The most famous of Henri Michaux’s poetry collections, now in a new translation from the French.
The strange bumbling figure of Plume, a poetic personage pretty much like no other, preoccupied the great Belgian poet Henri Michaux throughout most of his career. Plume was, Michaux said, his favorite creation. Plume, which is to say feather or pen, is a character who drifts from one thing to another, losing shape, taking new forms, at perpetual risk from reality. He is a personification of the imagination, but the imagination as subject to innumerable pratfalls and disgraces, and yet indestructible in spite of itself. The whole Plume cycle comes to some forty poems, in prose and verse, many of which have never been translated into English until now. Here the outstanding translator and distinguished scholar Richard Sieburth presents a bilingual edition of a book that he describes as “among the drollest texts in modern French poetry. Michaux adored Charlie Chaplin and seems to be inventing the Marx Brothers avant la lettre. But he’s also quite aware of Franz Kafka and Paul Klee. Like all great comedy, it’s all about tone and timing. Which is what I’ve tried to get in my versions.”