Roger Gilbert-Lecomte (1907-1943) is considered one of the eminent poets of the Surrealist period. The visionary, sardonic, and often outrageous poems in this bilingual edition represent the first presentation of his work in English….
Roger Gilbert-Lecomte (1907-1943) is considered one of the eminent poets of the Surrealist period. The visionary, sardonic, and often outrageous poems in this bilingual edition represent the first presentation of his work in English. With René Daumal he was the founder of the literary movement and magazine “Le Grand Jeu,” the essence of which he defined as “the impersonal instant of eternity in emptiness.” “The glimpse of eternity in the void,” writes Rattray in the Introduction, “was to send Daumal to Hinduism, the study of Yoga philosophy, and Sanskrit. It sent Lecomte on an exploration of what he called a ‘metaphysics of absence.’ ” Rattray, a poet acclaimed for his translations of Artaud, keeps intact the power and originality of Gilbert-Lecomte’s work.
Paul Celan, arguably among the 20th century’s most important European writers, is commonly pigeonholed as a poet of the Holocaust—a term, however, he never used. Susan Gillespsie’s Corona seeks to unwind such facile assumptions about Celan, charting a more idiosyncratic and embracing path through his large oeuvre.
Translated by Susan H. Gillespie
Paul Celan, arguably among the 20th century’s most important European writers, is commonly pigeonholed as a poet of the Holocaust—a term, however, he never used. Susan Gillespsie’s Corona seeks to unwind such facile assumptions about Celan, charting a more idiosyncratic and embracing path through his large oeuvre. As Gillespie writes in her Translator’s Introduction, “The poems, taken as a whole, are invisibly interwoven in what Celan might have termed ‘constellations’ of meaning, which extend beyond individual text to create a harmonic architecture of echoes and references. We are present at the creation of a world, perhaps even a universe of meaning.” Such a totality necessarily includes not only the poet’s well-known works of memory and memorialization, as well as poems on contemporary politics, but are juxtaposed in this collection with love poems, reflections on stays in mental hospitals and the sometimes ribald comedy of life. For even as Celan’s writing is hermetic, it is also resonant with personal grief and longing, to which in varying degree Celan alludes in every poem he writes. Derived from years of study, Gillespie’s translations embody this personal dimension, facilitated by their ease of diction and attention to the “somatic” and rhetorical aspects of Celan’s verse—their sound, gait, tone, and gravity—as well as to their internal and external echoes—or what Roman Jakobson called their “poetic etymology.” Noticing this in Celan’s writing—but applicable to her translations—she writes: “Here, poetry is not what gets lost in translation, it is, itself, an act of translation—of experience and thought—into new language.”
In 2002, while temporarily living in Europe (mostly Amsterdam), the poet Omar Pérez began writing in a notebook. His journey began as a short professional visit that shifted into something less defined after he fell in love….
In 2002, while temporarily living in Europe (mostly Amsterdam), the poet Omar Pérez began writing in a notebook. His journey began as a short professional visit that shifted into something less defined after he fell in love. Eventually the notebook became Cubanology, a book of days reflecting on three years of life at a remove from the island: “A memory of a flight, a journey, jour.” Along with registering common and uncommon vicissitudes of everyday life, the result presents a fusion of languages. Simultaneously national and polycultural, Cubanology streams poetic thought and experience, excerpts from other writings in progress, and the coalescence of a new islandic consciousness – scenes reminiscent of many-minded Odysseus, if home were heart. Visual material appearing throughout Cubanology blends Pérez’s sketches with photographs from that period, as well as art he made after returning to his family home on Havana’s iconic Malécon.
“Welcoming as the guenmai soup whose making recurs throughout this journal, Cubanology carries the flavors of zen intensives, languages, and housecleaning; Greek retsina and Dutch beer; murmured conversations with books, friends, strangers, cultures, countries, and conditions. Omar Pérez is equally home-leaver and home-maker wherever he travels. Language is his pillow; zazen his backpack; music and imagination’s freedoms his left and right shoes.”
”I’m quite taken by Cubanology, a book of the quotidian that rises to the universal. In morning we have zazen, in the afternoon we have language(s) and poetry, then later there is guenmai for 70 people (recipe included: carrots, onions, turnips, celery) but usually just for three or four or one. Are we in Amsterdam, or Athens, Munich? Yes. It is Cubanology, after all, and “He proposied realviciousization,/seated at the deskritorio” is the way poems are written when you are Omar Pérez. Part Pound, part Bolaño, add a Brechtian play, mix in some Hart Crane, spiced with Marianne Moore, Larry Eigner and Paul Hoover (Paul Hoover!), this is a global 24 hours that stretches time to eternity, consolidates place, and with a polyglot sensibility that seems bent on unifying all languages. Reading Cubanology is more like meditating than reading. Which is to say the ritual of the day. Which stays with you, and is tomorrow, the eternal day.”
“Omar Pérez’s Cubanology is a Book of Days for the new century, a clear-eyed account of his travels in Europe, in the form of journal entries, essays, poems, translations, and meditations dating from 2002-2005. “To one seeking the truth,” he writes, “I offer only this: don’t waste any time.” Hence he schools his readers in the art of making and measuring time according to the precepts of his Buddhist faith, the practice of which provides the scaffolding for this fascinating journey, which suggests that even if, as he writes, “travel intoxicates,” it also reveals the heart and soul of one of the most important artists of our time.”
—Christopher Merrill, author of Self-Portrait with Dogwood
Hotel des Archives is a trilogy of books consisting of verse recastings from the French novels of Beckett, Genet and Duras. Synchronous with postmodernism’s aesthetics of appropriation, détournement, sampling and other intertextual strategies, the project operates a double shift of genre and language….
Hotel des Archives is a trilogy of books consisting of verse recastings from the French novels of Beckett, Genet and Duras. Synchronous with postmodernism’s aesthetics of appropriation, détournement, sampling and other intertextual strategies, the project operates a double shift of genre and language, since she moves from the original French and from prose to lyric. These transcreations, as Tysh has been calling them, allow her to forsake the traditional mode of self-expression in favor of one that “translates” other cultural materials, creating an artistic network beyond boundaries and temporalities.
In Molloy, the Flip Side, she uses the French language in which Samuel Beckett wrote his novel Molloy to guide her into finding a contemporary American vernacular through which the hapless narrator speaks. Her three-line stanza formation compresses Beckett’s diegetic universe, sparse as it is, and allows her to link the two texts through the projection of a new, speaking subject — a funny, witty, old and disabled bum, going slowly nowhere.
In Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic, Jean Genet’s 1943 disturbing elegy for social heterogeneity, she attempts to find a poetic equivalent with which to evoke Divine, Mignon-Dainty-Feet, and the young assassin, Our Lady, three saintly figures in a forbidden realm of the senses. The seven-line stanzas of my Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic are spacious enough to accommodate the narrative arc, while foregrounding their lyrical impact.
Her third transcreation flows from the novel The Ravishing of Lol V. Stein by Marguerite Duras, the celebrated author of the Hiroshima Mon Amour screenplay and winner of the Goncourt Prize for The Lover. In this type of relational poetics, she strives to maintain the narrative spaces and affects, while finding a new set of porous networks – lyrical trajectories that pass through various signposts of the text.
Chris Tysh reads in, around, and through Molloy in this ingenious transformation of Beckett’s French prose into compulsively vernacular English tercets. The narrative echoes in Molloy: The Flip Side make for an unsettling familiarity, spiked with the verbal equivalent of dark chocolate and homemade rum.
Like Genet, Tysh is something of a snake charmer—or the snake itself?—lyricism unfolding kaleidoscopically, extending emotions and meanings, fastening this mouse/reader to the spot.
Chris Tysh’s gorgeous transcreation of Marguerite Duras’s haunted and haunting early novel draws out the lyricism of the text’s emotional algebra almost in the way one might draw poison from a wound. In Tysh’s condensed explorations of betrayal, voyeurism, and imitative desire, one finds a further textual ravishment—a lushly articulated response to Duras’s original that captures both the calculated and explosive qualities of its cry.