Ash-Memory, (M)other Tongues, and Spectral Poetics in Erín Moure’s The Unmemntioable


This paper presents a critical reading of Canadian poet Erín Moure’s The Unmemntiobale (House of Anansi Press, 2012). I employ a close-reading methodology to situate Moure’s text within its historical and geographical context, namely the Holocaust in western Ukraine. In The Unmemntioable, typographical markings map moments of dissonance where the book’s transhistorical and translingual ghosts interrupt and rub up against one another. This spectral poetics requires an engagement with differential reading forms, to elucidate the voices afloat in each sign. I propose the term ‘ash-memory’ to articulate Moure’s themes of language, violence, and cultural memory. Jacques Derrida’s writings on cinders and the shibboleth provide a further theoretical framework. I conclude that it is the spectral traces of the past that connect the body to place and place to language.

This article “Ash-Memory, (M)other Tongues, and Spectral Poetics in Erín Moure’s The Unmemntioable ” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 247 (2021): 84-103.

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