Orange Export Ltd., a pocket saga

Orange Export Ltd. 1969-1986

by Emmanuel Hocquard and Raquel Lévy

Flammarion, 440 p., € 26

It was another time. An era without social networks where literary journals and their hosts had an influence beyond compare with their low relative circulation: As is, TXT, Java or Poetic action then enact, each in their own way, with their obsessions, their enthusiasms and their outbursts, what a literature should be, and its high poetic expression, at the forefront of modernity. Pages and schools that rarely mix.

It was during this period both relentless and stimulating that a couple of young artists, the poet Emmanuel Hocquard and the painter Raquel Lévy, went up from Nice to Paris to launch a project that was both crazy and spontaneous: not yet another magazine but a tiny publishing house, each book, edited and illustrated with care and in a most sober layout, would only make a few sheets, in pocket format and printed from 9 to 100 copies. Orange Export Ltd. were born.

In their workshop in Malakoff, they self-publish their own works, but also offer their press to a whole generation of poets still almost unknown and gathering over the years around a friendly nucleus composed of Claude Royet-Journoud, Jean Daive, Anne -Marie Albiach, Joseph Guglielmi and Alain Veinstein. Other names, already installed, such as Eugène Guillevic, Georges Perec, André du Bouchet or Jean Tortel, will respond to the joyous invitation with free texts. A space for experimentation often referred to by the term“White writing”, so much the economy of words seems to be one of the markers, without systematism, of this production.

The new edition of this anthology, published for the first time in 1986 and out of print for many years, fills a gap for all lovers of poetry and contemporary writing. More than a retrospective, this volume is actually a library, bringing together all the texts, without the illustrations, contained in the hundred works published during this editorial adventure. Its layout, supervised by Hocquard, who died in 2019, offers a recreation of what the book’s new preface, Stéphane Baquet, defines as a scenography of writing.

Over the pages, we can therefore create our own exhibition path, starting perhaps with the more familiar names: the last “book” published by Georges Perec, the language games of the ulipian Jacques Roubaud, the dazzling Two hands by Edmond Jabès, the words about winter by Pascal Quignard to then dive into the astonishing Theater by Roger Giroux, whose stage is a white square around which dance the words, the Painting for Raquel by Henri Deluy, painting in verse, or The Portfolios, Hocquard’s inaugural text.

At the end of the book, we will delight in an anthology of monostiches, original single-line poems commissioned at the time from more than 117 authors, like this simple and beautiful Retouching the pass by Daniel Boulanger: “The night will deliver the dawn to the day that will love it. “ Perhaps the ideal moment to discover, each morning, a small book of this pleiad of a sensitive avant-garde.


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