Drunken Boats by Alan Jenkins


If you’ve been following my series of reviews of The Cahier Series published by Sylph Editions, then you know Cahier #4 is next in this wonderful line-up. Alan Jenkins’ love for the poet Arthur Rimbaud shines forth in his cahier, which features the famous Drunken Boats (Le Bateau ivre), translated from the French by Jenkins. Also featured are two original works by Jenkins celebrating the style of Rimbaud and his passion for the sea.

I think most amazing to me was to learn that Rimbaud had not only written Drunken Boats at the age of seventeen, but that he had never been to sea before writing it. Anyone who has had the pleasure of reading this work will know that you can’t read it without experiencing vivid imaginings of a vast and complex sea. Jenkins’ translation is smooth and seemingly effortless, giving the poetry lover something rich to visit again and again. 

Alan Jenkins’ own two poems are also a great pleasure to read, evoking images of Rimbaud’s sea. The three works in one volume make for a powerful combination, enhanced all the more by the incredible artwork I’ve been learning to expect from The Cahier Series.  

1 comment to Drunken Boats by Alan Jenkins

  • paul stubbs

    Having read this translation by the English Poet Alan Jenkins i can only conclude that the blurbs and descriptions of his ‘Drunken Boat’ have been written by his mother. The Poet himself, a lightweight and insipid practioner of the poetic craft, has produced a ‘version’ that would have infuriated Rimbaud beyond anger. Having also spoken to many French translators in Paris they also are at a loss as to how such a terrible thing could possibly be praised, yet of course it has been? The publishers of this series will of course tell us that they were not looking for a translation but a poetical ‘interpretation’ of the said work; but alas, the poet has come up with neither, and has given us a truly shabby version, that never recalls or reimagines the brillance of the original, or adds anything new to the already bulging conveyor-belt of existing translations.


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