The Book of the Snow by Francois Jacqmin, translated by Philip Mosley (shortlisted for the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize) is a book of highly-distilled poetic essence and a literary accomplishment of importance.
(Superlatives, should be added, do not come close to doing justice to the book's content.)
Read this book, whether your interest lies within the realms of poetry and poetics, literature, philosophy, meditation or if you find yourself out on a limb ready to explore a new creative perspective.
You will not be disappointed; for your enjoyment the discovery of Jacqmin’s surprising poetic vision can progress in two parallel linguistics registers – the original French version is paired up with its English translation.
The Translator’s Preface by Philip Mosley and the Introduction by Clive Scott are well thought out guideposts (and delightful reads on their own merits) that trace a path through Jacqmin’s work and provide insights into his artistic temperament.
The simple act of opening the book at random equates with being sucked into a vortex of meaning, the projected elegance of white in Jacqmin’s unique reverberation of thought, void and everything else in between:
“There is neither forest nor thought
of the forest,
but an inner distance worsened by branches.”
Where exactly does the blinding beauty of Jacqmin’s “Book of the Snow” stem from? One possible answer may be in the 10-line format of his poems, and the aphorism-like construction of his metaphors.
The aphorism platform acts as enhancer to his 'one-two' poetic 'punches':
“Would it be a pardon too bitterly craved:
unassailable non-suit of the self?”
“We see nothing except
that whiteness verging on a scissor stab
in the eye.
the gaze feeds on its own pulp.”
Jacqmin’s poems can also be read as a never-ending exordium into a poetic discourse on the precariousness of meaning and its putative boundaries:
“What we understand
complicates what is already disjointed.”
“And infinity oozes torment.”
It is this sweet infinity and its white torment that make The Book of the Snow a memorable read.