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This review is taken from PN Review 90, Volume 19 Number 4, March - April 1993.

ORDERING THIS MATTER BETTER Bloodaxe Contemporary French Poets Series:
1. Yves Bonnefoy, On the Motion and Immobility of Douve, translated by Galway Kinnell
2. René Char, The Dawn-Breakers, translated by Michael Worton
3. Henri Michaux, Spaced, Displaced, translated by David and Helen Constantine - all £7.95;
Jacques Dupin, Selected Poems, translated by Paul Auster, Stephen Romer and David Shapiro (Bloodaxe) £7.95
Maryann De Julio, Rhetorical Landscapes: the poetry and art criticism of Jacques Dupin (French Forum) $13.95
Jean Cocteau, Tempest of Stars: selected poems, translated by Jeremy Reed (Enitharmon) £9.95

For modern or, more precisely, contemporary French poetry its post-war reception in England has been disappointing. A relatively small audience has been largely serviced by minor and/ or occasional imprints which have offered the opportunity of an entente with, among others, Max Jacob, André du Bouchet and Roger Giroux, but which have not signficantly altered the received idea that French poetry now is the history of footnotes to Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Rimbaud and Valéry. The days when it could be presumed - in Sterne's famous words - that 'they order this matter better in France' have been replaced by the supposition that the matter better ordered there is 'theory', poetics and criticism. For poetry the map has been redrawn, on a more centralized projection, with France out towards the margin. Bloodaxe, most refreshingly, are the first major poetry publishers systematically to encourage us to look again. The preliminary soundings in commentary (say, Robert W. Greene's Six French Poets of our time) and en masse presentation (Paul Auster's Random House Book, for example) are powerfully reinforced by Bloodaxe's epitomizing policy: a choice of poets, certainly, but above all a choice of particular books of poetry. Bloodaxe are also, however, committed to extending the focus by way of ancillary volumes, hors-série, but forming nonetheless a kind of parallel series, with Jean Tardieu (see P·N·R 83), Pierre Reverdy and now Jacques Dupin - who is also apparently to figure in the numbered series - having thus far appeared.

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