Norma Cole’s Translation of Franck André Jamme

Franck André Jamme and Norma Cole

Introduction by Rebecca Eland Wenrick

norma cole

Franck André Jamme is a renowned contemporary French poet, and like his predecessors Henri Michaux and René Daumal has been profoundly influenced by the visual and spiritual arts of India. In particular he has studied and published works on the tantric art of Rajasthan, most recently Tantra Song (Siglio Press). Jamme has been celebrated by Edmond Jabes and René Char, and previously translated by John Ashbery. In 2005 he received the Grand Prix de Poesie de la Societe des Gens de Lettres. He divides his time between Paris and Burgundy.

Norma Cole is a poet, painter and translator. WIN THESE POSTERS AND OTHER UNRELATED PRIZES INSIDE is her most recent book of Poetry. Other books of poetry include Natural Light, Where Shadows Will: Selected Poems 1988—2008 and Spinoza in Her Youth. A book of essays and talks, TO BE AT MUSIC has also appeared. Her translations from the French include Jean Daive’s A Woman With Several Lives, Fouad Gabriel Naffah’s The Spirit God and the Properties of Nitrogen, Danielle Collobert’s It Then and Crosscut Universe: Writers on Writing From France. Cole has received awards from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, Gertrude Stein Awards, the Fund for Poetry, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. In 2008 she curated an exhibition at the Cue Gallery. Also in 2008, Cole was a Regents’ Lecturer at UC Berkeley. In 2011 she was a columnist at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s “Open Space” She teaches at the University of San Francisco.

from To The Secret
by Franck André Jamme, translated by Norma Cole
(She didn’t stop repeating to him
that it was just a matter of a shield
against the wolves. Against the madness of the wolves.)


the being
of the rope dancer

as precise
and light
as his steps

the abhorrence
of shackles

she who said


it’s true

you will live

it’s your luck


the very delightful
of memory

the thoughts before which
suddenly rises
one enormous thought

the beings
who begin to dream
on the road
and little by little
the path
into their dream


the alloys
of fever
and of resignation

the great she-wolves
at the edge of town

who teach
their children


getting lost
in the waterfalls


the matter

firmly breathed

the rapid hands

that wind up
the unique gestures
punctuating visions

all the seas
always wet

even without the least rain



ready to deny
any evidence


the feeling
that something lost
is walking around in your dreams


suddenly pushed to penetrate
one of your thoughts
with this promise

give it
what it needs to live on


that will do the rest


these landscapes where
one should be able
at once
to stare deeply
and not find anything more
around oneself

terror visits
before beauty

the strange joy
of being fed
by hand
by someone going by
who gives you something to eat
without knowing

without looking at you


the episode
where one happens
to slide into his head
a kind of order
that will jump then
into the whole body
like water
to any slope

with the idea
of upsetting


the gift of love

the desire to clasp the tree
of the right stars


the houses free

with laughter

the toads
of spite

the lucidity

that sometimes shoves the door open
so blindly
that it’s the soul
who doesn’t see it any more


the fact of protecting
a wish
in a coat
a little tired

the longing
not to attract attention

the hours
that it takes
like those missing
come and go
without the least sign
in their gaze


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