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.

Effacing – Lise Gauvin

Dec 3, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the French by Patrick Williamson

Space reinvented
Fleeting power of white
Frail skiffs moored
to passing life
“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”
Intimate maps
Improbable exits
Mysteries Mirages
Wandering tamed
Nebula and Nests, Nudities
Tranquil Traces
in the provisional eternity
of the Tableau


The landscape
put on its Sunday best
took on the festive look
of a modest New Year
just what’s needed
to attract looks
and change
the pace
of the walker



She already knew
giddy departures and
the unexpected on roads
she returns
from afar
towards scenes
she finds


Unexpected abundance
Diaphanous lace
windows of light
inventive inscriptions
on the fearless paving
of inner cities



Quiet strength
of things
until the preset
Sensitive figuration
of disappearance



Absolute beauty
of eloquently
shapeless forms
of impetuous



How much longer
How many seasons
before it takes leave
from the memory of mankind
until only an image remains
of what was


She does not know
has never known
will never know
neither before
nor after
nor even why
life passes
Insidious presence
Unstable promise
What will remain of all this?


The magic of the moment
between suns
Fragments of universes


She disregarded
looked elsewhere
the poet’s face
among silent
head bowed
hand well extended
take leave
of the city
with a discrete farewell


Nomad among nomads
she haunted
all the faces of waiting
in anonymous
stations and
with pleasure
the giddiness
of lives
that escaped
the time
of clocks


Random lines
constantly restarted
the snowy interludes
ruthlessly decline
their own


Lise Gauvin is a writer and musician, professor emeritus at the University of Montreal, long-time literary critic for Quebecois daily newspaper Le Devoir, and has published more than twenty books, including Lettres d’une autre and La fabrique de la langue. From François Rabelais to Réjean Ducharme. She was awarded the Prix du Québec Georges-Émile-Lapalme in 2018 and the Grande Médaille de la Francophonie from the Académie française for the body of her work in 2020. In 2019, she published L’effacement, an artist’s book with Editions Transignum and ten photographs by Wanda Michuleac, and a novel entitled Et toi, comment vas-tu? in the fall of 2021.

Photo credit: Nadia Zheng

Patrick Williamson is an English poet and translator. Most recent poetry collections: Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2018), Beneficato (SE, 2015), Gifted (Corrupt Press, 2014), Nel Santuario (SE, 2013; Menzione speciale della Giuria in the XV Concorso Guido Gozzano, 2014). Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012) and translator notably of Max Alhau (France), Tahar Bekri (Tunisia), Gilles Cyr (Quebec), as well as Italian poets Guido Cupani and Erri de Luca. Recent translations in Transference, Metamorphoses, The Tupelo Quarterly, and poems in The Black Bough, The Fortnightly Review notably. Longstanding collaborator with artists’ book publisher Transignum, member of the editorial committee of La Traductière, and founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.


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