José-Flore Tappy

a poem

All around us
voices snake
then slip off

so much anxiety
under these light words
no longer clothing us
under this worn-out fabric
already split open
by our bony shoulders


Autour de nous
des voix serpentent
et puis s'éloignent

tant d'angoisse
sous ces paroles légères
qui n'habillent plus
sous cette toile trop usée
que percent déjà
nos épaules d'os

José-Flore Tappy was born in Lausanne in 1954. She is the author of five volumes of poetry: Errer mortelle (Payot, 1983), Pierre à feu (Empreintes, 1987), Terre battue (Empreintes, 1995), Lunaires (La Dogana, 2001), and Hangars (Empreintes, 2006). She has won two prestigious Swiss literary awards: the Ramuz Prize for Errer mortelle and the Schiller Prize for Hangars as well as her entire poetic oeuvre. She works as an editor and scholar at the Centre de Recherches sur les Lettres Romandes at the University of Lausanne. In John Taylor’s translations, her poems have appeared in the Antioch Review, the International Literary Quarterly, Carte Blanche, Asymptote, Trans Lit Magazine, Thrush, Two Lines, Rowboat, and The Bitter Oleander.

John Taylor received a 2011 NEA grant for his project to translate Georges Perros’s Papiers collés and a second grant, from the Sonia Raiziss Charitable Foundation, to translate Louis Calaferte’s Le Sang violet de l’améthyste. He has recently translated books by Philippe Jaccottet (And, Nonetheless, Chelsea), Pierre-Albert Jourdan (The Straw Sandals, Chelsea), and Jacques Dupin (Of Flies and Monkeys, Bitter Oleander Press). Taylor’s most recent collection of personal writings is If Night is Falling (Bitter Oleander Press). He is also the author of the three-volume essay collection, Paths to Contemporary French Literature (Transaction), as well as Into the Heart of European Poetry (Transaction).