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Paol Keineg
Boudica

translated from the French by Keith Waldrop
1994
poem sequence, 64 pages, offset, smyth-sewn
ISSN 0269-0179 "Serie d'Ecriture"
ISBN 0-930901-94-0, original paperback $14

Tacitus tells, in his Annals, how the Romans were defeated by "a simple woman." On a chariot with her two daughters, who had been raped by Roman legionnaires, Queen Boudica made the round of the Breton tribes, inciting them to follow her into battle and, in the first round, defeated the Roman invader.

Paol Keineg's sequence of 40 poems, with their hammered rhythm, their echoes of blows given and taken, raises a monument to Queen Boudica's courage and, by bold anachronisms, to the Bretons that have resisted forced assimilation through the centuries --down to our own time.

Paol Keineg was born in 1944 in Quimerc'h (Finistere). He has published poetry in both Breton and French and now teaches at Duke University.

"This is a febrile work that swings between celebration and disgust, both visionary and funereal.... In Boudica, Keineg has created a work that moves from the specific to the universal, a work that would reclaim lost ground, both plitically and poetically. This author has found his way through the post-structuralist mirror."

--W.B.Keckler, American Book Review


"To Keineg, the colonizer's history is written even on the landscape.... Austere and beautiful as the poem itself, the revenant Boudica probes Brittany's disempowerment.... Daring."

--Catherine A.Salmons, Partisan Review


"The poems celebrate Queen Boudica's courage and ability to inspire the Breton tribes to confederate in the interests of freedom and justice. Keith Waldrop's translation heightens the incongruities between high-minded idealism and the gritty, sordid affair of war."

--Susan Smith Nash, TapRoot Reviews