French Leave: versions and perversions (Broken Sleep, 2023)

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French Leave follows RE:VERB in which Cliff Forshaw recreated Rimbaud’s terrestrial adventures from the Hooligan Poet and Seer in bohemian Paris, through the years as a tough merchant and gun-runner in Africa, to his death aged thirty-seven in a Marseilles hospital. This new collection plays variations on the themes and forms of French verse from mid-nineteenth century Gautier and Gérard de Nerval, through Baudelaire and Rimbaud, to Valéry and Apollinaire on the eve of the First World War. Among the well-known figures, Forshaw invents further fin-de-siècle personae that might have existed, and possibly even did.

PRAISE for French Leave:

From Pound and Eliot to Derek Mahon, Marilyn Hacker and Rachael Boast, Anglophone poets have looked to France to take their art to school. In French Leave Cliff Forshaw does the same, with a dazzling bouquet of translations and ‘variations’ taking off from French originals. With Gallic esprit and polish, and a strong admixture of zest and sass, Forshaw’s versions range beyond canonical favourites into strange and enchanting territory. French Leave is no vin de table, but a vintage performance. — David Wheatley

The high energy of Cliff Forshaw’s poems makes me think particularly of John Donne and the other Metaphysicals: argument, wit, erudition, and force of feeling all working to convey an authentic vision of the world we live in. — Christopher Reid

Further details and poems from French Leave are available on the Broken Sleep website. Click on the link below:

Cliff Forshaw - French Leave Broken Sleep Books

My translation of Paul Valéry's "Le Cimetière marin" appears on the Tupelo Quartely website.

Paul Valery Archives - Tupelo Quarterly

Other poems from the collection can be found on The Common website:

Some of the versions of poems by Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Apollinaire are also available on this website through the Translations: versions and perversions page.

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