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Review: Six Catalan Poets, ed. Pere Ballart

© Gerry McGrath, PN Review 213 vol.40 no.1, September – October 2013

may the cogs of the gears go on holding!
May pulleys and winches and belts go on turning!
......let us preserve the System

With vanishing irony, Elies Barbera stands a familiar battle cry on its head. What - no revolution of the word? Ah well. So much for genial antecedents. And yet. How often in this remarkable anthology, among the meditations on translation, allusions to histories both antique and contemporary, do we find references to defective memory? Forgetfulness, amnesia, remembrance; traditionally the stuff of novelty and change. It is one of the achievements of this book (and presumably the others in the series) that it manages at once to introduce fully fledged poets, virtually unknown in their own region, who represent in their varying ways continuity and break, prospect and retrospect. These notations o oblivion, exemplified by Barbera, situate the poetry within a wider context of European cultural engagement while confirming the distinctive feel and flavour of the original.

This is a smart book that will reward anyone with an interest in contemporary European poetry. An informative introduction is balanced by translations that are honest and affecting. Overall the quality is such that t encourages the belief that the other books in the series will have much to commend them.