Raw Material



Derek Mahon’s previous translation work includes plays by Sophocles, Euripides, Racine and Rostand; Words in the Air (Gallery Books, 1998), a selection of poems by Philippe Jaccottet; Birds (Gallery, 2002), a version of Oiseaux by Saint-John Perse, and Adaptations (Gallery, 2006), comprising a wide range of European poets ancient and modern.

These new adaptations include work based on Propertius, the principal T’ang poets, Rimbaud, Jorge Guillén and the fictitious ‘Gopal Singh’. Also represented here, in a striking new departure, are the Haitian poet Jean-F. Brière, and an African group translated from French. Some of these versions are quite literal; others try only to ‘recreate the spirit’ of their originals.

A translation by Mahon is an exciting event . . . Mahon’s love of the French 19th century is well established, but there are numerous welcome surprises in the poets assembled here, including a section from the Chinese, some Pushkin, Ibsen and Quevedo, and a scattering of Congolese poets. . . Mahon revisits and renews the concerns of a lifetime, . . . ‘Antarctica’ gives its name to a much-anthologised Mahon villanelle, and the translation here of a Neruda poem on the icy continent is one of the highlights of Raw Material. (His) last collection of his own work was title An Autumn Wind, but even with this Antarctic chill the temperature of Raw Material is closer to an Indian summer.

— Aingeal Clare, The Guardian

Year Published: 2011
Details: 80pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 523 4
ISBN HBK: 978 1 85235 524 1