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traduite de l'anglais par Jacqueline Starer
éditions d'écarts
5, rue de l'Arbalète
75005 Paris
ISBN 2 912824 50 8
email éditions d'écarts
visit Éditions d'écarts' website
email the translator
visit Keith Barnes' website


This is a bilingual edition of the collected poems of Keith Barnes. The poems are translated from English into French by Jacqueline Starer.

The poems are grouped by theme into six sections. The first section is LOVE POEMS. These lines from STARFISH are typical of the mood the poet creates:

	That night   we didn't care too much
	We lay relaxed in every moment
	letting the starfish come and go
	Nothing to gain      nothing to lose
	that night


	You simply roomed me in your bed
	We could have slept apart with ease
	without the slightest nervous strain
	There were two beds      but there was no point
	that night

The next section is headed COUPLES, FAMILIES. The first few could easily have been included in the previous section although they move on to estrangement. VARICOSE is a particularly nasty poem with some shocking imagery. One wonders if it should be in the WAR section — or would that re-location change our conception of the poem?

The section WRITING, DEATH has interesting poems like INSOMNIA:

	Svelte tongues of silence prick my eardrums
	It's night    — the Friday of the mind's weekend
but here the writing is perhaps too reflective and lacking some of the joyous, carefree abandonment of the LOVE section.

WAR. AFTER WAR includes some strong poems — here are some lines from NATIONAL SERVICE:

	Night sentry	treading an ice-packed path
	...	On one side	the moor
	on the other	a distant parade of light —
	cars on the Great North Road	...
In the group SOCIETY, SOCIAL CRITICISM are some pieces that seem experimental in nature — here's WHY?
	my niece    my nice  ice  niece
	in an off ice   ice nice  office
	works   in mono  tonimo
	noton  y  constant
	inopletocthegreeks  but just constant
	Perhaps  one otonous day
	y not spring or summer
	she'll shout  ono  onus
	i constantit
	i cantstandit  an y more
How this wordplay works in translation I can't say!

The final section is labelled NATURE, MUSIC which I guess really means, those poems which don't fit in the other categories, my favourite of these STILL-LIFE is not really just a picture of nature.

Barnes was a versatile writer who wrote with much freshness. Very little of his writing is stale or sounds stilted. This volume is an excellent edition.

reviewer: Gerald England.