The great Pierre Reverdy, comrade to Picasso and Braque, peer and contemporary of Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams, is among the most mysteriously satisfying of twentieth-century poets, his poems an uncanny mixture of the simple and the sublime. Reverdy’s poetry has exerted a special attraction on American poets, from Kenneth Rexroth to John Ashbery, and this new selection, featuring the work of fourteen distinguished translators, most of it appearing here for the first time, documents that ongoing relationship while offering readers the essential work of an extraordinary writer.
Translated from the French by:
John Ashbery, Dan Bellm, Mary Ann Caws, Lydia Davis, Marilyn Hacker, Richard Howard, Geoffrey O’Brien, Frank O’Hara, Ron Padgett, Mark Polizzotti, Kenneth Rexroth, Richard Sieburth, Patricia Terry, Rosanna Warren
The great Pierre Reverdy, comrade to Picasso and Braque, peer and contemporary of Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams, is among the most mysteriously satisfying of twentieth-century poets, his poems an uncanny mixture of the simple and the sublime.
—The Poetry Foundation
Pierre Reverdy is among the greatest of modern French poets, and certainly among the most elusive. His work is at once impersonal and intimate, crystalline and opaque, simple to the point of austerity. The landscape of his poetry is both instantly recognizable and, devoid of local specificity, imbued with an otherworldly strangeness. He is ‘a secret poet for secret readers,’ as Octavio Paz once described him, insisting on the necessity of parsing the silence, the empty spaces between what seems visible in the lines of his poems. Each feels like a fragment of a universe, and yet whole.
—Mary Ann Caws on Pierre Reverdy for Poetry Society of America
A poem by Reverdy is a spiritual fact: everything that makes up the human being—sensations, feelings, other men and women—has been passed through the filter of poetry.—Octavio Paz
My heart is in my/pocket. It is Poems by Pierre Reverdy.—Frank O’Hara
The poet seems to evaporate, to vanish into the haunted country he has created, as if Reverdy had emptied the space of the poem in order to let the reader inhabit it.—Paul Auster
Reverdy, with Paul Eluard … is the purest of the writers of his time.