We'll See: Poems by Georges L. Godeau

SKU: 978-1-60235-283-4

We'll See: Poems by Georges L. Godeau

Translated by Kathleen McGookey

Free Verse Editions
Edited by Jon Thompson

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978-1-60235-283-4  (paperback, $14; £10; $15 CAD; €12; $14 AUS); 978-1-60235-284-1 (ebook, $14; £10; $15 CAD; €12; $14 AUS) © 2012 by Parlor Press. 125 pages, in English translation.

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We’ll See, originally published in France in 1995 as On Verra Bien by le dé bleu, is Georges L. Godeau’s first book translated into English.  This is a collection of ninety brief prose poems, most of which focus on ordinary people and events.  Godeau’s prose poems are disarmingly and deceptively simple, yet resonate with each other.  Godeau has said, “A poem should not last longer than its emotion.”  Still, his prose poems capture, almost photographically, moments of everyday life.  Jacques Reda has said that Godeau’s poetry is poetry of “what happens when nothing happens.”  In his account of a day spent with Godeau, Xavier Person observed that his poems were a lot like his modest house in Magné, France—a little cold, excessively clean, very tidy, and without a lot of furniture—poems that contained only the most straightforward and impassioned elements.

What people are saying . . .

In Georges Godeau’s We’ll See, the ordinary, quotidian details of everyday life reveal the miraculous lurking there, and each poem becomes a window on the absolute. These poems are quiet, efficient, but unsettling in their deep resonances. Although little happens in Godeau’s poems, each is filled with lucent, telling particulars. His poems, so calm on the surface, accrue enormous power. Like frames in a movie, each poem appears almost static, but in congress, they span immense psychic and spiritual geographies. Godeau exposes a world in which the marvelous is all around us, a world in which “Providence has blue eyes.” Godeau’s terse prose poems are the perfect vehicle for his modest, unassuming voice, and Kathleen McGookey has rendered Godeau’s laconic utterances in colloquial American English that is true to the original, and absolutely convincing in translation. —Gary Young

There’s no one else like Georges L. Godeau: he has invented a poetry of daily life with a gaze that is at once tender and concrete, almost objective (so he counts stars or people, years, the animals in a herd, he adds everything up). He pays attention to meek, ordinary people, to the delicate ties of friendship, and he says, “We’ll see,” and then it is clear like water. In Godeau’s poems, which contain nearly everything, everything is understandable. —Valérie Rouzeau

In these magical poems, trap doors open suddenly in ordinary scenes: If you are not big and strong you will not get the grilled salmon. A mother and daughter, after working hard, had lunched in town, like two ladies. A man refilling a prescription in a pharmacy remarks, out of nowhere, No, I don’t have a gun. I’m grateful to Kathleen McGookey for introducing me to this wonderful poet, and for her translations, which are so translucent I feel as if I’m reading the French originals through their clear lenses. I like to think of her book introducing Godeau’s sensibility to countless other readers, and their faces lighting with pleasure in one room, one town, one city after another, just as Godeau’s poems illuminate the people and places he writes about. —Sharon Bryan

About the Author

Georges L. Godeau was born in 1921 in Villiers-en-Plaine, France, and worked as an engineer, specializing in rural areas.  He also devoted himself to writing; his first book was published in 1962 and he published fifteen more books before his death in 1999.  Several more volumes have appeared posthumously.  His work won the Prix du Livre in Poitou-Charentes in 1991.

About the Translator

Kathleen McGookey received both her PhD in literature with a creative dissertation and her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, and her BA in French from Hope College. For her translation of We’ll See, she received a Hemingway grant from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her book of prose poems, Whatever Shines, was published by White Pine Press. Her latest work is a chapbook entitled October Again (2012, Burnside Review Press).


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