Friday Staff Pick: Pierre Reverdy

Pierre Reverdy
Edited by Mary Ann Caws

This is a well organized book of translations of French cubist poet, Pierre Reverdy. Just out from the NYRB Poets series, this collection has some of the usual suspects of Reverdy translation such as Kenneth Rexroth (now back in print here mind you) and Ron Padgett, but also some exciting translations by John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara, which is worth the price alone. Reverdy’s poems are stripped down, with lines often simply containing objects of a still-life with touches of far-reaching magical energy. ––Recommended by Jackson

The great Pierre Reverdy, comrade to Picasso and Braque, peer and contemporary of Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams, is among the most mysteriously satisfying of twentieth-century poets, his poems an uncanny mixture of the simple and the sublime. Reverdy’s poetry has exerted a special attraction on American poets, from Kenneth Rexroth to John Ashbery, and this new selection, featuring the work of fourteen distinguished translators, most of it appearing here for the first time, documents that ongoing relationship while offering readers the essential work of an extraordinary writer.Translated from the French by:John Ashbery, Dan Bellm, Mary Ann Caws, Lydia Davis, Marilyn Hacker, Richard Howard, Geoffrey O’Brien, Frank O’Hara, Ron Padgett, Mark Polizzotti, Kenneth Rexroth, Richard Sieburth, Patricia Terry, Rosanna Warren

Quotes

A poem by Reverdy is a spiritual fact: everything that makes up the human being—sensations, feelings, other men and women—has been passed through the filter of poetry.
—Octavio Paz

My heart is in my/pocket. It is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.
—Frank O’Hara

The poet seems to evaporate, to vanish into the haunted country he has created, as if Reverdy had emptied the space of the poem in order to let the reader inhabit it.
—Paul Auster

Reverdy, with Paul Eluard … is the purest of the writers of his time.
—Philippe Soupault

 

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