Paul Legault was born in Ontario and raised in Tennessee. He holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Virginia and a B.F.A. in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California. His poems have been published in Denver Quarterly, FIELD, Pleiades, and other journals. He is the co-editor of the translation journal Telephone. Currently, he is working on an English-to-English translation of the complete works of Emily Dickinson, part of which has been published as a chapbook, The Emily Dickinson Reader, vol. 1 (Try and Make, 2009). Paul lives with his husband, Orion Jenkins, in Brooklyn, NY where he works at the Academy of American Poets.
Praise for The Madeleine Poems:
Into the restless profusion of contemporary poetics comes a new figure, Madeleine. She comes in a series of meditations and invocations, and seems somehow shielded from the brute violence and exposure that pervades our lives. “There must be a common/thing to strive for/as for a system/ of limits.” History is here, in uneasy tangents; landscape is here, lonely in its names; luminous images are here but they are not pictures; music is here in a spare, phrasal pacing. George Oppen wrote “we abandon one another.” Here, in The Madeleine Poems, modernity's abandonment becomes a bare harbor into which sail vessels carrying unexpected cargo: “Then there was no body but a garment./Then you are naked in the day's corridors. /I am a tassel. Do/beware me.” One imagines a crowd on the shore, welcoming Paul Legault's beautiful fleet of poems.
-- Ann Lauterbach, author of Or To Begin Again
and Judge of the Omnidawn Poetry Award
THE MADELEINE POEMS is a book I have long been looking for. “Madeleine” is a voice and a vision which gracefully announces the world. As one of the poems says, “It shows it forth… this /wide menagerie of things and of pictures /and of pictures of things.” Pictures which include “the cordage of the Susquehanna,” and the brave world, not new, but newly brave, evoked by a poet's language of amazement. If making poetry is an ultimate proof of the humanity of the maker, then Paul Legault's invitation is
for us all to, not listen to these poems, but to be them--to truly enact them.
Proust may have had his memorable madeleine, but it doesn't hold a candle to the remarkable, shape-shifting title figure of Paul Legault's superb debut collection, The Madeleine Poems. You've heard it here first: this is one of the most exciting, mysterious, alarming, and compelling collections you will read this year.
-- David St. John