Valérie Rouzeau was born in 1967 in Burgundy, France and now lives in a small town near Paris, Saint-Ouen. She has published a dozen collections of poems and volumes translated from Sylvia Plath, William Carlos Williams, Ted Hughes and the photographer Duane Michals.
She is the editor of a little review of poetry for children called dans la lune and lives mainly by her pen through public readings, poetry workshops in schools, radio broadcasts and translation.
The pages look like sentences of prose but they are often unpunctuated and the grammar invents itself in surprise jolts and slangy plunges.
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 Valérie Rouzeau
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