Searing in its energies and mysterious in its icy depths, Love is Colder than the Lake is a tour-de-force of the experimental French poet Liliane Giraudon’s power and range.
Love is Colder than the Lake weaves together stories dreamed and experienced, fragments of autobiographical trauma, and scraps of political and sexual violence to create an alchemical and incantatory texture that is all Giraudon’s own. In its feminist attention and allusive stylistic registers, Love is Colder than The Lake claims a unique position among contemporary French literature. The heroes (or anti-heroes) in this collection include Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Lorine Niedecker, Emma Goldman, Chantal Akerman, the Marquis de Sade, and the unnamed lake itself. Giraudon’s writing, editing, and visual work have been influential in France for decades, and English-speaking readers will thrill to this challenging, important voice.
Liliane Giraudon was born in Marseille in 1946. She continues to live and work in Marseille, and her writing is inseparable from the place, shaped by the vibrant community of poets and writers and artists Giraudon has herself shaped, as well as by the city’s gritty and diverse cosmopolitanism. Giraudon’s many books have, since 1982, been primarily published by France’s P.O.L. editions. Giraudon has also been instrumental as an editor for influential reviews such as Banana Split, Action Poétique, and If. She performs and collaborates widely, including with Nanni Balastrini, Henri Delui, Jean-Jacques Viton, and many others. Two of her books (Fur and Pallaksh, Pallaksh) were published in English by Sun & Moon Press in 1992 and 1994, respectively. She lives in Marseille, France.
Lindsay Turner is the author of the poetry collections Songs & Ballads (Prelude Books, 2018) and The Upstate (University of Chicago Press, 2023). She has twice received French Voices awards for her translations from the French, which include books of poetry and philosophy by Stéphane Bouquet, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Anne Duforumantelle, Ryoko Sekiguchi, and others. She is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Sarah Riggs is a poet and multivalent artist. Her most recent book The Nerve Epistle appeared in 2021. Translation is one of her arts, for which she received a Griffin prize with Etel Adnan, and Best Translated Book Award, also for Adnan’s Time (Nightboat, 2019). Riggs lives in Brooklyn, after many years in Paris.
Author residence: Marseille, France
"Over the course of her long and varied career, Liliane Giraudon has proven to be one of the most singular voices of the twentieth century, taking on the still-unanswered questions that have marked our time. Her work relentlessly deconstructs dominant representations, addresses itself to issues of gender and class, and investigates the political and philosophical implications of these issues, which also provide the particular form for her texts. That form is at the heart of an inclusive, multiple aesthetic, incorporating a wide range of materials and artistic practices: collage, drawing, documentary, citation, notetaking, photography, and performance." ―Amandine André
"For more than four decades, the French poet Liliane Giraudon has written experimental, sensual, and politically demanding work. . . [Love is Colder Than the Lake] offers an opportunity to delve into the long and rich career of this exceptional poet."—Léon Pradeau, Poetry Foundation
"This collection of rueful, frank, breezily wanton love poems by a notable contemporary French poet has almost none of the hiccups and irregularities one expects from a translated work. (The original French isn’t provided, so it’s unclear what liberties Turner is taking, but whatever they are, she should keep taking them.)" ―David Orr, The New York Times
"[Giraudon’s] voice is hypnotic, inscrutable, unique. A trip through one of her narratives is like a somnambular stroll through a rain-soaked ravine with an unreadable road map; a ramble in fugue-state through a wilderness where signposts are written in the language of emotion and the logic of the heart." —Gilbert Albert-Gilbert
“For half a century, Giraudon’s incisive brilliance has driven French poetry forward. Here, she investigates the work of art in an age of global deperdition. Banalities stumble into horror. Text, collage, and film bottom out into their constitutive unknowns. And ghosts including Fassbinder, Niedecker, and Maier compel us to look the Real in the eye. Riggs and Turner match Giraudon’s pace and polyphony and affirm that poetry is the mode of perception we need now.” —Teresa Villa-Ignacio
“Vivid and flickering, this book by the leading light of contemporary experimental feminist poetics, Liliane Giraudon, is a live stream of striking images, both cinematic and hypnotizing. As it progresses, the recurrent image of the lake accumulates greater and greater charge as its possibilities, metaphoric, symbolic, and literal, proliferate. Giraudon grapples here with the tremendous weight of history in its many theaters, again both literal and figurative. The cast of characters is epic, the logic, poetic, and the whole, riveting. Riggs’ and Turner’s translation is as inventive as the work itself, perfectly capturing all its urgency, wry wit, and sharp perceptions—a remarkable feat.” —Cole Swensen
“A propulsive pastiche of ‘accumulated ghosts’ that shows that when ‘the grotesque has overcome all the rest,’ we can dig our way out through language, image, each other. An exploration of the past selves we are constructed on, and a cinematic, surprising staging of grief and lost love rendered electrically and filled with pleasing pops of ‘shrimp-pink’ and ‘crushing fierce yellows’ by translator-poet duo Sarah Riggs and Lindsay Turner who deftly braid together words of the English language to make a new one for Liliane Giraudon.” —Emma Ramadan
"Giraudon’s singular voice makes Love is Colder Than the Lake a compelling and memorable read. . . The reader submerges herself in Giraudon’s language and is rewarded with the bliss of drowning." —Derek Graf, West Trade Review
"In Love is Colder than the Lake, Liliane Giraudon sets out on an experimental expedition wielding her anarcho-queer pen, capturing instant Polaroids of life’s intricacies and violence. Her writing engages with these snapshots, gradually peeling away layers of silver halide to distill her final image — the metaphorical lake, a repository of her intellect." —Lucia Tian, Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism