Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 21 December 2015

  • 01 43 15 50 67

    for Fabienne

    By the time we finished talking it has snowed
    We’d laughed and sighed like a pair of sisters
    Can you see this caribou from your window it’s a cloud
    A moose an ermine little moving fox
    It changes every moment changes to sky-blue-sky
    If the night has stars in it it’s a promise of blue
    Have you checked out the chimney-stacks the great she-bears
    We ought to see oceans more
    We shouldn’t need a second glance to make out a giraffe
    All white white white white where you are as well?
    A squid a cuttlefish an octopus might add a splash of ink
    All white white white without red rabbit eyes
    We mustn’t make each other late time’s getting on I’d better go
    There are some in dotty frocks and some in geometric shapes
    And oh I almost forgot
    Old things float up and new ones too
    A slotted spoon a convalescence or a precious stone
    Jewel of sleeping water there was a cat called that
    It was
    Drowned jewel
    Clouds don’t miaow though jewellery can trickle down
    When we stopped our oneversation we came down as snow

    by Valérie Rouzeau; translated by Susan Wicks


    This is the final Weekly Poem of 2015. The poems will return to your inbox on 11 January. A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our readers!

    ‘01 43 15 50 67’ is copyright © Valérie Rouzeau; translated by Susan Wicks, 2013. It is reprinted from Talking Vrouz by Valérie Rouzeau, published by Arc Publications (2013).

    This poem continues our series featuring work from collections shortlisted for The Poetry Society’s Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize 2015, judged by Olivia McCannon and Clare Pollard, and supported in 2015 by the British Council. The winner of the competition was Iain Galbraith, who translated Jan Wagner’s book Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees (Arc Publications, 2015). You can find out more about the competition and all the shortlisted books on the Poetry Society website.

    Susan Wicks
    , poet and novelist, was born in Kent, and has lived and worked in France, Ireland and America. She is the author of six collections of poetry including House of Tongues (2011), Singing Underwater (1992), which won the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize, and The Clever Daughter (1996), which was shortlisted for both the T. S. Eliot and Forward Prizes. She was one of the Poetry Society’s ‘New Generation Poets’ in 1994. Cold Spring in Winter (2010), her translation of Valérie Rouzeau’s first major collection, Pas revoir, was shortlisted both for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize for Literary Translation and the International Griffin Prize for Poetry, and won that year’s Scott Moncrieff Prize for Translation from French. Her translation of Valérie Rouzeau’s second collection in English, Talking Vrouz, won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize for Literary Translation in 2014. You can read a discussion with Susan and Valérie on the Arc website, and hear the pair read one of Valérie’s poems and its translation together.

    Valérie Rouzeau was born in 1967 in Burgundy, France and now lives in a small town near Paris, Saint-Ouen, well-known for its flea-market. She has published a dozen collections of poems, including Pasrevoir (l'Idée Bleue, 1999), Va où (Le Temps qu'il Fait, 2002) and more recently Apothicaria (Wigwam, 2007) and Mange-Matin (l'Idée Bleue, 2008). She has also published volumes translated from Sylvia Plath, William Carlos Williams, Ted Hughes and the photographer Duane Michals. She is the editor of a little review of poetry for children (from 5 to 117 years old) called dans la lune and lives mainly by her pen through public readings, poetry workshops in schools, radio broadcasts and translation. Valérie was selected to represent France in the 2012 Cultural Olympiad Poetry Parnassus in London.

    Since it was founded in 1969, Arc Publications has adhered to its fundamental principles – to introduce the best of new talent to a UK readership, including voices from overseas that would otherwise remain unheard in this country, and to remain at the cutting edge of contemporary poetry. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. As well as its page on Facebook, you can find Arc on Twitter. Visit Arc’s website to join the publisher’s mailing list, and to find full details of all publications and writers. Arc offers a 10% discount on all books purchased from the website (except Collectors’ Corner titles). Postage and packing is free within the UK.

    Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.