Claire Trévien’s Low-Tide Lottery

Claire Trévien by Richard Davenport

Claire Trévien was born in 1985 in Brittany. She is a poet, critic and literary translator. Her writing has been published in a wide variety of literary magazines including Under The Radar, Poetry Salzburg Review, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Warwick Review, Nth Position and Fuselit. Earlier this year she published an e-chapbook of poetry with Silkworms Ink called Patterns of Decay. She is the editor of Sabotage Reviews and Noises Off. She was the winner of Leaf Book’s 2010 Nano-Fiction Competition. 

Low-Tide Lottery is an introduction to the work of upcoming poet Claire Trévien. This is an exuberant collection that rummages in the rust of the everyday in search of beauty. It crackles with imagination, rubbing history together with the present to create unexpected, wild imagery. Bodies become machines, Minotaurs and ancient Greek gods stalk the streets of Paris. Both theatrical and intimate, the author’s native Brittany is a backdrop to many of these poems.
“Whenever I read new poetry I’m looking for someone else’s delight in language and ideas; for work that commands and sustains my attention. What I never expect, but what I found in Claire Trévien’s work, is a voice already so mature and refined it reads like a previously untranslated classic rather than a debut. These are serious, visually stunning poems of nationality, history and memory, but they’re personal and generous in their wit, as formally innovative as they are endlessly engaged and engaging. Reading them is like spending an hour in the company of someone you secretly admire. The world could do with fewer blurbs and more great poetry so I’ll leave it at that.”
– Luke Kennard
“Auden said that the first sign of an authentic gift in any poet was a passion for language, and she has that richly, but she possesses other vital resources too: an engagement with history, a talent for expressing the intellect through the senses, a subtle weave of intimacy and openness, and all the best things that French culture gives its children. She hears the silence after the tempest – and knows how to make us attend to it too.”
– Michael Hulse
“This is fresh, exuberant, intellectually serious poetry, enriched by a French passport and a French library; Claire Trévien  draws fruitfully on her joint heritage to create poems infused with formal questioning, linguistic vivacity and local colour. History, family, personal experience express a hierarchy of memory and questioning, made sharper by its access to – and sometimes drift between – two languages, each with its own life. There is a lot happening in these poems, and it is never – as the poem ‘1798’ almost puts it – ‘Alors qu’il ne se passe rien’.  An exciting first pamphlet.”
— Katy Evans-Bush
An Urdu poet is born, a Dutch anatomist dies.
Zirkonerde, Nina, L’artiste et sa fille
Public Good,
and The Power of Sympathy.
First inaugural ball, three tidal waves in Coringa.
Belgium declares independence from Vienna.
History of the American Revolution,
Traité élémentaire de chimie, Panthéon,
An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.

Giuseppe Balsamo is arrested for freemasonry,
Japan bans streetwalkers, the toothpuller is captured,
Jafar Khan is poisoned, Casanova is probably enraptured.
At last comes to the US a machine for macaroni.
Songs of Innocence, Le Misogallo,
La fille mal gardée, Parigi sbastigliato.

Russia fights Sweden, Russia fights Turkey,
Abdul Hamid stops writing poetry.
The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne, also Charles IX,
die Metamorphose der Pflanzen zu erklären, The Botanic Garden.
Alors qu’en France il ne se passe rien*.
*  Louis XVI famously wrote in his hunting diary for 14 July 1789:

Art boils and is thrown into the gutter, oil spills
rainbows around the island of a dropped glove.
The tendons of windows are exposed, plastic
flapping over the guttural mouth. ‘Hey love!
You In-glish?’ The market’s skeleton shines
its claws at night, but in this twilight, only
songs are shred as the smile of the knife
cuts ripe pears in half. Beggars want your grin
to light on their burnt-out eyes. Rue de Belleville’s
shirt is open, neon lights winking through for
Chinese joints and Turkish-Greek restaurants.
Offside are the labyrinths, darkened and grim
where minotaurs pulse from wall to wall
their rum breath like  a thread suspended
above the groove of piss. You catch through
a broken bottle the glint of Avalon.
This cog of a hill cranks some more,
the eyes of Eiffel on your back until the top:
Pyrénées. There are no glaciers here, just iced
tea, the place looks less like another country.
Here the walls don’t wear their hearts.
from Low-Tide Lottery (Salt Publishing, 2011).
Order Low-Tide Lottery.
Visit Claire’s website.
Visit Sabotage Reviews.

1 thought on “Claire Trévien’s Low-Tide Lottery

  1. Pingback: Three poems from Claire Trévien’s Low Tide Lottery « daysofroses

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