Document Type


Date of Award



French poetry, 20th century, Women authors, Women poets, Translations

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Marilyn Gaddis Rose

Second Advisor

Jonathan Chaves

Third Advisor

Eliane Jasenas


This bilingual anthology of contemporary French women poets grew out of my long-time interest in the poetry being written today in Europe and the Americas, and, in particular, the poetry written by French-speaking writers. In my research over the past two years I have noticed that very few women poets from France have received the critical attention which I believe they deserve both in their own countries and this country. In the major bilingual editions of contemporary French verse which have been published in the last decade, only three women are represented, compared with over 80 men. I believe that many good women poets on the contemporary international scene have suffered neglect as a result of their not being represented in the various anthologies, literary histories and critical works which have appeared. With the present anthology, I hope to expand the audience of six of the major women poets writing in French today, thereby encouraging a recognition of their artistic achievements and initiating a critical discussion of their poetry.

These six poets were not chosen just because they are women or because their work embodies a poetic vision which is characteristically feminine. They were chosen because they have written stimulating and imaginative poetry within the important trends of modern French poetry and because they are helping to shape a contemporary poetic vision which goes beyond national and linguistic boundaries.

Poetry which claims to belong to the modern tradition, a movement whose roots extend as far back as Nerval and Baudelaire, is characterized by a non-descriptive mode of expression. In the same way that the Impressionist painters were no longer content to render a copy of the world around them, the modern poet no longer uses words to reproduce a replica of what he experiences. Rather, he imposes his inner vision on the reality around him, thereby bringing about a transformation of the objects he sees. For the reader of modern poetry, then, a more important question than “what does the poem mean?” is “what is the poet saying?” Since the poet’s inner vision usually focuses on the most elemental impressions from the outside world—light, trees, stones, sun, stars, earth, darkness—he makes the raw materials of his poetic transformations accessible to everyone, and he no longer needs to depend on established social, cultural or mythical subjects to frame his vision. By focusing on material immediately accessible to everyone, the poets in this anthology eliminate the need for the reader to situate himself in a given sociological, political or mythical milieu. Thérèse Plantier speaks of such elemental things as water, darkness and sky; Andrée Chedid speaks of fire, earth and chasms; Annie Salager speaks of the furnishings of a room, and then distills these objects into their essence; Marie Françoise Prager speaks of tombs, birds and monsters; Yvonne Caroutch, of stars, rock, wind and silence; and Denise Grappe, of knives, wounds and labyrinths.

Available for download on Tuesday, April 01, 2025