Several poems-in-translation by Mary-Sherman Willis (poetry, ’05) of the French poet Jean Cocteau appear in Eleven Eleven:

Jean Cocteau
Translated from the French by Mary-Sherman Willis


The skater launched himself onto the virgin ice, compelled to reproduce with his bladed feet the inextricable meander of a line that he carried inside himself, trapping his soul, straightjacketed as it was and under police interrogation. He would be free if he chiseled at great speed a surface from which the gash threw off shavings of snow. A masterpiece that the spectators applauded as if it were a simple acrobatic exercise. Sometimes he left behind several images of his body that would rejoin him, then precede him and invite him to join them. With crossed arms, he leaned, straightened up, sped ahead fast, turned, took off, careful never to break off his calligraphy. For an hour he inscribed his curled upstrokes and downstrokes without one error. [… continue reading this and other translations here.]

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