NYRB Poets: Claire Malroux presents "Daybreak," with Marilyn Hacker & Susan Barba

December 1, 2020, 5:30 PM

Claire Malroux joins us live from Paris to present her poetry collection Daybreak, in conversation with translator Marilyn Hacker and Susan Barba. This program is part of an ongoing series with NYRB Poets, and will take place on Zoom. Register here: 

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For more than four decades Claire Malroux has forged a unique path in contemporary French poetry, informed by the French tradition, by poets such as Yves Bonnefoy and Mallarmé, and, more unusually, by the Anglophone tradition, especially Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, and Derek Walcott. A preeminent translator of English poetry into French, Malroux claims as a signal event in her literary life her discovery in 1983 of Dickinson’s poetry, which she describes as “an encounter with the uncanny” and the awakening of a “personal affinity.” Malroux is one of those rare poets whose work is informed by a day-to-day intimacy with a second language in its greatest variations and subtleties. Her poems move between an intense but philosophical and abstract interiority and an acute engagement with the material world. In almost every poem there is a characteristic and unsettling amalgam of past and present that collapses distance and incarnates through metaphor.

This bilingual selection by the award-winning poet and translator Marilyn Hacker presents Malroux’s oeuvre, from her early lyric poems to an excerpt from A Long-Gone Sun—a poem-memoir of life in southern France before and during World War II—to new and uncollected poems from two sequences of elegies written after the death of her life partner, the writer Pierre Sylvain.

"Here’s one of the finest poets now writing in France in the magnificent new translation of Marilyn Hacker. Claire Malroux is a name every devoted reader of poetry will want to know. She reminds us that lyric poetry can speak of our lives in the way that nothing else can."
—Charles Simic

"The personal and universal cataclysms in Claire Malroux’s poetry—a maelstrom of love, torment and sweetness—are viewed as though through the calm lens of a dream. All is surging, hushed, violently human. Marilyn Hacker’s gifted translation captures the tone flawlessly."
—John Ashbery

Claire Malroux is the author of a dozen collections of poems, including EdgeA Long-Gone Sun, and Birds and Bison, all of which are available in English translations by Marilyn Hacker. She is also a translator of Anglophone poets, notably Henri Cole, Derek Walcott, Wallace Stevens, and, in particular, Emily Dickinson. She lives in Paris.

Marilyn Hacker is the author of fourteen books of poems, including BlazonsA Stranger's Mirror, and Names, and an essay collection, Unauthorized Voices. Her seventeen translations of other French and Francophone poets include Vénus Khoury-Ghata's A Handful of Blue Earth and Rachida Madani's Tales of a Severed Head. She lives in Paris.

Susan Barba is the author of Fair Sun (2017) and geode (2020). Her first book was awarded the Anahid Literary Prize and the Minas & Kohar Tölölyan Prize. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and her poems have been translated into Armenian, German, and Romanian. She works as a senior editor for New York Review Books.

Photo credits:
Malroux: Colette Deblé
Hacker: Alison Harris