Wednesday, February 22

Collected French Translations: Poetry - John Ashbery (2014)

"In a 1956 letter to Kenneth Koch, John Ashbery wrote: 'I hate all modern French poetry, except for Raymond Roussel', specifying: 'I do like my own wildly inaccurate translations of some of the 20th-century ones, but not the originals'. The editors of this book rather solemnly gloss this as Ashbery musing on 'his own hard work', and his 'difficulties in building a canon for his own new poetic journeys'. They may be right, but the comment is also funny and provocative, taking a dandy-esque line on the tired debates (tired even then and comprehensively exhausted now) about accuracy and fidelity in translation. ... Though several poets may be familiar – Reverdy, Breton, Supervielle, Eluard – others, such as Daumal, Ganzo, Lubin, Blanchard, Roche, will not. ..."
Guardian: Collected French Translations: Poetry by John Ashbery – review
BOMB: John Ashbery by Adam Fitzgerald

John Ashbery (right) and Pierre Martory stroll along the Seine in Paris, 1958