Which Came First: The Poem or the Word?


Two poems from the new book, The form of a city changes faster, alas, than the human heart, by Jacques Roubaud, translated by Keith and Rosemarie Waldrop, selection by moi. The book is an “homage and response to many of France’s best-known poets …” Enjoy, si vous plait~

Sonnet IX
Rue Rossini

Rossini’s street elbows and it’s a green
Saucer holds the torn check for my café
Au lait. Reflections, sodden, daub a June
cloudscape upon somebody’s open window

The floor above the antique store. Air mild,
The morning quiet, certainly I could
Read, think, or dream–ah, but my cheek ears
Prefer to eavesdrop on the neighborhood.

Lifting her nude arms, tanned, the brunette beauty
Says (and her armpits, by the way, show promise):
“But I’m a human being, not a dog!”

Her interlocutor seems quite perplexed
(Such conversations have text and subtext):
“You should say ‘bitch.’” To which comes no reply.


A Good Day

Today was a good day
Three times I was asked directions
1. A Japanese couple was looking for the Opera
On avenue de l’Opera
2. A man from the provinces was looking for the church Notre-
Dame-des Victoires on
Place Notre-Dame-des-Victoires
3. A young woman was looking for the Rue du Général Delestraint
Right at the exit of Métro Porte-de-Saint-Cloud
Really, it was a good day

Jacques Roubaud

One Response to “Which Came First: The Poem or the Word?”

  1. Amy King’s Blog » Blog Archive » Want To Read “Women’s Poetry”? Start Asking For “Men’s Poetry”… Says:
    August 29th, 2006 at 9:45 pm e[…] Want To Read “Women’s Poetry”? Start Asking For “Men’s Poetry”… Rosmarie Waldrop, Poet and Translator It occurred to me the other day when I was thinking of great women poets to solicit for MiPOesias that Rosmarie Waldrop would be a wonderful writer to hunt down. I spent many grad school days in Buffalo sitting in the backyard of Cybele’s (does that cafe still exist?) reading A Form/ Of Taking/ It All, The Reproduction of Profiles, and A Key Into the Language of America, among others. These still sit on my shelves. I also ate up her Jabès’ translations. And regular readers will recal I recently made mention of her work on Jacques Roubaud’s book. […]


AMY KING View All →

Amy King is the recipient of the 2015 Winner of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) Award. Her latest collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. She co-edited with Heidi Lynn Staples the anthology Big Energy Poets of the Anthropocene: When Ecopoets Think Climate Change. She also co-edits the anthology series, Bettering American Poetry, and is a professor of creative writing at SUNY Nassau Community College.

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