Anselm Hollo


rue Wilson Monday


88 pages

7 x 9.5 inches

ISBN: 1-888809-22-1



Motoring Off the Map a review by Gregory Farnum


from the Author’s Preface—

“When I was invited to spend five months in France, in an old hotel long frequented by artists and writers, I decided to write something that would NOT be your typical ‘sabbatical poem’—that familiar rumination, by the U.S. American academic (temporary) expatriate, ‘on’ the Mona Lisa, Baudelaire’s grave, or ‘how different all this is from back home in Missoula. Montana!’

“I believe that rue Wilson Monday turned out to be something possibly more interesting: a hybrid of day book, informal sonnet sequence, and extended, ‘laminated’ essay-poem, with an aesthetic (dare I say lyricism?) perhaps better understood by our younger generation of poets than by their predecessors, those mid-twentieth century traveloguists. Works I found particularly inspiring in my endeavor were Ted Berrigan’s The Sonnets and Edward Dorn’s Abhorrences—books that will make me chuckle and weep to the end of my days. The book received its title from French poet Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1913 poem ‘Lundi rue Christine’ (Monday rue Christine), a Cubist work composed almost entirely out of verbatim speech from various conversations in a cafe.

“In rue Wilson Monday, similar conversations take place in and around my head during that stay (August 1998 / January 1999) at the Hotel Chevillon, an artists’ and writers’ retreat in the small town of Grez-sur-Loing. Back in 1876, Robert Louis Stevenson came to visit his cousin Robert at this hotel, whose present street address is 114 rue Wilson, ‘La Rue Grande’ (Main Street) back then. There he met Fanny Osbourne, the woman he was to pursue across the Atlantic and the North American continent and eventually marry. To invite the reader to participate in my often elliptical conversations with these folks, I have provided footnotes, and these too are an integral part of the poem and the conversation.”

Lovely? Deep? Funny? Angular? Brainy? Conversational? Literary? Goofy? Elegaic? Agile? And all at the same time? How does the great Anselm Hollo do it? Read rue Wilson Monday and find out!

— Ron Padgett


Anselm Hollo was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1934 and was educated there and in the United States. In his early twenties, he left Finland to live and work as a writer and translator, first in Germany and Austria, then in London. For the last thirty years, Hollo has lived in the United States, teaching creative writing and literary translation at numerous universities including SUNY Buffalo, University of Iowa, and the University of Colorado. He is now Associate Professor in the Graduate Writing and Poetics Department at The Naropa Institute in Boulder. Author of more than thirty books, Hollo’s poetry has been widely anthologized, and it has been translated into Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, and Swedish.


from Rue Wilson Monday
Anselm Hollo

carriage purrs man whistles pounds post
in distant rocky dark
reason, weaving, brabbles
cognition digs tunnel through Charlot's suitcase
zoom cog motion seagull cry
arms around everything
parallel out of someone
else's heaven tunnels
behind doors past
lit-up, frontal, still convinced
climb reviewed
now cautious move to igloo syntax
doodle on smoke
watch reflections flounce


once again butterfly pulse entire percept
fictional jolt of eye: arms, yarns
hit me adventure come kiss me sadness
as if me had me still
in this ocean of "socio-political & aesthetic"
idiot electric catacomb gibberish
tumbling billows of stuff
something there is in man
wants to be top big banana baboon
but I am not Robert Frost I am a baboon
mad about the planet even this week
in the America that was it had that phrasing
ecstatic articulate and beaucoup
beaucoup conscious disquiet


now does the blissful somnambule recluster
a dream a flesh-colored dream? say what?
how to identify the ones who tend to war
& what to do about them discuss
on different color paper free up text
from fuzzy spaces inside head. hey,
are these walls "of" someplace? he stood
a veteran user of mind's ear
for tales of The Device
mortals love noise hurled into gaping flesh
well maybe yes. roll eyes round écriture
distortion makes you enemies
so either "say" things or it's endless postpreface
the elsewhere gunfire problem whose is it


the general infantilization
that became a groundswell of our century (said Eva)
not that we weren't part of it
when we were young & cruel
"deny yourself nothing" well that's one theory
only the creature knows its awful secret joys
and the mobile digressive figments collide (said Ann)
and people don't read
poetry because uncertainty
is associated with punishment (said Mark)
is stupid attention better than no attention
what about hissing a poem instead of the usual
soulful quaver or well-rehearsed scream
when your memory goes forget it (said Utah)


