Translating Contemporary French Poetry

Emma Wagstaff, Nina Parish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines a bilingual anthology edited by the authors and published in 2016. It argues that the process of editing an anthology of contemporary poetry with multiple translators is a form of re-writing that not only introduces new writers into the target-language poetic system, but also recasts their positions in the poetic system of the source culture by giving them new readers who have no or few preconceptions about the writers’ place in that system. Anthologizing operates in tandem with translating in this instance, and we additionally use the notions of inference and cognitive stylistics to discuss the particular habitus of academic translators who are not poets, and the opportunities those approaches offer to produce a creative translation. Style is an appropriate lens through which to consider poems included in this anthology because it is a contested question in contemporary French poetic practice. The article therefore treats the question of présence that this special issue addresses in three ways. It discusses, on the most literal level, the new or more visible presence that French poetry can acquire in the anglophone context through translation and anthologies. Moreover, it examines the ways in which the presence of new or decontextualized voices affects poetic systems. Finally, it considers whether an approach to translation that sees it as an embodied, interpretative process may allow some access to the présence of the ‘original’ poetic work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-194
Number of pages32
JournalIrish Journal of French Studies
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2018


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