Editor Paul Auster begins his introduction to this anthology with a quote by Wallace Stevens: "French and English constitute a single language." This feeling is the basis of the book, which consists of French poetry translated by British and American poets. These translators include many notable contemporary poets, including John Ashbery, W.S. Merwin, Lydia Davis, and Ron Padgett. As Auster writes, this anthology's purpose "is not only to present the work of French poets in French, but to offer translations of that work as our own poets have re-imagined and re-presented it."
Each poem appears in its original French and is accompanied by the English translation on the facing page. Poets Tristan Tzara, Jacques Prévert, Max Jacob, and Andre Bréton are just a few of the forty-eight French poets included in this anthology. The anthology is ordered by date of birth, and only poets born after 1876 were considered. Though it was published over twenty years ago, this anthology remains a comprehensive and useful tool for anyone interested in twentieth century French poets.
Also see Modern Poets of France, edited and translated by Louis Simpson (Storyline Press, 1997).