“In this remarkable first translation into French, full of nuance and sparkle, Marie Frankland breathes new life into Elizabeth Smart’s poetic. With respect for these exceptional poems, which were composed over four decades, the translator shows genuine creative talent, meeting the challenges presented by the text with accuracy and finesse while adjusting to the various tones, topics and forms. It is an intimate encounter between author and translator.”
—Peer assessment committee: Anne Malena, Pascal Raud and Chantal Ringuet
Poèmes 1938-1984 is a four-part collection of decades of relentless poetic work that demonstrates the indefatigable vigour of a woman devoted to her muse. Having struggled throughout her life to reconcile the demands of motherhood with her vocation as a writer, Elizabeth Smart touches on that struggle in many of her poems, portraying an era when women fought to carve out a place for themselves in writing circles, grappling with the barriers imposed on them and the dilemmas of everyday life. Throughout the collection, she combines the trivial and the universal, and she indulges in moments of pure exaltation, marvelling at plants’ determination to live, for example, or of extreme desolation, particularly in the face of the ravages of war, which had a deep and very personal impact on her. Without complying with strict rules, the lines of verse in this collection also celebrate the masters who inspired them, addressing them directly, sometimes insolently, in order to allow their author to exist in poetry.
Marie Frankland is a literary translator specializing in poetry and fiction. With Éditions du Noroît, she published Poèmes 1938-1984 (French version of The Collected Poems, by Elizabeth Smart), in 2020; Quel est ce lieu (French version of a selection of poems by Ian Ferrier), in 2017; Passage de Franklin (French version of Franklin’s Passage, by David Solway), in 2012; Le tamis des jours (French version of a selection of poems by Robyn Sarah), in 2007; and La chaise berçante (French version of The Rocking Chair, by A. M. Klein), in 2006. She has won the John Glassco Translation Prize and has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award twice and the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Translation. Marie Frankland lives in Montréal, Quebec.
Photo: Annie Goulet
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