The poet Paul Colinet (1898–1957) was a primary figure in the Belgian Surrealist group, one of the many productive offshoots of the Paris Surrealists formed in the early part of the 20th century. While remaining allied to the group in Paris, the Belgian Surrealists developed an autonomous style and a concern all their own, and Colinet was one of their shining stars. His poems—rich with the enchanted atmosphere of the folk parable and fairy tale, as well as a generous helping of Rimbaud and the Comte de Lautréamont—are imbued with a dream-like aura, rife with wordplay and contradiction, and suffused with a playful sense of the fantastic.
Experimental in both language and narrative, Colinet’s works are a treasure trove, and wholly deserving of a spot beside those of other masters of the French prose-poem like Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, and Henri Michaux. But despite having been first translated by Paul Bowles in Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler’s View magazine in 1946, much of Colinet’s work has still never been rendered in English. The Lamp’s Tales, a decades-spanning set of translations by Rochelle Ratner and Michael Kasper, is a small corrective to this oversight, and an estimable introduction to the poet’s fanciful and daring world.
The Lamp’s Tales
by Paul Colinet
Translated by Rochelle Ratner and Michael Kasper
Illustrations by Bob Heman
120 pages, perfect bound
Edition of 150
Rochelle Ratner (1949–2008) wrote four novels, Bobby’s Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986), The Lion’s Share (Coffee House, 1991), Mother and Child (Hamilton Stone Editions, 2009), and Dear Diary (Myrmaid Press, 2015), as well as a collection of short stories, New York Lonely (Myrmaid, 2015) and 16 poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2005). She was Executive Editor of the American Book Review and reviewed regularly for Library Journal. Those of her books published by Marsh Hawk are still available from SPD and Amazon, and as ebooks at http://myrmaidpress.com/.
Michael Kasper is a book artist—Plans for the Night (Benzene, 1987), All Cotton Briefs (Benzene, 1992), The Shapes and Spacing of the Letters (highmoonoon, 2004), etc.—and a translator of, among others, Saint Ghetto of the Loans by Gabriel Pomerand (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006).