NEA Literature Fellowships

Daniel Bellm

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(2013 - Translation)

About Pierre Reverdy

Pierre Reverdy (1889-1960), a leading figure in twentieth-century French poetry, founded the groundbreaking journal Nord-Sud in 1917 with Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire, publishing those poets and the early work of Andr̩ Breton, Louis Aragon, Jean Cocteau, and many others. He was closely associated with Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris, each of whom illustrated one or more of his books. Breton's first Surrealist Manifesto hailed him as "the greatest poet of the time." Reverdy's allusive, dreamlike poems have influenced not only French poets but such American writers as Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Creeley, Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Alice Notley, and a new generation of experimenters with language.

Dan Bellm is a poet and translator based in Berkeley, California. His translations of poetry and fiction from Spanish and French have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Two Lines, Circumference, Pleiades, The Village Voice, and other journals and anthologiesIn 2013, several translations of French poet Pierre Reverdy will appear in the anthology, Reverdy (New York Review of Books, NYRB Poets), and his book-length translation of Mexican poet Jorge Esquinca, Description of a Flash of Cobalt Blue, will appear from Unicorn Press. He has also published three books of poetry, most recently Practice (Sixteen Rivers Press), winner of a 2009 California Book Award. He teaches literary translation at Antioch University--Los Angeles and at New York University.

Art Talk with Dan Bellm

Translator's Statement

In 1970, I was a teenage college student, casting around half-blindly in the bookstores of Boston and Cambridge for poems that would speak to me, and there, "by accident," inside Frank O'Hara's companionable little book of Lunch Poems,I came upon one that ended casually, ecstatically, "My heart is in my / pocket, it is Poems by Pierre Reverdy." But who was that? And who doesn't desire such a feeling, of carrying around a secret heart? I certainly did, and soon enough I found that slim volume of Kenneth Rexroth's translations, which guided me back to the original work in French, and I haven't stopped reading Reverdy since, over many years of translating poetry and writing poems of my own.