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Selected Poems

by Guillaume Apollinaire, introduction by Peter Read, selected and translated from the French by Ron Padgett

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Zone is the fruit of poet-translator Ron Padgett’s fifty-year engagement with the work of France’s greatest modern poet. This bilingual edition of Apollinaire’s poetry represents the full range of his achievement from traditional lyric verse to the pathbreaking visual poems he called calligrams, from often-anthologized classics to hitherto-untranslated gems, from poems of cosmic breadth to a poem about his shoes. Including an introduction by the distinguished scholar Peter Read, helpful endnotes, a preface, and an annotated bibliography by Padgett, this new edition of Apollinaire stands out not only for its compact and judicious selection of the essential poems but also as the work of an important American poet. The Washington Post has said, “No praise can be too high for Ron Padgett’s translations.”

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Poets
ISBN: 9781590179246
Pages: 288
Publication Date:


Ron Padgett’s translation from the French is pitch perfect and dazzling.
—Deborah Levy, The Guardian, "Best Summer Books 2018"

How well does Padgett apply these laudable [translation] precepts in this book? In two words: amazingly well. When I read the poems in French, I kept thinking “Now how can you possibly put that into English?” Then I looked at the facing text. And thought, to paraphrase Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, “By God, he’s got it! He’s really got it!” It’s like watching a little boat in high seas: how can it possibly make that wave, and that one? But it does, easily: it just floats up and over them. Padgett makes it look easy. We translators know nothing is harder than that.
—David Ball, Translation Review

Padgett breathes new life into Apollinaire’s best work, with translations suited to a modern American audience in this dual-language edition....Padgett does a great service to Apollinaire’s legacy with this revitalized translation.
Publishers Weekly

Padgett has translated forty-seven poems by Apollinaire for this handy bilingual Selected Poems, which, moreover, is excellently introduced both by the translator and by Peter Read.
—John Taylor, ArtsFuse

In Zone, Selected Poems by Guillaume Apollinaire, Ron Padgett demonstrates that translators should be willing to sometimes mistranslate in order to revivify a text’s more distinctive formal characteristics. Idiosyncrasies and dalliances abound in Padgett’s judicious sampling (as they do in Apollinaire’s oeuvre)...One of the joys of reading Zone is discovering the utter range of Padgett’s stylings as both translator and poet...Zone contains Apollinaire’s ambiguous vapors and punchy crystallizations alike, though it also succeeds in materializing what we love most about Padgett.
—Dylan Furcall, BOMB

The one poet of our time who, in lightness and depth of inspiration, in spontaneity and clarity of expression… in purity of voice… beauty of music, can stand beside Sappho, Anacreon, Alcaeus.
The American Poetry Review

The poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire is like no other: clear, full of light, bright with movement, with the transparency of flowing water. Even from the chalk trenches of the First World War, it sings like love, compassionate and friendly, in a French the language had only dreamed of before he wrote.
Translation and Literature

One of the most fascinating and elusive figures of modern French poetry.
—Scott Bates, French Review

Apollinaire’s distinction lies in his being the first poet of our age who is “modern” and popular at the same time, modern in his many technical and thematic innovations and popular in his simple directness of speech, his familiarity of expression, his tender lyricism, the richly sonorous quality of his purest songs…and in the deeply human affection that pervades all his work.
The Kenyon Review

Praise for Ron Padgett’s translations

A superb translation! Ron Padgett, himself an important poet, catches precisely the French poet’s rhythms, his colloquialisms, his racy diction and emotional resonances.
—Marjorie Perloff

No praise can be too high for Ron Padgett’s translations.
—Dominic Di Bernardi, The Washington Post Book World

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