The Presence of Absence: Meditations on the Unsayable in Writing

The Presence of Absence is about writers navigating the unspeakable through image, sound, and structure. Each chapter focuses on a specific text, exploring the ways that four writers look to visual and auditory materials and metaphors as passageways to understanding and expressing ineffable qualities of relationships, identity, and grief. The book explores absence and excess, fragmentation and translation, and—above all—the push and pull between presence and absence, with absence carrying as much significance as presence (and sometimes more).

The book crosses languages and disciplines, working in French and English across poetry, photography, history, and literary theory. Through analysis of Nox by Anne Carson; Quelque chose noir by Jacques Roubaud; Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman, and Le livre des questions by Edmond Jabès, the book explores truths—about loss but also about knowledge, beauty, even higher education—that are difficult to articulate and yet deeply resonant with human experience.