Anne Tardos

1999 • 96 pp. • $15.00
ISBN: 9781882022120
Plurilingual poetry with digitally modified video images
(Published with Tuumba Press)

Purchased from Small Press Distribution

Uxudo is a musical text, although its medium is visual and verbal. The verbal component is termed “plurilingual” by the author. Using German, English, Hungarian, French, as well as invented words, Anne Tardos builds her poems out of sounds which reflect both remembered and current experiences in the world. The accompanying visual image are not mere illustrations. They emerge from a life’s mysterious terrain and remain as non-verbal memories.

“Uxudo—a word, we’re told, produced by computer error, and . . . the only non-‘real’ word here—invites the reader into a world of . . . semantic and phonologic echoes, an effect furthered by being grafted onto video stills . . .”
—Publishers Weekly

“Anne Tardos’s Uxudo combines extreme sophistication with great warmth. By using the linguistic, the filmic, the nonlinear, her surface becomes dimensional, what I want to call an acute net, in the sense of crossings. Time and mourning support from the outside. This is exciting and tremendously moving.”
—Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

Uxudo, a gift from technology, illuminated manuscript. Illuminated not as in ‘illustrated,’ but luminous, interactive in a sense that Blake would have understood. Or Zukofsky: that language is eyes. Ears, echoes. That, in fact, language itself, in our time certainly, must always be plural: a system of differences, midrashim to an Ur-text that never existed but perpetually surrounds us. Place exists, but entirely as displacement. These marvelous works reveal our time with remarkable precision, generosity and wit. Anne Tardos sees, hears, writes, films, acts with a clarity that is breathtaking:

Ivan was terrible.
Who am I really?
Räuberträume follitude

—Ron Silliman

“Anne Tardos is an extaordinary poet and visual artist who grew up in four languages—French, Hungarian, German, and English. This did not confuse her at all. Instead it fed her sonne & licht sense of humor. Uxudo has many dimensions. It is faux autobiography of the truest kind. It is language play without rival—a transgeneric play of trans: (plug in suffix) -gression, -(e)lation, -formation, -figuration. From wonderful near-paradox like ‘The audience’s willingness to be amused is not to be taken lightly’ to the compound intelligence of ‘unique promise-foam,’ ‘oh-deed on laudanum,’ and ‘Räuberträume follitude’ Uxudo is another Tardos tour-das-wunderbare!”
—Joan Retallack

From Caroline Bergvall’s Foreword:

It is in the rapid language switches that the plurilingual text first and foremost announces itself. It’s in the stop-start structure which routes out the languages framed and in use, and the various ways in which they intersect, through mixed speech, borrowings and compounds, and neologistic sounding games, that the mechanics and polemics of such a textual environment find themselves defined. The reader, pressed hard between words written in language they don’t know, words written in language they know, words written in language they thought they knew.

. . . The intricacies of such disruptive, uprooted dealings inevitably add humourous correspondences to the work. Nothing equals another thing equals another equals another. In cross-lingual pollination, the linguistic sign seems as differential as any saussurean stylistics might wish for it. And the sonic games, cross-lingual puns, private riddles and neological turns which, rather gleefully, punctuate most of the plurilingual work I have come across, would seem to push this point.

. . . This framed echo-chamber does not illustrate nor translate. Nor does it erase its elements into one, seamless, cohesive readerliness. It enriches its gymnastics of clues and games of tones with clashes between personal grammars and social usage. Only the precision of such divided attentions can carry off the emotive and psycho-social genealogies which the plurilingual text is interjecting into the overall cultural body.


Anne Tardos is a poet, visual artist, and composer. She is the author of several books of poetry and multimedia performance works, including her composition Among Men. Her recent books include The Dik-dik’s Solitude (Granary Books, 2003), I Am You, (Salt Publishing, 2008), and Both Poems (Roof, 2011). She is also the editor of Jackson Mac Low’s Thing of Beauty (University of California Press, 2008), and 154 Forties (Counterpath Press, 2012). She is a 2009 Fellow in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Tardos lives in New York, with her husband, Michael Byron.


From Juliana Spahr’s review in St. Marks Poetry Project Newsletter:

Anne Tardos’s Uxudo is one of the more extreme examples of multilingual writing that I have read. It is written in English, French, German, Hungarian, and neologisms. On the right side of the book are words and images (the images are of Tardos’s family). The left side of the book contains something that resembles translation (here it seems assumed the reader is fluent in English). Languages in Uxudo are often presented as connected. So the right side of the first piece states in part:

Panic in the
Strassen kein
Watery armory
hip-hop Gefäss

And then parallel on the left side:

viszivilág = [vee-see-vee-lag] = viszi = carries off / nimmt mit sich /
(világ = world / Welt / monde)

This right and left split construction of the book points to how connection is the dominant compositional mode. Languages are mixed on the right side. The left side, connected with the right, presents footnotes of sort in which several languages are further connected through translation. And an additional connective link to this chain of language reference is the family photographs which appear in the background of many of the pages. While these photographs might feel arbitrary, this connection between the familiar (the family photographs; the meanings in the poems themselves) and the cultural (the languages) is crucial. This work presents a space where the familiar is multi-vernacular. And as there are few more consequent ideologies that affect our social structures than the family, these poems also point to how the familiar is at every level engaged with the violently contested landscapes of nations.

This connective intent in Uxudo suggests that what we are dealing with in part is something familiar, something intimate about languages. And one way to read these poems is as a peculiar sort of realism for Tardos’s life of polylingual fluency. Tardos is so fluent because her parents were in the French resistance and thus were constantly moving to avoid the rise of antisemitism that accompanied WWII. And yet to just say such work represents a sort of realism seems to me to also be selling Uxudo short. . . .

[B]ut what interests me about Uxudo is the way that it illustrates the complex negotiation that is necessarily always occurring between cosmopolitanism and separatism. Tardos’s work is cosmopolitan in influence and feel. Its language base is primarily European. (Cosmopolitan multilingualism tends to use European languages while post-imperialist multilingualism tends to present a wider range of languages; however, post-imperialist works often use English as a dominant, base language.) And its subject matter is more familiar and personal than cultural.

Yet Uxudo, written out of languages learned in avoidance of antiSemitism, does not have the utopianism of Jolas and Joyce’s cosmopolitanism. It is too aware of what comes after Jolas’s and Joyce’s writings, of the various political upheavals that have forced people to negotiate a range of languages. Instead of unified pluralism, instead of melting pots, Tardos presents a right page of joined languages (perhaps of cosmopolitanism) but then a left page that respectfully sorts it out with multilingual translations pointedly joined with equal signs. I like to read these lists of words joined with equal signs as a new sort of pluralism where languages’s separations are acknowledged. Uxudo is sensitive to the contingency and permeability of borders yet it does not abandon the particularism of sovereignty, the universalism of global culture, or the productive tension between the two. Instead its intent is connective, is to encourage the cross-cultural communication desired in cosmopolitanism without drowning out the culturally specific voices and their separatist forms of survival. And so the answer to those questions of why, is that instead of searching for pre-Babel moments divorced from history and instead of suggesting we can have melting pot pluralisms, Uxudo suggests communities of different orders, ones full of equal signs that scatter. . . .