Francis Ponge


Francis Ponge: Things

Francis Jean Gaston Alfred Ponge (French: [pɔ̃ʒ]; 27 March 1899 – 6 August 1988) was a French essayist and poet. Influenced by surrealism, he developed a form of prose poem, minutely examining everyday objects. … From 1952 to 1965 he held a professorship at the Alliance française in Paris. In 1966 and 1967 he was a visiting professor at Barnard College and Columbia University in the US. In his later years Ponge was a recluse, living at his country house. He died in Le Bar-sur-Loup at the age of 89. … In his work, Le parti pris des choses (often translated The Voice of Things), he meticulously described common things such as oranges, potatoes and cigarettes in a poetic voice, but with a personal style and paragraph form (prose poem) much like an essay.  Ponge avoided appeals to emotion and symbolism, and instead sought to minutely recreate the world of experience of everyday objects. He described his own works as ‘a description-definition-literary artwork’ which avoided both the drabness of a dictionary and the inadequacy of poetry. His principal aim was to avoid stereotypical thinking. In Le Grand Recueil (The Grand Collection), published in 1961 he explained his “concentration on simple objects – stones, grass, directed towards a restoration of the power and purity of language,’ according to his obituary in The Times.  In 1967 he published his best-known work, Le Savon, translated as Soap (1969), a long prose poem that, in the words of The Times ‘is unique precisely because, and often very humorously, it exhausts the topic of the word and the thing.’ An extract from the original, and an English translation published in 1969, illustrate this. …”
Wikipedia
Jacket2: Francis Ponge translated by John Ashbery
Poetry Foundation
The Paris Review: Soap By Dan Piepenbring
amazon: Francis Ponge

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