La Presse

The time of insects of
roots of obstacles
adept and bent on
our aim
We swim in clear water
stripped bare and fully
exposed it’s almost
​unthinkable
It traps light and
goes for the most
reckless or the most
          oblivious

I (Nocturnal)





​From unknown heights
we guess at the stars
each one a shot
​in the dark
TranslatorMatthew Smithlives in Oakland. He has translated three works by the Belgian writer Jean-Philippe Toussaint and is completing a dissertation on contemporary French and American poetry at UC Berkeley. 
Frédéric Forteis a poet who works in complex forms that shift gracefully through the spatial, the musical, and the theoretical. A member of the Oulipo since 2005, he has created various structures, such as his “minute operas,” (published in an English translation as Minute-Operas by Burning Deck Publications, 2014) and his carefully timed “chronopoems,” and collaborated with Oulipo members Ian Monk and Jacques Roubaud on various other invented forms. He has published six books of poetry and five works in the Bibliothèque Oulipienne series, as well as a co-translation with Benedicte Vilgrain of the German poet Oskar Pastior. His Based in Paris, he is a frequent visitor at residencies throughout France, where he teaches workshops and seminars.
Seven String Quartets begins with a playful take on the tradition, laying out their phrases to echo the spatial arrangement of musicians on stage and capturing the simultaneity of the musical chord. Sometimes painting vivid visuals, sometimes cracking cultural jokes, sometimes celebrating the sheer force of sound that resounds in all language, these poems yet never quite perform in concert—instead they keep tuning up their instruments, fidgeting and fussing, sighing and shrugging, until they quietly, beautifully, exit the stage. Throughout the work, we're swept along by what turns out to be a surprisingly subtle, finely nuanced performance.