Dominique Hecq has written over twenty books across genres and disciplines—and across tongues. Recent publications include Hush: A Fugue (2017), Hors Limites (2018), After Cage (2019) and Kaosmos (2020). Hecq is a recipient of the 2018 International Best Poets Prize administered by the International Poetry Translation and Research Centre in conjunction with the International Academy of Arts and Letters.

Chantal Danjou is the author of thirty works, recent poetry titles include L’ancêtre sans visage (2016), L’Ombre et l’invisible (2017); prose titles comprise La Jumelle qui dansait au milieu du jour (novel) and Le Souffle du noir (essay). Chantal Danjou is chair of the executive committee for the new literary journal Décision, named after its 1941 avant-garde New York precursor.

The unwriting of disaster

This multi-generic bilingual piece is sourced from our Journal off-beat (forthcoming), begun in the aftermath of the 2019 Paris International Poetry Festival. It was brought to a conclusion on 22 March 2020 after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. The March entries convey how hope wrestles with despair and confusion. We sensed that the pandemic symbolised a warning of something worse to come. This is reflected in the liquefying of the text in journal entries and poetic responses from mid-March onwards. At that point Maurice Blanchot’s The Writing of Disaster became a backdrop for making sense of the global crisis which, like the idea of the apocalypse, seemed to arise from the unknown with an inkling towards endless deferral. Unlike Blanchot’s book, however, ‘The unwriting of disaster’ proclaims the continuing relevance of art in our lives and confirms how writing deepens our connection as human beings.

Keywords: journal; testimony; collaboration; genre; disaster