A Life of Sheer Will

Yasmine El Rashidi

Yasmine El Rashidi wrote an essay on Lebanese poet Etel Adnan for The New York Review.

“Adnan had internalized the experience of her parents: the defeat, the breakage, the lack of photographs, letters, thoughts. She lived her life maximally—writing, painting, speaking, drawing, whatever, it seemed, came to mind. Her paintings (small, abstract, bright) were most often completed in a single sitting (“because I’m compulsive”). Texts (I’ve heard) flowed out of her in one shot—unedited. Leporellos—notebooks folded accordion-style—became a favorite, thanks to a friend in San Francisco who gave her a mostly empty Japanese one. Reality and fiction were interchangeable, taking the form of complete stories as well as fragmentary texts, letters, prose. Poetry was a constant.”

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