Designed and composed for Wake Forest University Press
by Nathan W. Moehlmann, Goosepen Studio & Press
Softcover with flaps and flyleaves: $15.95 | 192 pages | 6" by 8.25"
Ciaran Carson is among the most restlessly groundbreaking poets now writing in English. In From Elsewhere, he adds yet another dimension to his poetry and to the act of translation by combining them in homage to the French poet Jean Follain (1903–1971). Carson not only translates the original, but also adds his own poetic rendition, crafting a mosaic of translation and free response.
The implications of Follain’s poems are often made arrestingly explicit in Carson’s versions. The silences in “Without Language” resound as the unfathomable echoes of “In Memory.” The terror of Modernism in “The Burnt Island” becomes the modern terrorism of “Timing Device.” When we arrive at “Without Courage”/“Translation” at the beginning of the third part, the poetic flight from Follain to Carson is comprehensive, though “changed in the meantime / that is elsewhere.” We understand the title intimately as a conversation between poets across time and space.
Ciaran Carson was born and raised in Belfast, where he still lives. Educated at Queen’s University Belfast, he was appointed Chair of Poetry at its Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in 2003. He is not only a poet, but also a traditional musician, scholar of the Irish oral tradition, prose-writer, and translator. Wake Forest University Press has published fifteen of his volumes, beginning with The New Estate (1976), and including the innovative Belfast Confetti (1989); First Language (1994), which won the first-ever T. S. Eliot Prize; and Breaking News (2003), which won the prestigious Forward Prize. Other WFU Press volumes include The Midnight Court (2006), his rollicking translation of Brian Merriman’s eighteenth-century Irish poem; the fugue-infused For All We Know (2008); Collected Poems (2009); the companion volumes On the Night Watch and Until Before After (2010); and, most recently, In the Light Of, his renditions of Rimbaud’s Illuminations.
Jean Follain (1903–1971) was a French author, poet, lawyer, and judge. In 1970, he was awarded the Grand Prize of Poetry from L’Académie française for his life’s work. Carson writes of him in his preface to this book: “[Follain] was aged eleven when war broke out in 1914, and says that had he been born just a year later his poetry would not have been that which it was, a memorial to a lost world. And when he came to view Saint-Lô in the aftermath of its almost complete destruction by Allied bombing in 1944, he declared that the power of things to endure had been effectively annihilated; yet they abided in the memory, and through poetry might exist in an eternal present.”