“It’s hard for me to talk about Corina Copp’s writing without suffering.” —Josef Kaplan
In Jules Verne’s 1882 novel Le Rayon Vert, good niece Helena Campbell searches the Scotland Hebrides hoping to see a rare optical phenomenon—a green flash that, when seen as the last ray of color sinks below the horizon line as the sun sets over the sea, affords its viewer a heightened perception, or a deepening of the ability to read “true feeling.” This quest to see, or feel, or love, has generated several avant-gardist green flashes: Raymond Roussel’s “skin of the parting beneath the point of the green pencil” (“le crayon vert”); The Green Box, Marcel Duchamp’s preliminary notes for The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (also known as The Large Glass); a 1965 short story by Alain Robbe-Grillet called “The Shore” (later to become his novel Le Voyeur); and, finally, the wandering, idle Delphine in Eric Rohmer’s 1986 film The Green Ray.
Delphine—a less resolute version of Helena—is played delicately by Marie Rivière, who also contributed to the film’s script, which relied heavily on improvisation and chance (“I cry so much in the film! But you know, each time is very different.”). Delphine refuses to do anything that other people do—she’s essentially “no fun.” “Boats make me sick too, Sweetie.” And she’s also very lonely. But green, her astrologically inclined friend tells her before sucking on a plum, is the color of hope.
Poet, writer, theater artist, and performer Corina Copp’s first book, The Green Ray (to be published in March by Ugly Duckling Presse), uses Rohmer’s insistence on intuition and green’s symbolic resonance as a guiding principle. After the author’s repeated failures to write the title poem or to see her own green ray, she instead discovered something resembling artist Tacita Dean’s remark in her 2001 take on The Green Ray: “So looking for the green ray became about the act of looking itself, about faith and belief in what you see.”
Copp will introduce Rohmer’s The Green Ray and read from her own new book of poems. Books will be available for purchase following the screening.
Copp is the author of the pamphlet ALL STOCK MUST GO and several poetry chapbooks including Pro Magenta/Be Met (UDP 2011). Recent work can be found in Cabinet, Prelude, and BOMB. She’s currently working on a three-part play inspired by the book, script, and film work of Marguerite Duras, entitled The Whole Tragedy of the Inability to Love.
The Green Ray / Le rayon vert
Eric Rohmer, France, 1986, 35mm, 98m
French with English subtitles
“Ah, for the days / That set our hearts ablaze.” Rohmer’s mid-career triumph follows a depressed, newly single Parisian secretary as she spends her summer vacation looking for happiness and true love. Starring Rohmer axiom Marie Rivière as the directionless Delphine, the film’s a masterpiece about unspoken feelings of melancholy and uncertainty, fashioned from the simplest of elements: a change in plans when a holiday falls through. It’s a rare chronicle of in-between moments and moods that’s proven hugely influential, with a glorious, unforgettable guest appearance by a sunset… Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.