Jan Owen

Three Views of Edo

Fireworks at Ryogoku Ryogoku hanabi (8/1858) More than flowers or mayflies, fireworks touch the sadness at the heart of things mono no aware, the lit-up dying Now. The now of all those cracker nights: throwing penny bungers, dodging jumping jacks …

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Translation of Jean-Baptiste Cabaud’s ‘The Shepherdesses Painted in Blue’

Jean-Baptiste Cabaud is a poet and writer who was born in 1970 in Savoy. He has lived in Lyons since 1993, working as a graphic designer for twelve years. From 2005 he has devoted his time to poetry, written, spoken, …

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Dominique Hecq Reviews Charles Baudelaire: Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du Mal

Les Murray endorses Jan Owen’s translation of Charles Baudelaire’s Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du Mal (1857) on the book’s back cover: ‘Jan Owen’s Baudelaire brings the French conjuror closer to me than any version I’d ever read.’ Although we could take umbrage to the term ‘conjuror’ being used in relation to Baudelaire, it is, on closer reflection, quite apposite. In fact it may apply to the French poet as well as his Australian translator, for both are magicians in their own way. Given Baudelaire’s impact on Anglophone poetry, poetics, and criticism, he needs no introduction to many readers of Cordite Poetry Review.

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Peter Kenneally Reviews Jan Owen and Tim Cumming

Every so often a reader will come across a book that seems custom-crafted for – or even, disconcertingly, out of – their own matter and marrow. For me Rebel Angels in the Mind Shop by Tim Cumming ticks boxes at a machine gun rate, even in its insouciantly avuncular foreword. There, Cumming gives an account of buying The Rebel Angels by William Robertson Davies (dense, curious, intricate), and then at Treadwells (a bookshop for occult fanciers) picks up a copy of Oral Folk Tales of Wessex, published in 1973 (‘a year I like – it’s got a nine, a seven, a three and a one in it, all powerful numbers’).

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The nosy dib, grub, moil of a prickly neighbour has razed another anthill, routing the troops – a spill of broken rosaries that soon rethread and reconnoitre to rebuild, with instinct, the overseer, directing the jet-black trickle’s spurt-stop-start. It’s an …

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Charles Baudelaire’s ‘Les Petites Vieilles’

Charles Baudelaire, born in Paris in 1821, was one of the greatest nineteenth-century French poets. He is a key figure in European literature, with a far-reaching influence – an example, in his life and in his poetry, of what it …

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Marilyne Bertoncini’s ‘The Night of Lilac’

Marilyne and I got to know each other when Marilyne very stylishly translated some poems of mine in 2009.When I read Marilyne’s poem ‘Nuit de Lilas’, I was intrigued and moved by the poem’s sensuousness and musicality, its shimmering painterly effect and sheer lift – an earthy immediacy heightened by the exotic. How could I carry across this airy and erotic blend of music, perfume and colour? It was clear that I would need to strive for the patterns of sound,format and image, and also that I might need some background and some botanical advice.

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SILENCE Editorial

Silence seems a paradoxical and perhaps daunting theme for writers, yet it strikes me as tantalizingly hospitable too. It was pleasing that 494 writers took up the challenge, submitting some 1100 poems; my warm thanks to you all. This high volume meant that a number of fine poems had to be regretfully declined. A common element in those I finally selected was assurance and presence, the sense of a person thinking through the poem – and of the poem thinking through the person. Precision, energy, surprise and an unlikely angle were other touchstones. Feeling, too, of course; silence, actual or metaphoric, can certainly be neutral, but more often it affects us either negatively or positively: as nothingness, dread, loss, denial and oppression, or else as affirmation, safety, intuitive understanding, intimacy, transcendence, and so on. For me, as for many of those submitting, the theme summons up death – the lost voices – but also a sense of mysterious imminence and immanence.

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Submission to Cordite 45: SILENCE now open!

Cordite 45: SILENCE is guest edited by Jan Owen Silence as a theme could be interpreted, explored and challenged in innumerable ways. It might seem quietly paradoxical to even think of writing about absence of sound and language, but then …

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Twilight to Dawn: Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire is, of course, a key figure in European literature, with a far-reaching influence – an example, in his life and in his poetry, of what it means to be modern. Les Fleurs du mal, his major work, was influenced by the French romantic poets of the early nineteenth century; it is formally close to the contemporary Parnassians, but is psychologically and sexually complex. ‘Dawn’ and ‘Twilight’ are from the ‘Tableaux Parisiens’ section of Les Fleurs du mal; this particular group of poems established Baudelaire as the poet of modernism, of the flux of urban life with its milling crowds and solitary individuals.

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