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////// 74 pages

Size: 14.5 x 21 CM

ISBN: 978-1-915341-08-2


tentatives starts in playful slip-sliding between French and English, abseiling in the fissures that open between their imperfectly aligned layers. In the presence of the work of Fernand Deligny, this territory becomes treacherous, cratered with questions about what it means to be oneself, to be a self, and just to be, within and without language.

These poems are tentatives, attempts to grasp something that remains always just beyond reach. They are a map of a series of walks, driven by this wondering, in the hills and woods that became an entire world during the most closed-down months of lockdown. They both are, and are a record of, an attempt to bridge or find a way around an abyss in language.


'In tentatives, Ellen Dillon cradles back and forth between English and French, where they skip rocks on the surface tension of the familiar, splitting languages through constantly reworking and re-introducing textures back into themselves. We read “ Finding/ ways to pick through the pebbles/ and make way to the water/ without giving way” as the current carries us deeper into language. In tentatives, Dillon builds new coastlines to beach their language on, as we float midway between all we do and do not know on the surface her words.'


Khashayar -Kess- Mohammadi


'Thinking around and through Fernand Deligny’s work, Ellen Dillon turns mutique into musique and provisional into attempt, efforting close and tactile presences between language and language, between tree, moss, air, animal, and human. In doing so, she shows points of contact, from which lines of errancy freely take flight, creating bridges of sound. In tentatives, existing takes place between languages, someoning the subject. Here “language” is not just what can be said in English or French, even as French and English look into each other as though in a mirror and reflect, but also the language of sound, of water, of light, of woods, of gestures. With brilliant and sensitive turnings, Dillon shows a selfhood not restricted to word-making but world-making through proximity a universe that is sensorially rich, buzzing, glistening, splashing, fragrant, alive.'


Oana Avasilichioaei




Ellen Dillon is a poet and teacher from Limerick, Ireland. Her latest book, Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel, is forthcoming from HVTN Press. Previous books look at Irish history from the perspective of butter (Butter Intervention, Veer 2, 2022), the teaching life of Stéphane Mallarmé (Morsel May Sleep, Sublunary Editions, 2021), and Stephen Malkmus’s guitar (Sonnets to Malkmus, Sad Press, 2019). Her chapbooks include Heave (Smithereens Press, 2018), Achatina, achatina! (SoundEye Press, 2019) and Excavate (Poems after Pasolini) (2020, Oystercatcher Press). She teaches French and English at a rural secondary school.

Ellen Dillon I tentatives

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