Bill Zavatsky‘s pyrotechnic translations of 10 of Arthur Rimbaud’s iconic poems, including The Drunken Boat, capture shades of Rimbaud’s insouciant bohemianism, aloof urbanity, bemused romanticism, and adolescent prankishness. These translations originally appeared in Big Bridge 15 (edited by Michael Rothenberg) in 2011.
Zavatsky holds B.A. and M.F.A degrees from Columbia University. For many years he taught at the Trinity School in Manhattan and most recently at the Eugene Lang College of the New School and Poets House. He runs a free walk-in poetry workshop at the Morningside Library on the Upper West Side of New York City.
His books of poems include Where X Marks the Spot and Theories of Rain and Other Poems. His translation (with Zack Rogow) of André Breton’s Earthlight won the PEN/Book-of-the Month Translation Prize. He also translated (with Ron Padgett) The Poems of A. O. Barnabooth by Valery Larbaud. Other poets he has translated include Robert Desnos, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Ramón Gómez de la Serna.
His poetry has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including The Face of Poetry, Seriously Funny: Poems about Love, Death, Religion, Art, Politics, Sex, and Everything Else, The Jazz Poetry Anthology, and the forthcoming Rabbit Ears: The First Anthology of Poetry About TV. He has received fellowships from the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the MacDowell Colony. In 2008 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry.
Haiku & Co
In Bill Zavatsky’s new book of very short poems, the attitude ranges from charming to sarcastic—but always playful. In Haiku & Co., Zavatsky’s eyes are wide in the narrow corridors of New York City, and in the narrow form of haiku (and some variations).
(Omerta, 2016) 27 pages
Rimbaud 10 Poems
Translated from the French by Bill Zavatsky
(Omerta, 2014) 16 pages
Here’s one of the 10 poems:
THE STOLEN HEART | LE COEUR VOLÉ My sad heart drools at the poop, My heart drowned in tobacco juice: They splash it with jets of soup, My sad heart drools at the poop:— Beneath the insults of the crew Bursting into general laughter, My sad heart drools at the poop, My heart drowned in tobacco juice! Ithyphallic and greenhornesque, Their insults have depraved it! On the rudder you see frescoes Ithyphallic and greenhornesque! O abracadabrantic billows, Ithyphallic and greenhornesque, Their insults have depraved it! When they’ve chewed their plugs, How to act, O stolen heart? There will be Bacchic hiccups When they’ve chewed their plugs: And I’ll have a stomach fuckup, If my heart’s dragged through the muck: When they’ve chewed their plugs, How to act, O stolen heart?