The Tower

By (author): Paul Legault

W. B. Yeats meets Gregg Araki at a gay bar.

The Tower is a “translation” of W. B. Yeats’s The Tower—an homage and reinvention of the poet’s greatest work. Whereas Yeats’s book contended with his mortality as an aging spiritualist Irish Senator, this version contends with a new mortality: ours.

The poems in this collection crystallize the transition from Legault’s late twenties to his early thirties, situated in North America during a time of political upheaval. It takes each of Yeats’s poems as a starting point and queers them. It translates Yeats’s modernist urge, on the other side of a long century.

In her review of The Tower, Virginia Woolf says Yeats has “never written more exactly and more passionately.” One might imagine she’d conclude the same here. You can’t fault these poems for lacking passion.

Yeats used to talk to ghosts. His wife would let ghosts talk through her. They would talk to Yeats, and he would write down what they say. Another way you could put it is that Yeats talked to his wife. Ghosts are much closer than you think. They like to live in books. So Legault spent some time talking to Yeats’s ghost. Or, Yeats’s ghost talked to him. This is him talking back.

“Through Legault, the opening of Yeats’ words in the title poem shift and turn from absurdity to one of anxieties around ageing” —rob mclennan’s Blog

“If you’ve never cared about poetry, you will after reading these modern-day renderings…” —Maria-Claire

AUTHOR

Paul Legault

Paul Legault is the author of The Madeleine Poems (Omnidawn, 2010), The Other Poems (Fence, 2011), The Emily Dickinson Reader: An English-to-English Translation of the Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (McSweeney’s, 2012), Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror 2 (Fence, 2016), and Lunch Poems 2 (Spork, 2018). He also co-edited The Sonnets: Translating and Rewriting Shakespeare (Nightboat, 2012). He currently lives in New York City. 


Reviews

“If you’ve never cared about poetry, you will after reading these modern-day renderings…” —Marie-Claire


“Through Legault, the opening of Yeats’ words in the title poem shift and turn from absurdity to one of anxieties around ageing” —rob mclennan’s Blog


“Sheer genius that begs to be recited aloud.” —Daily Candy


“A valuable contribution to the field of radical translation.” —Lambda Literary Review


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Excerpts & Samples ×

A PRAYER FOR MY DOG

I wish the strongest ghost were here
to guard my Brooklyn baby
from whatever things are
until it’s all just easier thoughts
like breakfast. Make sure
my bodyguard guardian angel’s packing.
I don’t want to have to mourn on the internet.
If I were in the post-apocalypse,

I’d do a lot of worrying.
What else? I’d plant a tree.
I’d change my name to Merlin,
hunt wild game in an abandoned Target,
then die of something lame
like dehydration or death.
Everything’s an everyday thing
every day. Your favourite weapon

is also the katana. I don’t think
people want to see
a movie about my life,
but maybe a poem,
if that’s something you can look at
with whichever eyes look in language.
I missed my dog, so I wrote her.
Dear Laura Dern,

Dear deer in the way in the snow,
when I’m travelling through the dark
like a proper samurai, because of you
I don’t wear loud shoes anymore.
When dogs die I feel old.
People expect you to set an example.
Some people light roses on fire
in Photoshop. I don’t know any trees I want to be.

Reader Reviews

Details

Dimensions:

96 Pages
7.5in * 4.5in * 0.8in
0.29lb

Published:

April 14, 2020

Publisher:

Coach House Books

ISBN:

9781552454114

Book Subjects:

POETRY / American / General

Featured In:

All Books

Language:

eng

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