Henri Droguet
Translated from the French by Alexander Dickow

Clatters is the first translation of Henri Droguet's poetry published in the United States. Here the original text appears alongside Alexander Dickow's exquisite translation, in a collection that is at once wonderfully cluttered and strikingly barren. As Dickow puts it in his Afterword, “Never, perhaps, has so pure a litany of despair, vanity, destruction and decay given rise to such vibrant language.”

"In Clatters, Alexander Dickow has beautifully translated the eminent and singular French poet Henri Droguet. Dickow has a lovely feel for idiom and sonic texture, and his poetic intelligence matches Droguet's subtlety. His introductory essay illuminates Droguet's place in French poetry, and meditates more generally about "loner" poetry and the principled refusal to traffic in the literary marketplace. It's a little book, but large, spiritually."
—Rosanna Warren

48 pp., perfect bound

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Published in February 2014


Henri Droguet's Clatters is a series of textual 'bricolages,' the poet's accurate description of his own work, appearing in translation here for the first time. At once wonderfully cluttered and strikingly barren; meaning and sound, man and landscape, interiority and exteriority merge together in this collection, as overcast as the landscape of the poet's home of Northern Brittany.

Droguet's characters are unfortunate phantoms, existing outside of time but anchored to a desperately isolated world by crunchy phrases evoking the haggard, the weary and the rusty. Clamorous and unruly textual fragments, disjointed syntax and sonic textures are framed in an atmosphere of playfulness. Wordplay, inversions, 'ellipses, anacolutha, paranomatha, parataxis.' Language unmakes itself, serving as another inconstant in an enchanting and terrifying world. Clatters is a telling title, the eponymous verb indicative of a sonorous contact, friction or conflict, of the mechanical vocabulary and the physicality of the poems.

The work is full of binaries -of editorial production, of the poet's equivocal fame, of the double valence of Droguet's world. As such, Clatters is particularly effective as a bilingual publication. As puppets and phantoms wrestle with new ways of inhabit the stark landscape, “as the paving stone resounds in time with that human stump pummeled lacking forward marching” (Littéralement/Literally,) the translation contributes to new ways of inhabiting the literary landscape. Although Droguet's work is filled with figures that produce crisis, this is certainly not the case with Alexander Dickow's exquisite translation, the result of a highly collaborative process and exceptional relationship between translator and poet.

Both translation and poetry are language-led means of approaching a truth. In this instance, Dickow was faced with the challenge of using his own words to redo the author's work of undoing, to retell the cyclical story mapped onto the pages; of the rise and fall of tides, of desolation and regrowth, of splendor and desolation; to wonder at ruin.

—Aoife Roberts, for Rain Taxi