"There can be no escape from trees by means of trees."
The ordinary objects to which Francis Ponge directs his attention--a tree, an oyster, a cigarette--come uncannily alive in his seminal first book of prose poems, newly translated by Joshua Corey and Jean-Luc Garneau. Published in 1942, as Ponge was enlisting in the Resistance to the Nazi occupation of France, these poems offer their own dryly humorous resistance to our tendency to take "things" for granted as either dead matter or as commodities for our disposal. Arch, alive, and unexpectedly profound, here is a new Ponge for the age of hyperobjects and the revenge of nature, a poet of the Anthropocene avant la lettre.
Read my essay "Trying to Translate Ponge" and two poems from the book at the Poetry Society of America.
Read three poems from the book that were published in the July/August 2016 issue of Poetry: