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Selected Poems charts Mark Ford's growing complexity as a writer and his mastery and use of form. John Ashbery calls Ford's work "refreshing" and it's that exuberance and goodwill that animates the poems, giving them their spontaneity and leavening the grim with comic élan and joy. Myth, history, and the everyday are all at play in this wonderfully diverse collection.Invisible Assets:After he threw he through aplate glass window, nature seemed that much closer.Even the dastardly division in societymight be healed by a first-rate glazier.Of course, on Sundays families still picnickedboldly on the village green, and afterwardsmarveled at the blacksmith's glowing forge--how strong they all were in those days!And yet how small! Even a man only six foot tallwas then esteemed a veritable giant.Surely the current furor over architecturewould have evoked from them only pitying smiles.Meanwhile the market for landscapes has neverbeen firmer. This view, for instance, includesseven counties, and a bull charging around in its paddock.Mark Ford was born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1962. He has published three collections of poetry and a biography of the French writer Raymond Roussel and is the editor of Frank O'Hara's Selected Poems. He has also translated Roussel's New Impressions of Africa and is the editor of London: A History in Verse. He lives in London, England.
Poet, novelist, playwright, and chess enthusiast, Raymond Roussel (1877-1933) was one of the French belle époque's most compelling literary figures. During his lifetime, Roussel's work was vociferously championed by the surrealists, but never achieved the widespread acclaim for which he yearned. New Impressions of Africa is undoubtedly Roussel's most extraordinary work. Since its publication in 1932, this weird and wonderful poem has slowly gained cult status, and its admirers have included Salvador Dalì--who dubbed it the most "ungraspably poetic" work of the era--André Breton, Jean Cocteau, Marcel Duchamp, Michel Foucault, Kenneth Koch, and John Ashbery. Roussel began writing New Impressions of Africa in 1915 while serving in the French Army during the First World War and it took him seventeen years to complete. "It is hard to believe the immense amount of time composition of this kind of verse requires," he later commented. Mysterious, unnerving, hilarious, haunting, both rigorously logical and dizzyingly sublime, it is truly one of the hidden masterpieces of twentieth-century modernism. This bilingual edition of New Impressions of Africa presents the original French text and the English poet Mark Ford's lucid, idiomatic translation on facing pages. It also includes an introduction outlining the poem's peculiar structure and evolution, notes explaining its literary and historical references, and the fifty-nine illustrations anonymously commissioned by Roussel, via a detective agency, from Henri-A. Zo.
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