Professor Kirsten Strom has created and illustrated a book of translated children’s poems by Robert Desnos and presented the book at the conference of the International Society for the Study of Surrealism. The book, titled Appleblossom and Nightingale: Poems for Children by Robert Desnos is in process of finding a place of publication, with the ultimate goal of being released as a children’s book.
While browsing the library for sources for her book The Animal Surreal, published in 2017, Kirsten Strom happened upon the poetry of Desnos. With research, she found that he was a French surrealist poet living in Paris in the 1940’s, which at the time was occupied by the Nazis. Part of the resistance movement, he was arrested by the Nazi party and deported to various locations including Auschwitz, eventually dying in a camp called Theresienstadt. She fell in love not only with his writing, but saddened by the circumstances of his story and felt compelled to make his voice heard. With the use of her background in French, she compiled and translated the poems.
Strom’s specialty in surrealism aided in the understanding of the poetry, which focuses on the concept of play and imagination. The collection focuses on small stories of animals and flowers, which she says was very fun to illustrate, and those drawings helped move along the storytelling aspects. The surrealism conference was held at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania and headed by famous surrealist scholar Mary Anne Caws. Strom presented the book and spoke about its significance in the surrealism movement.
Come January 2 – January 30, there will be a show at the exhibition space in the Mary Idema Pew Library, Chantefleurs et Chantefables, centered on the book. There will also be a talk given by Strom about the translation process. We look forward to seeing it!