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The  Book of Skies
Leslie Kaplan
Translated by Julie Carr and Jennifer Pap

//////124 Pages
14.5 x 21 cm

ISBN: 978-1-915341-20-4


The Book of Skies, like its predecessor Excess-The Factory, emerged from poet Leslie Kaplan's experience participating in the national strike and social revolution of ’68 in France. Early in ‘68 Kaplan, like others, left her studies in order to take on factory work, as an aspect of revolutionary practice. Excess—the Factory, puts the factory experience strikingly on the page in sparse and original language. The Book of Skies takes place in the period just after the ‘68 events as the central speaker now observes the places, landscapes, and people surrounding and relying on factory production in French cities, small and large. As the poem’s speaker moves from site to site, she finds possibility within the social spaces of the market, the street, the café, and even the factory itself. While class and gendered violence threaten to shut down hopes for freedom and renewal, the sky, as reality and as figure, functions as an aperture, drawing our attention upward and outward, even or especially when domestic and work-spaces are most violent or suffocating.


Leslie Kaplan

From the beginning of her career, French poet, playwright, and novelist Leslie Kaplan has been an important writer of the French left. She has published over twenty books in all three genres, many of which have been translated into German, Swedish, Spanish, Danish, Norwegian, and now, English. Her first book, L'exces l’usine (1982), gained the attention of writers such as Marguerite Duras and Maurice Blanchot, and became an important book for the ‘68 generation. In 2018, Commune Editions published Excess—The Factory, translated by Julie Carr and Jennifer Pap. This was the book’s first translation into English, though it had been translated into five other languages.




In these startlingly original poems, the sky is limp, bright, it rolls, enters. The big blond sky is everywhere, it carries everything away, fleeing. It is by turns material, luminous, mobile, without end, and colorless. It is the inconsistent constant, the scale by which the lives below and in it do their factory work, feud, love, unfold. And it is the sky by which the speaker watches, knows, or doesn’t know. In this flattened and stunning sense of scale, the reader is allowed to perceive details in their most elemental importance, tracking the precision and imprecision of life — what it means to be living — against the sharp outlines of the world.

- Eleni Sikelianos


Following their translation of Leslie Kaplan’s book L’excès-L’usine (Excess—The Factory), a work praised by Marguerite Duras and now a contemporary classic, Pap and Carr’s second, The Book of Skies, similarly presents a direct and unmitigated consideration of working-class life from a distinctly female perspective. Subtly political, vividly visual, it is nonetheless exactingly spare, and the language aggressively unadorned. Carr and Pap capture its spirit perfectly in a translation propelled by amazingly subtle sound work, as unadorned as the language, and deeply magnetic. Having this important work by such a major writer now available in English is a true gift to our poetry and our culture.


-Cole Swensen

The Book of Skies | Leslie Kaplan | Translated : Jennifer Pap and Julie Carr

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