a sequence designed to suggest the quasi-divine character of letters. To my knowledge the bible does not mention the al- phabet, perhaps because of the dominant orality of its presentation, beginning with the mere fact that God need only speak for things to be. My assump- tion is, then, that God alone did not create alpha- bets, but because they have capabilities that appear to accommodate more than mere reason they seem to have some kind of divine aura, at least. That aura is suggested in Lucie’s illuminations. My desire was to suggest the gradual cooperation between the human and the divine as a mutual discovery that starts in uncertainty and begins to flower when the letter ‘L’ is reached, permitting the formation of the word ‘letter’ at almost the centre of the alphabet.
Letters are not, paradox as it may appear, literal, which is why they are so fascinating. They wait to be filled with meaning, and so in themselves repre- sent all the things in the world that await their vari- ous meanings. This is true, at least, for the Roman alphabet. The letters of Sanskrit, for example, have meanings in themselves, which would have only complicatedourtask. Becauseouralphabetises- sentially empty, its power is not always immediately manifest. Once perceived, however, in their trans- formative power, light begins to happen as if it had never happened before, emptiness is filled in con- tinually changing ways, and wonder takes on its un- expected shapes.
Jan 3, 2012
Lucie Lambert Editions , BC, Canada TEL/ FAX 604-732-9389 mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org