Six Contemporary French Women Poets: Theory, Practice, and Pleasures

Six Contemporary French Women Poets: Theory, Practice, and Pleasures

Six Contemporary French Women Poets: Theory, Practice, and Pleasures

Six Contemporary French Women Poets: Theory, Practice, and Pleasures

Synopsis

Although many practice the art, contemporary French women poets generally have been vastly underrepresented in periodicals and anthologies. In the only anthology to feature avant-garde French women poets exclusively, Gavronsky shows how Kaplan, Grangaud, Portugal, Lapeyrère, Giraudon, and Risset differ from their American counterparts. Before presenting his translations of the poems, Gavronsky gives each poet the opportunity to define herself in terms of major influences on her poetry, distinctive traits in her writing, major themes in her work, and the influence of gender on her art. The poets also speculate about the relative underrepresentation of women poets in French periodicals and anthologies as well as about the form poetry might take in the twenty-first century. The poems in this volume are simultaneously delightful, informative, and combative. They typify, according to Gavronsky, some of the main currents of a poetics in the making, a poetics little known in the United States. In reaffirming women's involvement with poetry, Gavronsky believes that he has "reconnected today's work with an immemorial tradition that, in France, clearly goes back to [the] Middle Ages."

Excerpt

Let me begin with what I believe is perfectly apparent to any reader interested in contemporary French poetry: women have never been as well represented in this literary genre as they have been in the world of fiction. In fact, to say they have been upstaged by male poets is an understatement. As of Plato and then throughout our Western tradition, men have always held a privileged position between the gods and humanity. They are the intercessors, the ones who are "inspired" from above. This quasisacred relation and ensuing responsibility--see Homer's first line in Robert Fitzgerald's translation of the Odyssey, "Sing in me, o Muse and through me tell the story"--has sidelined women poets.

And yet, from the Middle Ages to the present, women in France have never stopped writing poetry, though in our own century, to keep as close to the present as possible--women have still to occupy their rightful place in histories of French literature or, even more telling, in anthologies of poetry. It is precisely in such a gathering of poets that anthologists identify those who exist and those who do not. As far as the general public is concerned, and thereafter in selected translations of these same anthologies, the fact that so few women poets figure in these works may appear subjectively troubling, but the seal of authority of an anthology assures that such questions are usually ignored. Let me illustrate with two recent publications. The first is Robert Sabatier's massive three-volume Histoire de la Poésie Française, where if ever a poet could be inscribed in this century, he or she would have won a place, and yet, the index reveals a remarkable paucity . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.