Home > Poetry > Knothead
Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
Published: Thu Apr 15 2004
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas

Knothead wears jeans, knothead
Wears blue he writes to be
A writer writes that he is a writer
And gets his pals to write
That no one could be more a writer
His photo says it all it’s the face
Of a writer with a flair for writing
Who smiles at grim fate and then
Pounces on its smile and slobbers
It with kisses or scratches his scribbles
At the precipice’s edge to make
The world shut up while he suffers
In his solitude and squints, one eye
On nothingness the other on the press.


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Hédi Kaddour was born in Tunisia in 1945 but has lived in France since childhood. He has published six books of poems, including, most recently, Passage au Luxembourg (Gallimard, 2000), as well as a collection of essays on poetry, L’Emotion impossible (Le Temps qu’il fait, 1998). He lives in Paris and teaches comparative and French literature, drama, and creative writing at L’Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon. Other poems of his in Marilyn Hacker’s translation have appeared in numerous English-language journals including APRThe Kenyon ReviewThe New Yorker, The Paris Review, PloughsharesAGNIPoetry, PN Review, Prairie Schooner, and Verse, as well as in the Faber anthology Twentieth Century French Poems. (updated 4/2004)

Marilyn Hacker is the author of fourteen books of poems, including Blazons (Carcanet Press, 2019), A Stranger’s Mirror (W. W. Norton, 2015), and Diaspo/Renga, written with Deema K. Shehabi (Holland Park Press, 2014), and an essay collection, Unauthorized Voices (University of Michigan Press, 2010). Her eighteen translations of French and Francophone poets include Samira Negrouche’s The Olive Trees’ Jazz (Pleiades Press, 2020) and Claire Malroux’s Daybreak (New York Review Books, 2020). A Different Distance, a collaboration with Karthika Naïr, will be published by Milkweed Editions this December. (updated 10/2021)
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