Earthlight: Poems

Written by André Breton | Translated by Bill Zavatsky and Zack Rogow
Black Widow | January 7, 2017

Best known in the United States as the mastermind of the Surrealist movement and as the author of Nadja, André Breton has always enjoyed in Europe the reputation of being a brilliant poet as well. Bill Zavatsky's and Zack Rogow's award winning translation of Breton's Earthlight (Clair de terre) introduces the English-language audience to the delights―and complexities―of Breton's amazing poetry. Written to friends and fellow Surrealists such as Pablo Picasso, Tristan Tzara, Robert Desnos, Francis Picabia, Pierre Reverdy, and Max Ernst, the poems in the collection date from 1919 to 1936, spanning Breton's involvement with Dadaism and his founding of Surrealism.

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André Breton (1896-1966) was a French writer, poet, and surrealist theorist, and is best known as the principal founder of Surrealism. His writings include the Surrealist Manifesto (Manifeste du surréalisme) of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism." His poetry and writings all remain in print to this day. In addition, a vast and continually growing assemblage of writings on, biographies, and museum exhibits continue to keep Breton alive and in public view though out the world.

Translator Bill Zavatsky worked as a pianist from the age of fifteen to twenty-five and studied music at the New School. He holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Columbia University. With Zack Rogow, he cotranslated Earthlight: Poems of André Breton, which won the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize. Zavatsky also co-translated The Poems of A.O. Barnabooth, by Valery Larbaud, with Ron Padgett. He is the author of Where X Marks the Spot ; For Steve Royal and Other Poems ; Theories of Rain and Other Poems (1975) and his work has appeared in the anthology Will Work For Peace: New Political Poems . He is also the director of SUN, which publishes volumes of poetry and SUN magazine.He lives in New York City.

Translator Zack Rogow is the author, editor, or translator of nineteen books and plays, including seven collections of poetry, a novel, three anthologies, four volumes of translation, and a children’s book. His translations of George Sand, Colette, and André Breton have won numerous awards, including the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Award and the Northern California Book Award in Translation. His children’s book, Oranges, was a Junior Library Guild Book-of-the-Month. He reside in San Francisco.

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