VICE VERSA
A Book of Poetry in English & French

by Renée von Paschen & Robert Paquin
Quattro Poetry, Toronto, 2017

Available at Quattro Books

About the authors:
Renée von Paschen and Robert Paquin



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REVIEWS OF "VICE VERSA"

Norman R. Shapiro:
This engaging collection, the inspiration of two of present-day Canada's most respected poets and literary translators, deserves to be read and savored, not only for the ingenious idea that produced it, but certainly no less for the gentle, unaffected elegance of the poetic art and craft that enlivens its pages.

Enjoying many years of devoted friendship and artistic exchange, Edmonton's Renée von Paschen, now transplanted to Vienna, and Montréal's Robert Paquin have bent their respective many-stringed bows, each to each in a work whose witty title is only the first of these poets' striking attractions.

Both multilingual, they limit their "vice-versifying" talents to French and English, welcoming us to the inner worlds of both their original poetry and its demanding, revealing hand-maiden: translation… In so doing, they remind us that translation is no mere pastime, but that it serves, indeed, to deepen and round out our appreciation of the original works in question.

"Bravo" and "brava," and a double "merci," to poets Paquin and von Paschen for this enriching and memorable collection!

(Norman R. Shapiro, Distinguished Professor of Literary Translation and Poet-in-Residence, Wesleyan University; Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française; Academy of American Poets)

George Elliot Clarke:
Canadian English and Canadian French are almost always monologues, and seldom do they dialogue except, well, in translation. But here's the magic of VICE VERSA: Both superb tongues are brought together--kissing, if also mutually tasting-- the flavour and savoir-faire of their gourmet courses, which is another definition of poetry. Renée von Paschen crafts exquisite images of delicate but indelible experiences: "The vanilla perfume/ of the oleander / seeps into the evening"; for his part, Robert Paquin turns out rhymes that trace the flow of feeling: "Close to my heart I hold you / With a smile on your face, / As if I were wearing a true / Flower in your place." There's an ineffable subtlety of congruence in the touching here of Rilke's "two solitudes," akin to the wonder that occurs when singular instruments duet in coinciding solos.

(George Elliot Clarke, Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate 2016-17)