Read Fertile Destabilization – On Translating Rimbaud’s Illuminations, Ashbery’s note in the current Poetry magazine, and also The Illuminated Text, his phone-interview with Claude Peck for the on-line Rain Taxi. Check out too the video of him reading (at the New School, a few months back) one of the translations in the book, “Promontory”.
“This is the book that made poetry modern”, writes poet J.D.McClatchy, “and John Ashbery’s sizzling new translation lets Rimbaud’s eerie grandeur burst into English. Finally we have the key to open the door onto these magical Illuminations, and all their “elegance, knowledge, violence!”. This is an essential volume, a true classic.”
Allen’s Rimbaud-in-translation was, of course, the still-respected Louise Varese (1957, New Directions), tho’ he’d studied it earlier, and was also able to read it in the original French.
Tonight at the St Marks Poetry Project in New York, there’ll be a big group reading from the book featuring a host of readers (and musicians!), among them Richard Hell, David Shapiro, Sharon Mesmer, Franklin Bruno, Edwin Torres. “This is a major event”, the Poetry Project declares, with assertiveness and pride, “and we are going to celebrate it”.