On Thursday, May 21st, John Ashbery will join unequivocal radio host Michael Silverblatt to talk about French poetry and translation on the air. Ashbery, a key player in the New York School of Poetry of the '60s, has always been as much a connoisseur as an artist. For his recent project, The Landscapist, he translated work by French poet Pierre Martory, a long-time friend and inspiration. Hearing Ashbery talk about Martory will undoubtedly be a treat. Thursday's conversation can be heard online at Bookworm's home page (or on KCRW, for those of us in the LA area).
Here is Ashbery on The Landscapist:
"After I began translating Pierre Martory, that is, after I began to realize that his marvelous poetry would likely remain unknown unless I translated it and brought it to the attention of American readers, I have begun to find echoes of his work in mine. His dreams, his pessimistic résumés of childhood that are suddenly lanced by a joke, his surreal loves, his strangely lit landscapes with their inquisitive birds and disquieting flora, have been fertile influences for me, though I hope I haven’t stolen anything—well, better to steal than borrow, as Eliot more or less said. All of which may be a way of saying that there is no very easy way to describe Martory’s poetry. It is sui generis and it deserves to be read. And reread."