02 July 2007

books in Paris

Here's a little more about books in Paris. This was first posted on the Buffalo Poetics List and is here a little bit corrected & expanded.

I was very impressed by the general quality of literary books in Paris. Paperback books are generally sewn, printed on high quality paper, and expertly printed (registration, consistency, etc.) with good design and a graceful sense of page layout. A good example is POÉSIES: Oeuvres Complètes de Mohammed Dib, introduced & edited by Habib Tengour (himself a terrific poet), which is massive at almost 600 pages, and is an important book by a poet I hope becomes available in such an edition in English (this one is in French), and not a "fine art" book at all, but still a lovely graceful book that is a pleasure to handle even at its size. It's my project to translate, just for myself, with an eye to improving my French (which needs a great deal of improvement) along the way. So far I've finished all of two poems, or really finished one in notes in the book and one in my head.

In terms of smaller presses, I picked up a visually delightful book with text by Nicole Malinconi and images by Jean-Gilles Badaire titled La Porte de Cézanne, published by &esperluète editions, which is not in France but in Belgium. I came home with a beautiful small chapbook (in size, not so small for a chapbook in terms of number of pages) by Sarah Riggs, translated into French and published by Éditions de l'Attente, titled 28 télégrammes. And I saw a couple of books from Minute Editions which looked really good. I looked in a bookstore for the one by Frederic Forte (whose presence at our translation seminar was a definite plus) but could not find it. I also like the books coming out from La Presse, which is bringing out French poets in English. One particularly great one from that press is Wolftrot, by Marie Borel.I saw many more books in bookstores but didn't note all the press names and titles. A return trip will definitely be required.And I might have said that Rod Mengham's Equipage books are published by him in Cambridge, England.

Speaking of England, arranging a dinner with David Miller in London was one of the great things that happened on our trip away. If you share the concerns of this blog & Chax Press about poetry, you will definitely want David's book In The Shop of Nothing from Harbor Mountain Press in Vermont. I'll be writing more about that elsewhere, but it's one of the very best books of poetry I have read in the last several years. It's just out and may not even quite be at bookstores or SPD yet. But look for it; you will be glad you did.

David has also sent me a book he co-edited for the Tate museums (Tate Publishing) titled Music while drowning: German Expressionist Poems. Works by Kandinsky, Schwitters, Ball, Heym, Trakl, Stramm, Lasker-Schüler, and several more, specifically including the visual artist/poetry connections in that Expressionist group of writers and artists. My favorite poem of the moment has to be "The Sun," by Hugo Ball. Stunning! Now I'm looking for the German text, although Christoper Middleton's translation here is superb.