Ned Balbo NEA Fellowship

Creative Writing Professor Ned Balbo

NEA Literature Translation Fellowship Description: To support the retranslation from the French of the 512-line poem “The Young Fate” by French poet Paul Valéry. T.S. Eliot was convinced that, more than Rilke or Yeats, Valéry (1871 -1945) would remain “for posterity the representative poet … of the first half of the 20th century.” His influence on other poets is well-documented, among them John Ashbery, Wallace Stevens, and J.D. McClatchy. Yet, “The Young Fate,” widely considered one of the more important poems in the last 100 years, is little known in the U.S., in part because the best existing English translation is difficult to obtain, and the best American versions are outdated. Originally published in 1917, it presents a young woman standing outside on a starry night, overlooking the ocean, contemplating her connection to time, death, and the natural world. This retranslation will come in time to celebrate the poem’s centennial, and will include an introduction, notes, and a brief biography of Valéry.

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