Max Jacob

(translated by William Kulik)

Paper $14.95
(ISBN 0-932440-86-X)

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Even though he was an important founder of modernism, companion to Picasso, Modigliani, Apollinaire, and the early Surrealists, Max Jacob has remained a somewhat neglected and little-known figure. Now this delightful and utterly original poet has been given a detailed and careful presentation in English.

"These brilliant poems, these multifaceted diamonds, reflect back upon us even now as valuable informants on contemporary poetic style and as sheer, stand-alone genius. Kulik's translations are top-notch and the selection generously spans Jacob's whole life."
--Rain Taxi

"In these poems we re-enter, as if we'd never left it, the first world of modernism, in which the common schizophrenia was at last acknowledged, so that ever since we've been able to see and feel. Max Jacob was truly an original and monumental madman. And these translations by William Kulik are superb."
--Hayden Carruth


The Order of the Rainbow to decorate the night.
A palace of diamonds like lumbar vertebrae.
I sat at the edge of a merry crowd
With five bored women hothouse flowers
Whose eyes flashed furious at missing dessert
Heads twisting as a new guest arrived.
The terrace bright as fireworks
Full of dancing and fiery duels.
Inside on gorgeous divans people in costume
And Hindus with jewels embedded in their flesh
--None readier than they for the great adventure--
Awaited the impossible.
" Let's see your nails"--"Too bad they aren't pretty"
" And this line means your future's sad."
While elsewhere others did the dance of the nails motionless
Their hands flickering like stars.
I said to the fortune-teller: "What a marvel you are!
You've listed my woes so marvelously!"
Two of Balzac's heroes with amphibians' backs
Who entered my spine while my palm was being read
Said: "You shouldn't play with yourself in bed!"

--Max Jacob
translated by William Kulik

Copyright c 1999 by Oberlin College. May not be reproduced without permission.

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