The French poet Pierre Martory is here published comprehensively for the first time in Britain. His formative impact on John Ashbery, and through Ashbery on a host of English-language poets, is considerable. "The Landscapist" provides a bilingual selection of the poems in Ashbery's luminous translations. 'After I began translating Pierre Martory,' writes Ashbery, 'that is, after I began to realize that his marvelous poetry would likely remain unknown unless I translated it and brought it to the attention of readers, I have begun to find echoes of his work in mine. His dreams, his pessimistic resumes of childhood that are suddenly lanced by a joke, his surreal loves, his strangely lit landscapes with their inquisitive birds and disquieting flora, have been fertile influences for me.' Some poems here are previously unpublished, the brilliant inedits vivid and memorable. An introductory biographical essay by Ashbery and bibliographies complete this book.
Pierre Martory was born in Bayonne in 1920 and spent much of his childhood in Morocco. He entered the School of Political Science in Paris in 1939, and in June 1940 escaped from Paris on the last train to leave before the Germans arrived. After a brief stay in prison in Lyon he succeeded in joining the French Army in Morocco, and subsequently fought alongside the Allied forces in the Tunisian campaign. After the war he suffered from depression and drifted through a series of jobs, eventually becoming the editor of Paris-Match. His novel Phebus ou le beau mariage was published in 1953. John Ashbery's translations of his poems have appeared in Poetry (Chicago), American Poetry Review and The New Yorker. He suffered a stroke in 1995 and died in 1998.