Avant Desire

A Nicole Brossard Reader


The definitive survey of an essential feminist poet.

In June 2019, Nicole Brossard was awarded the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Poetry Trust. Rarely has a prize been so richly deserved. For five decades she has been writing ground-breaking poetry, fiction, and criticism in French that has always been steadfastly and unashamedly feminist and lesbian.

Avant Desire moves through Brossard’s body of work with a playful attentiveness to its ongoing lines of inquiry. Like her work, this reader moves beyond conventional textual material to include ephemera, interviews, marginalia, lectures, and more. Just as Brossard foregrounds collaboration, this book includes new translations alongside canonical ones and intertextual and responsive work from a variety of artist translators at various stages of their careers.

Through their selections, the editors trace Brossard’s fusion of lesbian feminist desire with innovation, experimentation, and activism, emphasizing the more overtly political nature of her early work and its transition into performative thinking.

Devotees of Brossard will be invigorated by the range of previously unavailable materials included here, while new readings will find a thread of inquiry that is more than a mere introduction to her complex body of work. Avant Desire situates Brossard’s thinking across her oeuvre as that of a writer whose sights are always cast toward the horizon.


Nicole Brossard

Nicole Brossard (b. Montréal, 1943) began publishing in 1965. She has published more than forty books since and twice won the Governor General’s Literary Award. A consummate advocate for literature and feminist discourse, she cofounded and co-directed the avant-garde literary magazine La Barre du jour (1965–1975), co-directed the film Some American Feminists (1976) and co-edited the acclaimed Anthologie de la poésie des femmes au Québec (1991, 2003). Her work has influenced a whole generation poets and feminists and has been translated widely into English as well as Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Slovenian, Romanian, Catalan, and Portuguese.

Sina Queyras

Sina Queyras is the author of My Ariel, MxT, Expressway, and Lemon Hound, all from Coach House Books. They were born on land belonging to the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and live and teach in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal).

Geneviève Robichaud

Geneviève Robichaud is the author of Exit Text (Anstruther Press, 2016), a nano-essay on the errant and secret life of ideas. Her research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first-century writings with an emphasis on translation as the poetry of thought still to come. She holds a PhD in English literature from the Université de Montréal.

Erin Wunker

Erin Wunker lives, works, and teaches in K’jipuktuk (Halifax, Nova Scotia). She is the author of Notes from a Feminist Killjoy: Essays on Everyday Life.
Chapter Title Contents Contributors Pages Year Price


- ; ; 19 $1.90


This first section works to pay homage to Brossard’s celebration of pleasure which, the editors believe, "hinges around the seductive force of desire in its multiple iterations." … 47 $4.70


The texts in this section demonstrate Brossard’s attentiveness to the power of the written work to make space in the structures that oppress us. Texts include: The Aerial Letter (Marlene … 31 $3.10


Texts in this section include: From Intimate Journal (Barbara Godard) – Worn Along the Fold (Fiona Strachan) – Screen Skin Utopia, from Picture Theory (Barbara Godard) – Just … 57 $5.70


Texts in this section include: Mauve (with Daphne Marlatt) – Polynésie des yeux/Polynesya of the Eyes – Polynesian Days by Charles Bernstein – If Yes Seismal/Si Sismal … 58 $5.80


Texts in this section include: The Marginal Way (Jennifer Moxley) – Field of Action for New Forms (Larry Shouldice) – The Most Precious Things in the Future Will Be Water, Silence, … 77 $7.70