Suzanne Doppelt Lazy Suzie
Translated from French to American English by Cole Swensen
Litmus Press (Brooklyn, NY)
2014 ISBN: 978-1-933959-25-2
Traduit de l’américain par Maïtreyi & Nicolas Pesquès
Editions Corti, 2013
ISBN : 978-2-7143-1105-4
Cole Swensen (1955, Kentfield, CA, USA) is the author of eleven previous books of poetry. She is also a translator and has won the PEN USA Award in Literary Translation. Her poetry has won the Iowa Poetry Prize and the San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Award.Swensen was awarded a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship. She taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa until 2012 when she joined the faculty of Brown University’s Literary Arts Program.
About her work, poet Michael Palmer writes, “Cole Swensen attends fixedly to those minute nuances and wanderings of language whereby the poem builds its particular perceptual logic. The result might well be called a ‘new math,’ or perhaps a calculus of light, shedding new light on things immediately before the eye.”
Third book of poetry translated into French to be published by Corti, Ours ends what could be named her French trilogy, after So Rich Hour, exploring French 15th century through the the lens of the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry iconography, and after The Glass Age, 2010, in which she looks at the history of glass and windows through the work of Bonnard and a few others.
Ours is about gardens, particularly the seventeenth-century French baroque gardens designed by the father of the form, André Le Nôtre. While the poems focus on such examples as Versailles, which Le Nôtre created for Louis XIV, they also explore the garden as metaphore. Using the imagery of the garden, Cole Swensen considers everything from human society to the formal structure of poetry. She looks in particular at the concept of public versus private property, asking who actually owns a garden? A gentle irony accompanies the question because in French, the phrase “le nôtre” means “ours.” Whereas all of Le Nôtre’s gardens were designed and built for the aristocracy, today most are public parks. Swensen probes the two senses of “le nôtre” to discover where they intersect, overlap, or blur.
If a Garden of Numbers
Cole Swensen, “In a Garden of Numbers”
Ours, University of California Press, 2008