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Summoned: Poem 1977–1982
Summoned: Poem 1977–1982
Translated by Monique Chefdor and Stella Harvey
Introductions by Stella Harvey and Monique Chefdor
Afterword by Lucie Albertini Guillevic
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The sixteenth of the twenty-five major works of Guillevic published by Gallimard since 1942, Summoned (Requis) represents a pivotal moment, reaffirming the poet's position as an essential voice in contemporary French poetry. Noted for its ceaseless probing of the ungraspable enigma experienced in every immediate encounter with the material world, be it with stone, sea, a leaf, a blade of grass, the poet's vision now opens onto the ultimate reaches of the universe. The poet is summoned to bear witness to the human mortal condition and at the same time heed the compulsion of "our touch/ Upon the limitless."
Praise for Guillevic's Summoned
To translate the movements of one existent into another is poetry's privilege. It is also what life does. The living exchanges that take place between existents as dissimilar as a leaf and a cloud, or a pebble's surface and a human hand, are what Guillevic's poem celebrates and exemplifies. This sensitive translation by Monique Chefdor and Stella Harvey gives English-speaking readers the chance to listen to a Breton poet's unique engagement with spheres of living that extend even to the interstellar. —STEVEN WINSPUR
A poem and its translation have been compared to a brocade and its underside: the threads are all there, but the magic is lost. This certainly does not apply to the translation of Guillevic's Requis by Monique Chefdor and Stella Harvey. Summoned is its own rich brocade, all the more striking given the daunting task of capturing the elegant simplicity of the form and the ineffable reaches of the content. For, embedded in the multi-layered poetry are both the yearnings of mystics to experience ultimate reality and the endeavors of physicists to explore the unknown realms beyond three-dimensional human existence. —KATHERINE KREUTER
About the Author
Eugène Guillevic (1907–1997) was one of France's leading poets in the second half of the twentieth century. Guillevic, as he preferred to be known, published more than thirty-five collections of poetry in his lifetime.
About the Translators and Contributors
Monique Chefdor, formerly professor of French and Comparative Literature at Scripps College, Claremont University Center, California, and Maître de Conférences in Comparative Literature at the University of Picardie Jules Verne, France, has published extensively on 20th century French literature, notably on Cendrars, Proust, Segalen, Guillevic, and the relationship between painters and writers. She has translated works of Cendrars into English: Complete Postcards from America, (University of California Press, 1976, introduced Modernities and Other Writings, translated in collaboration with Esther Allen, (University of Nebraska Press, 1992), introduced Guillevic: The Sea and Other Poems, translated by Patricia Terry (Boston: Black Widow Press, Commonwealth Books, 2007). The author of "Le cantique du quantique" in Guillevic maintenant, (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2011) and Guillevic et les peintres, (Paris: Editions Calliopée, 2007), the catalogue of the exhibition she curated for the National Celebration of the centennial of the poet's birth, she was one of three speakers for a DVD, "Guillevic and Painters" (University of Rennes II: crea/cim, June 2007), and participated in several radio interviews on Guillevic, including a one-hour national broadcast on France Culture.
Stella Harvey is the author of a monograph Myth and the Sacred in the Poetry of Guillevic (Amsterdam-Atlanta: Rodopi, 1997), and has published a number of articles on Guillevic, the most recent of which appear in Guillevic maintenant and Notes Guillevic Notes (Vol I, Fall/Autumn, 2011). She has also published in the field of applied linguistics. She is a senior lecturer in the Centre for English Language and Academic Writing at Goldsmiths University of London.
Lucie Albertini Guillevic, the poet's widow, is a writer and translator. Her collaborations as a translator have introduced to major French publishers (Maurice Nadeau, Gallimard, Actes Sud, Arfuyen) some forty Swedish and Finnish writers, including August Strindberg, Stig Dagerman, Ingmar Bergman, Bo Carpelan, Lars Gustafsson, Edith Södergran,Tua Forsström, Lars Norèn, Paavo Haavikko, and Pentti Holappa. Her paper "Traduire à deux: notes autour d 'une pratique " given at the fifth "Rencontres de Liré" in Anjouis included in the proceedings of the colloquium Le français dans les langues d'Europe (Rennes: Presses Universitaires, 2012). To date, she has edited and introduced seven posthumous volumes of Guillevic's works.