27 February 08 | Chad W. Post

Following on yesterday’s fiction installment, listed below are five forthcoming or recently released poetry collections in translation. All of our 2008 translation overviews can be found by clicking here. I still have 10 works of fiction in translation from February to cover, so expect another update later this week.

  • Ideals Clearance, Henry Parland, translated from the Swedish by Johannes Goransson (Ugly Duckling Presse, $14.00, 9781933254227)

Eliot Weinberger’s quote says it all: “Just when you thought there were no more discoveries to be made in modernist poetry, along comes a Finno-Swedish Russian German Lithuanian teen prodigy from the 1920’s, Henry Parland, in Johannes Göransson’s zippy translation. Did anyone ever pack so much delightful weirdness into so few lines?” The poetry (seven poems are available here) is really interesting, augmented by Parland’s strange biography. Although he lived in Russia, Finland, and Lithuania, his first language was German and he wrote this book in Swedish. All before dying at the age of 22. Yeah, I know. Ron Silliman wrote a great overview of this truly cosmopolitan poet.

  • Essential Poems and Writings, Robert Desnos, translated from the French by Mary Ann Caws and many others (Black Widow Press, $24.00, 9780976844990)

From Swedish-Dada to the more traditional French vein. . . . Desnos already has a reputation among fans of Surrealism (although Desnos and Breton had a falling out), but at 430 pages, this must be one of (if not the) most complete volumes of his poetry published to date. The list of translators involved with this project is really impressive: Mary Ann Caws, Terry Hale, Bill Zavatsky, Martin Sorrell, Jonathan Eburne, Katherine Connelly, Patricia Terry, and Paul Auster. To be honest, I wasn’t aware of Black Sparrow Press until someone referenced this collection in the comments section of one of the early 2008 translation posts, which is my own ignorant fault—their list includes a great mix of established and up-and-coming poets. Discoveries like this are one of the benefits to putting together this list of translations . . .

  • You Are the Business, Caroline Dubois, translated from the French by Cole Swensen (Burning Deck Press, $14.00, 9781886224865)

This doesn’t appear to be on the Burning Deck website yet, but it is available through Small Press Distribution (linked to above). This is part of Burning Deck’s Serie d’Ecriture, an annual publication of new French poetry. All the projects Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop (publishers of Burning Deck) are involved in are worth checking out (as are all of Cole Swensen’s translations), and this line is pretty intriguing: “Dubois’ poems playfully refer to themselves and to one another as would a map or a puzzle.” And that’s a great cover/title combo.

  • State of Exile, Cristina Peri Rossi, translated from the Spanish by Marilyn Buck (City Lights, $14.95, 9780872864634)

Cristina Peri Rossi is mostly known in English for her fiction—Ship of Fools, Solitaire of Love, The Museum of Useless Efforts—and for being part of the “Latin American Boom.” She was born in Uruguay and was sent into exile in 1972 at the age of 31. She moved to Spain (where she still resides) and wrote this collection of poems about her experience. The inclusion of two essays on exile—one by Peri Rossi, the other by “translator Marilyn Buck, an American political prisoner, exiled in her own country”—is a nice addition.

  • Reason Enough, Ida Vitale, translated from the Spanish by Sarah Pollack (Host Publications, $12.00, 9780924947428)

And from one Uruguayan writer to another . . . This is a post of nice segueways. Anyway, this is the first book of Vitale’s to be translated into English. In parallel to Peri Rossi, she was born in Montevideo and at the age of 50 was forced into exile. She moved to Mexico City before relocating to Austin, TX, home of Host Publications. Not much available online, although there is this YouTube video of her reading.


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