Dominique Hecq grew up in the French-speaking part of Belgium. She read Germanic Philology at the University of Liège and then flew over to Australia where she completed a PhD on exile in Australian Literature. She also holds an MA in Literary Translation. Dominique is the author of a novel, three collections of short fiction, five books of poetry, two plays and a range of scholarly publications. Over the years, she has taught literature, French literary theory and creative writing in a number of universities and her work has been awarded a variety of prizes, including The Melbourne Fringe Festival Award for Outstanding Writing and Spoken Word Performance (1998), The New England Review Prize for Poetry (2005), The Martha Richardson Medal for Poetry (2006), an Australian Learning and Teaching Citation for Enhancing Post-graduate Experience & Learning (2010) and the inaugural AALITRA Prize for Literary Translation in poetry from Spanish into English (2014). Hush: A Fugue (2017) is her latest book of poetry. 

Fugal alternatives

For over twenty years, conflicting claims in the construction of identity have been central to the problems of re-defining autobiography. Elizabeth Bruss (1976) referred to autobiography as a literary practice that is in continuous flux. Georges Gusdorf (1980) problematised the relationship between subjective and objective memory in autobiography. Paul Eakin (1992) drew attention to the shifting boundaries between fact and fiction in self-representation. Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson (2001) argued that autobiographical writing assigns both singular and multiple subject positions to the representation of identity. Contemporary experimental poetry inflected by the autobiographical drive actively engages these conflicting issues within the context of autofiction. In this paper, I touch upon the relationships between autobiography and fiction and poetry to explore how different modes of representation raise questions regarding the construction of identity. I will focus on my own work, specifically on the composition of Hush: A Fugue (Hecq 2017), first written as a novel, then as a memoir and, finally as cross-generic text. Because the paper revisits the composition of a work which took over two decades to write, it is written in inductive mode, only arguing its point by allusion and accretion in order to highlight the speculative departures at work in the process. These speculative departures, or fugal alternatives, concern the discrepancy between the reading ‘I’ and the writing ‘I’ on the one hand, and the theorist and ‘the breathing author’ on the other. These alternatives are shown to underscore the active character of identity formation in the writing process and the retrospective nature of (embodied) knowledge.