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Lunar Solo: Selected Poems by Jules Laforgue (Translated by Mark Ford)

Lunar Solo: Selected Poems by Jules Laforgue (Translated by Mark Ford)

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Largely unread yet one of the most influential forces on modern literature, Jules Laforgue was a brilliant French poet whose work was cut short by his untimely death at twenty-seven years old. Praised by Pound as “a father of light,” Laforgue has been overshadowed by the many poets he influenced—from Apollinaire to Prévert, Eliot to Joyce—until now. In this bilingual edition, Lunar Solo: Selected Poems, acclaimed poet and translator Mark Ford achieves in English the playful, wild, and entertaining style of Laforgue’s poetry. Generally acknowledged as the inventor of free verse, Laforgue is part-symbolist, part-impressionist, and wholly unique. 


"The ‘first passion’ of T. S. Eliot and a major influence on Pound, the poet, translator, essayist, and travel writer Jules Laforgue has nonetheless broken through only fitfully into the Anglophone literary consciousness. If there is any justice in the world, this astute selection, in Mark Ford’s deft, inventive, reader-friendly versions, will finally give the man his due." -Mark Polizzotti


Jules Laforgue was born to French parents in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1860. Following the outbreak of war between Uruguay and Paraguay in 1866, he was sent to school in Tarbes in the southwest of France. Almost all of Laforgue’s poetry was written while he was employed as French Reader to the Empress Augusta at the Imperial Court of Prussia from 1881-1886. During his lifetime he published only two volumes of poetry, Les Complaintes (1885) and L’Imitation de Notre-Dame la Lune (1886). In 1887 he moved with his English wife, Leah Lee, to Paris, hoping to make a living as a freelance writer. Shortly after their arrival, however, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and died in August of that year. Generally acknowledged as the inventor of vers libre or free verse, Laforgue has proved enormously influential on many writers, in particular on the modernist poets T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.

Mark Ford was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1962. He has published four collections of poetry: Landlocked (1992), Soft Sift (2001), Six Children (2011), and Enter, Fleeing (2018). Other publications include Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams (2001), Thomas Hardy: Half a Londoner (2016), and Woman Much Missed: Thomas Hardy, Emma Hardy, and Poetry (2023), as well as three collections of essays, the most recent of which, This Dialogue of One, was awarded the Poetry Foundation’s 2015 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism. He is also the editor of London: A History in Verse (2012) and of the ongoing Library of America edition of the poetry of John Ashbery.


Publishers Weekly

Poetry Foundation

London Review of Books

New York Review of Books

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