Winner of the Robert Fagles Prize for Contemporary Poetry in Translation
Eléna Rivera’s succeeds beautifully in setting the rhythms of the French original into English. The succession of poems has a fluency that becomes as mesmerizing as any mode of transport, for Rivera is remarkably adept at varying the lines, landing with emphasis or muting the effect as she follows the speed and light of Noël’s themes. Those themes are no less than a meditation on the traveler’s encounter with landscape in the late twentieth century. Noël takes on distant shots and close-ups, moving too quickly to see particulars or so slowly that objects become abstractions, conveying the smells, tastes, and sounds of each location in wholes and parts, reflectively considering what is invisible to a visitor, and meditating on the ancient theme of the voyage of life with great vividness and freshness.
Bernard Noël is a poet, novelist, historian, and art critic. He received the Prix National de Poésie, France’s highest literary prize, in 1992. Eléna Rivera is a poet and translator who lives and teaches in New York.