gates waterfalls shifting horizons
plastic halberds gentle fugitives
una Beatrice on the ramparts of Carcassonne
in black miniskirt more like Juliette Greco
is she thinking of "Raymond the Cathar Count of Toulouse"
fat chance she's gazing at sudden
flock of paragliders in the sky
while the guide drones on & I think of
"fictitious employment by no means uncommon in France"
he means government employment
fictitious government employment
but then government is fictitious too
as are the governed much of the time
look for yourself in this pebble or pencil


now does he know how to beam? contented?
grow fuzzy? nothing wrong with fuzzy
blissful? feel some place
keep stupid demons at bay
let them go or go on
hammering nothing in Nothing Land -
this be quite different
from crazy hot soul of sudden beginnings
cluttered & ever 'novel' inside
yes that did make for impetuous bellows
violent staggerings irritating ruins
before it all settled into rose debris;
so locate old hotel before books close
on trundling troubadours. semicolon


draped in defiance & bewildered hair
not up to the waves of the task
ready for the big mallet yet still chanting
"what vast sky wagons? what balloon yard?
what order to this?"
praying for door back to scale
begin the beguine may body begin
to turn the big barrel climb mountain
regain some sense of basic human
ever esurient for flash of meaning
our minds too orderly
in ways too predictable
so fill in the blank
between fedora and wingtip shoes


came down the old oaken stairs he must also have trod
who wrote "old and young, we are all on our last cruise"
and "to know what you like is the beginning of wisdom
and of old age" or up those stairs again, to read: "the old
appear in conversation in two characters:
the critically silent
and the garrulous anecdotic" Cousin Louis
who first met his Fanny here thanks to Cousin Bob
who was the more dashing the model for Alan Breck
and perhaps the dark Master of Ballantrae
when first we came here in August the pigeons next door
said coo-COO coo-coo coo-COO coo-coo
but now in November it's only coo-coo-COO
coo-coo-COO so, time to go, soon


"that the ants seem to wobble
as the morning sun catches their shadows"
not with us "too much" at all
not with us very long at all the sun the ants
the wobbling shadows all too hung up we be
on a civilization devoted to the speechless stare
punctuated by mindless speech
(& WHO is likely to read
these headthrob grumblespeak lyrics?)
"because they do not understand that cacophony
is at least as intricate an art as harmony"
& she cries out in her dream "where are you going?"
infinitesimal moods for milliseconds
kindly provide a theme for these variations


crackle crackle "good" "history"?
verify tales of each ego?
crackle crackle cerebral twitch
who slipped on the caviar?
who broke the hammer clavier?
& that was by Stupid Staggering Desirée
(Jean Baudrillard's favorite group) (who he?)
(I think he invented The Meter)
(well take him back to the meter office)
& that is so bad it's really kinda great
crackle crackle screeches whistles & ululations
(you say communists, bro? those really happen?)
hand me the righteous indignation but first
let me negotiate this corniche


Title: after Guillaume Apollinaire's poem "Lundi rue Christine." Its translator Oliver Bernard says: "Presumably almost all of this poem is verbatim speech from various conversations in a café." In "rue Wilson Monday," similar conversations take place in the scribe's caffeined head, during a five-month stay in a small French town.
Charlot: French nickname for Charlie Chaplin in early silent movies.
"Eva" - Eva Hesse, Pound's German translator, essayist. "Ann" - Ann Lauterbach. "Mark" - Mark Wallace. "Utah" - Utah Phillips. Great singers all.
In 1876, Robert Louis Stevenson came to visit his cousin Robert - then a painter, later a lawyer, but also the author of good book on Diego Velazquez - at the Hotel Chevillon (114 rue Wilson, back then "La Rue Grande"), where he met Fanny Osbourne, the woman he was to pursue across the Atlantic and the North American continent and eventually marry.
"that the ants seem to wobble / as the morning sun catches their shadows" -- EP, Canto LXXX, p. 105 in The Pisan Cantos (London: Faber & Faber, 1949).
"because they do not understand that cacophony is at least as intricate an art as harmony" -- Basil Bunting, "The Lion and the Lizard," p. 30 in Three Essays (Durham: Basil Bunting Poetry Centre, 1994).