Francis Ponge

Unfinished Ode to Mud

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Santrauka: A bilingual French/English edition of new translations of prose poems by a writer praised by Italo Calvino as ‘a peerless master . . . I believe that he may be the Lucretius of our time, reconstructing the physical nature of the world by means of the impalpable, powderfine dust of words’ (Six Memos for the Next Millennium). Still radical, the poems of Francis Ponge seek to give the things of the world their due. Impatient with the usual baggage of literary description, Ponge attends to a pebble, a washpot, an eiderdown, a platter of fish, with lyrical precision; playing with sounds, rhythms and associations of words, he creates wholly new objects – ‘but which may be more touching, if possible, than natural objects, because human’ (‘My Creative Method’). ‘Ponge’s vision is painstakingly matter-of-fact, and herein lies his strength as a poet: in this commonplace vision, coupled with a refusal to be poetic and a scientific-like examination of language, lurks a breathtaking sense of wonder . . . Beverley Bie Brahic’s translation is wholly in keeping with Ponge’s own premiss that he should “never sacrifice the object of [his] study to enhance some verbal turn discovered on the subject”. These new translations never interfere with Ponge’s vision, and things do not lose their thingness. We can be grateful to both the translator and CB editions for bringing back the unique work of Francis Ponge to the attention of English-speakers.’ – Lee Rourke, Times Literary Supplement ‘He’s a writer who makes you feel like writing – and that’s really about as noble an end to writing as there can be . . . Unfinished Ode to Mud is the first parallel text version of Ponge's work I have come across. The numerous American editions I've enjoyed and consulted in the past have presented the translations only. This is an act of generosity as well as bravery . . . The directness and simplicity of Brahic’s translation are refreshing, and to finally see such previously untranslated works as the titular ode is a great thing indeed.’ – Luke Kennard, Poetry London

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