Susan Wicks, poet and novelist, was born in Kent, England, in 1947. She read French at the universities of Hull and Sussex, and wrote a D. Phil. Thesis on André Gide. She has lived and worked in France, Ireland and America and taught at the University of Dijon, University College Dublin and the University of Kent.
Her most recent book of poems, De-iced, was published in 2007 and a book of short stories, Roll Up for the Arabian Derby, was published in 2008.
The translation by Susan Wicks is alert, inventive and gives a real sense of the level of linguistic risk and emotional force in Rouzeau’s original.
Cold Spring In Winter is a sequence of poems occasioned by the death of the author’s father. Valérie Rouzeau takes as her subject grief and the daily management of grief with its flowers, its armchairs, its special black clothes, its stupid idioms of consolation, its bundles of old Scrap Merchant magazines tied up with string (her father was a scrap metal dealer). The pages look like sentences of prose but they are often unpunctuated and the grammar invents itself in surprise jolts and slangy plunges. She makes the surface of the language dissolve and reform constantly as if it were aghast at itself. She pushes holes in the syntax and dives in and out of them, pulling the meaning after her. The tone seems controlled but it is the control of a shocked child. Overall a strange domestic dislocated voice and a crackling decisiveness of method. Grief is a very old room but here we walk into new air. The translation by Susan Wicks is alert, inventive and gives a real sense of the level of linguistic risk and emotional force in Rouzeau’s original.
by Susan Wicks
Old old papers that Cesar too had crushed, directories and corrugated cardboard, books and newsprint all together …
Or printers’ blocks of crushed paper, ordinary bags (prices vary)?
Nickel from Severonickel, free-fall stainless steel in April.
Forget-me-not fittings from the ugines Isbergues plant blue flower absolutely note: an avalanche of stainless leaf-thin sheets, that’s all.
Complicated as a meeting of the ‘grinders” group of the national iron-workers’ union.
A boat out of recycled drink-cans to cross the Pacific in.
Household ashes, broken glass.
More aluminium (pure, from saucepans), goose-feathers, white, half-white, lead whole empty batteries.
Red brass, bronze (from grapeshot, turning) other worn-out metals.
Pages from The Scrap Merchant that my father would read with care and tie in bundles as they dated.
Copyright © Translation Susan Wicks 2009
Old old papers
the French written by Valérie Rouzeau