Lockdown poems

Here you will find the translation of some of the Lockdown poems (Poèmes du confinement), by Abby Haber. Other poems will come, on this page, in the coming days

Abby Haber graduated in 2020 from Brown University with honors, majoring in Comparative Literature with a focus on French-English translation. During the spring semester of her junior year, she studied abroad at Université Paris 8, completing at the same time a full translation of a collection of poetry entitled Les Ronces (The Brambles) by Cécile Coulon. For her senior thesis, she produced a critical translation of Chloé Delaume’s first novel Le Cri du Sablier (The Cry of the Hourglass). Currently, she is at work creating a series on French-language literature with Trafika Europe Radio.

While social distancing in New York, Abby has been translating Les Poèmes du Confinement (Lockdown Poems). First, she worked on generating rough line-by-line translations. It was in the numerous passes afterwards that Abby added color and shape to the poetry—rewriting, adding, and deleting to echo the style, rhythm, register, and sound of the originals.

These English translations would not be possible without the help of the marvelously talented poets of Collectif Pou, who offered indispensable feedback, guidance, and support.


Day 0

I make my reading list
I don’t forget Treasure Island
which I put with Island of the Dead
And a very old edition of Friday, or the Other Island
Pages fall out of it, like flies
Shoot, Lord of the Flies, never read
“We’re all drifting, and things are going rotten”, well
Maybe I’ll need an Agatha Christie
And some aspirin
But out of superstition I leave out The Plague
I even throw it to the bottom of the garbage bag!
Camus won’t hold it against me
He washes his hands of it
with hand sanitizer

Samuel Deshayes and Guillaume Marie, french version here