Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

French Poems— Eric Sarner

Feb 27, 2023 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the French by Hélène Cardona


Almost a wandering song. Eighty Judeo-Spanish words brought back from travels.


French Poems by Eric Sarner

Image used for representation.


to go,
going and at times

fazer la ida sin la venida,

to know you will not return,
or even ignore it

la ida esta en mi mano, la venida no sé kwando

I leave, you know, I know I’m leaving,
but when will I return?
somewhat advanced in years.
Yes, I will return old or not return.


I remember floor tiles
a turbaned woman washed with water.

En kada kaza ay un dolor de korazon,

everywhere, at once, yesterday or later
like a torment from the heart.

ajwera de kaza?

Are we happier away from home?
Often, the thing leads you
rather than vice versa:

to be carried away is not giving up,
nor refusing to act, no,
it may be celebrating the action
for itself,
going in the world
dancing the way,
because you belong there.


It was said that revenants
prowled the evening shadow
Wednesdays and Saturdays
they must neither be named
nor referred to
but why are they harmful?
Above all, never provoke them.
To the children, nothing was said of the dead,
of death.
(For fear of provoking it?)

A mi daño, to my detriment;

vino ensupeto me daño
his arrival without warning
scared me.

Un daño, a whim

I like this:
dizen ke Spinoza tenia un daño:
apenas via un arañero,
lo apañava i se lo komia!

Spinoza never resisted
a spider:
he would catch and munch it!

The chocolate spider!

The above extracts are taken from Coeur chronique (Ed. Le Castor astral, 2013), translated by Helène Cardona for the US magazine, Brooklyn Rail (October 2016 issue)

Also, read a Bengali fiction by Upal Mukhopadhyay, translated into English by Haimanti Dutta Ray, and published in The Antonym:

McCluskieganj— Upal Mukhopadhyay

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Eric Sarner was born in Algiers—then a French territory—in 1943. He is the author of about twenty books: poetry collections, travel writing (USA, Haïti, Algeria), essays, and translations from English and Spanish. He is also a recognized performer of his own poetry. As a journalist, he published a large number of articles in various media and participated in numerous radio programs. Sarner also directed about twenty documentary reports for various French and international TV channels. Both his literary and audiovisual work have received recognition and awards.

Hélène Cardona’s books include Life in Suspension and Dreaming My Animal Selves (both Salmon Poetry) and the translations Birnam Wood (José Manuel Cardona, Salmon Poetry), The Abduction (Maram Al-Masri, White Pine Press), Beyond Elsewhere (Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac, White Pine Press), Ce que nous portons (Dorianne Laux, Éditions du Cygne), and Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings (University of Iowa’s WhitmanWeb). She has also translated Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Aloysius Bertrand, Eric Sarner, René Depestre, Ernest Pépin, Jean-Claude Renard, Nicolas Grenier, Christiane Singer, Lea Nagy, and John Ashbery. Her own work has been translated into 17 languages. The recipient of over 20 honors & awards, including the Independent Press Award, International Book Award and Hemingway Grant, she holds an MA in American Literature from the Sorbonne, received fellowships from the Goethe-Institut and Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, worked as a translator for the Canadian Embassy, and taught at Hamilton College and Loyola Marymount University.


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