cover image Lunar Solo: Selected Poems

Lunar Solo: Selected Poems

Jules Laforgue, trans. from the French by Mark Ford. The Song Cave, $18.95 trade paper (172p) ISBN 979-8-9878288-2-3

Widely unknown in the English-speaking world, Laforgue (1860–1887) is exuberantly translated and contextualized by poet and academic Ford, who explains that the French poet is generally credited as having been the first to use free verse. Ford notes his overriding concern as translator was to create versions that register as effective poems (readers can compare the original French with the translation across each page). Laforgue’s work is suffused with drama and romance, but also quirky, tongue-in-cheek melodrama. In “Pierrots” (subtitled “a short but typical scene”), the heartsick speaker laments: “If only you’d seen me after our tiff! I wandered/ Around, distracted, in pain, moaning/ To the walls.” There are breathless poems about Sundays and the bleak, hopeless month of November: “Cloaked/ And scarfed is the lousy sun that lies across the hill’s/ Flank, in the gorse, this evening.” In a later entry, the poet describes a sun as white as a “gobbet of spit on the floor,” and a sky “where the wind drives/ Scattered squadrons of clouds towards their trans-/ Atlantic sheepfolds.” Laforgue’s vivid imagery and wild energy should not be missed. (Dec.)